Where Has All The Encouragement Gone?

Where Has All The Encouragement Gone?

Maybe it’s just easier to beat people down instead of building them up?

A friend of mine was having a conversation with her young neighbor. The young neighbor had grown frustrated with his inability to finish a project he had started. Inability, as in he didn’t think he could figure out how to do it. My friend mentioned to the neighbor that since he had already figured out how to get the project to this point she was certain that he’d be able to figure out what to do next. “You’ve gotten it this far, I’m sure you’ll be able to get it done. You’ve got this.”

Encouragement. It’s not something the young neighbor was too familiar with. “I can’t remember that last time anyone has told me they believed in me.”

Kind of sad.

I was raised by two loving parents. One was an optimistic encourager, the other a pessimistic pointer outer of what I did wrong. A bad grade on a school exam produced two distinctively different parental responses. While both were disappointed, one responded with a compassionate encouraging vibe of “I know you’ll do better next time” while the other grounded me and made sure I didn’t watch TV for a week. One left me feeling empowered, the other simply watered the seeds of doubt I’ve now been uprooting for years.

I prefer the encouragement, please.

I think we all do.

But where has all the encouragement gone?

For those who weren’t ever encouraged it’s often difficult to be encouraging. It goes against what they’ve known, of what they’ve experienced. Often our ability to be encouragers is passed down, almost genetically, like the color of our eyes.

Further putting the hurt on encouragement is society’s growing bias towards negativity. Reality shows, “news” outlets, political grandstanding, and to a great extent social media are all fertile breeding grounds of hate and tearing others down. Apparently it’s quite good for their business.

Kind of sad.

We often think of encouragement as something we do for our kids. Like it’s something that is eventually outgrown. But at what point in life do we ever truly outgrow the benefits of being encouraged? Or the need? We all carry within us our own personal heaviness, mostly unseen by others. Unseen, because it’s visibility we fear would make us appear weak. Especially us men. Our world is unkind to those perceived as weak, so we embrace the facade of strength. And the people we see as strong never need any encouragement, we tell ourselves, so none is ever offered.

Pick one day. One day to simply notice how much encouragement you witness. Listen. Observe. How much are we picking each other up? My experience of purposefully noticing the tone and content of conversations usually results in witnessing very little encouragement. But there are so many opportunities to do so.

We just need to decide to share some.

Even at my advanced age I still appreciate and benefit of words of encouragement. I’ve figured out a great deal about life, but that knowledge alone doesn’t always make life easy. Sometimes being the recipient of a few positive words can change my energy and move me forward.

Each day will present us with opportunities to offer words of encouragement to those we interact with. Friends, family, and strangers alike.

It’s also extremely impactful and important when we are interacting with our self.

In a world somewhat obsessed with the negative, we can offer a different voice, a voice of encouragement which will always create a more positive impact.

Closing the encouragement deficit starts with us.

Each of us.

Me. And you.

I know you can do it!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Pondering The Power of Encouragement

Pondering The Power of Encouragement

I wasn’t sure he was going to make it. He was an elderly man attempting to complete today’s 5k race. His face and body were drained by the course, further impacted by the high heat and oppressive humidity. Many who had gathered on the side of the course began to shout words of encouragement as he fought his way to the finish line. He managed to share a little smile as he made the final turn on his way finishing the race.

There is a real sense of community surrounding organized road racing. Hundreds of people, from kids to grandparents, with hours of training mostly in solitude come together and turn 3.1 miles into more of a celebration of the common bond they all share. One defining Continue reading “Pondering The Power of Encouragement”

What’s Getting Stuck On You These Days?

What’s Getting Stuck On You These Days?

Some days I wear my dog to work.

With the bone-chilling cold of a New England winter upon us, I often rely on my fleece jacket to keep me warm. Fleece is great, but due to static electricity it’s also quite magnetic. Especially when it comes to dog fur. Just walking close to my dog and his hair seems to jump right on me.

We all have something in common with fleece. Things stick to us, too. How and where we spend our time greatly influences what actually gets stuck. Spend too much time in any negative environment and you will see that negativity start sticking to you. Fortunately, it Continue reading “What’s Getting Stuck On You These Days?”

Expecting Green To Be Blue

Expecting Green To Be Blue

Funny how most of the important parts of our lives don’t come with any instructions. But buy a $10 toaster and inside the box you’ll find an owner’s manual with detailed instructions on how to turn soft room temperature bread into warm crusty bread. Usually this information is translated into several different languages, ensuring that a language barrier will never prevent any one from enjoying the simple pleasures of toast.

As much as I enjoy toast and the science and technology behind it, I’d like to think that a troubleshooting guide to life’s deeper questions would be far more valuable than figuring out how to get my bread to toast a little lighter.

Life, and all the questions that come along with it, is just one of those things you have to figure out on your own.

Perhaps life is just far too complicated to have all its mysteries resolved by following a few simple steps. And since no two of us are Continue reading “Expecting Green To Be Blue”