One of the most powerful forces in our lives is encouragement. Encouragement is so important because it is life-altering. Not only for the person who gets it…but also for the one who gives it.
There are three key ways to embrace encouragement in your own life:
-Giving encouragement to others.
-Accepting encouragement from others.
-Believing in yourself.
1. Giving encouragement to others.
Some of the most important advice I give to people is to not pass up the opportunity to encourage others. Your simple words of encouragement can have a profound effect on someone’s life.
When you encourage people, you are giving them a reason to pursue their goal or dream. You’re saying you “get it”. It’s not some pipe dream they’ve had spinning around in their heads. It’s real. Then, when the opportunity to shine comes their way, they’ve got the confidence to move forward and go for it.
Just by showing your support to someone, you can be the one to open the door to a person’s dream. If you see someone with a great talent, point it out and lift it up. If you’ve learned something, share it. Some people fear that if they give their expertise to people who may be on a similar path, they will lose their own opportunities to them. Yet so often, you will find that the good you give will come back to you. But, don’t let that be your motivation for encouraging someone. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.
2. Accepting encouragement from others.
Ever hear of people that “can’t take a compliment?” Somehow they are uncomfortable with being told that they excel in something, that they are people with something special to offer the world. There are many different reasons for this. They may feel they are unworthy, or that to acknowledge this kind of encouragement would be showing egotism.
Yet, it’s important to be able to accept encouragement from others. It leads you on the road to believing in yourself to accomplish those goals. There’s something else you may not have realized when you accept encouragement: it’s not just about you. When you accept encouragement from others, you are showing them affirmation as well.
As an example, I’ve known some musicians who have a tendency to deflect compliments on a performance, just because one or two things didn’t work perfectly, or they are harsh on themselves. Fans didn’t notice those little things the artists felt they did or didn’t do…or it wasn’t so important to them. They were affected by the songs or the artists and wanted to say so. Instead of accepting sincere praise, some artists would respond by criticizing or otherwise downplaying their talents.
There are a couple of problems with this. When you react this way, you are in a sense telling people that their thoughts don’t have an effect on you. That can be frustrating and disappointing to the person trying to encourage you. After a while, people may decide that there is no point to it anymore because their message is not getting through. Eventually, they might stop trying altogether…and you lose out on the great treasure of encouragement.
Modesty is an admirable trait, but be sure you are not taking it to the extreme. Accept the encouragement that people give to you as the gift it is. Doing this will bless you and the giver…a true win-win situation.
3. Believing in yourself
Now you might ask, isn’t believing in yourself the same thing as accepting encouragement?
One has to come before the other. If you aren’t going to accept encouragement, it’s mighty hard to believe in yourself, isn’t it? The encouragement given to you is external. Once you have truly accepted and absorbed it, and owned it as true, then you are on your way to believing in yourself. Sometimes that’s hard to do when you’re facing rejection, encountering roadblocks, and things aren’t coming together as you’ve hoped…just yet.
You know deep down inside why you’re doing what you’re doing. You have a God given talent, a calling, or a message. Trust it. Things don’t always happen on our timetable…or exactly in the way you planned. Lots of times, it’s that thing that comes out of left field. Somebody saw your website link in some odd place, or someone found out about you from someplace or someone else…maybe an avenue you weren’t ever aware of.
There’s an emerging and powerful way to embrace and accept encouragement and believe in yourself: partnering with someone who can hold up a mirror to your thoughts, plans and goals. In the process of this dynamic, possibilities can be revealed to you that you hadn’t realized, or thought of because it might have been stuck down in your surface someplace, or it hasn’t been seen with fresh eyes before. For you it might be where you’re going with your work, how to communicate how unique you are, how do I get this opportunity, etc. When you are affirmed, it’s empowering. And then, it becomes contagious. It feels so good to receive it, that before long you want others to feel the way you do, and so you start giving it to others.
I hope that in these concepts you’ve found something that you can relate to in your own life, as a giver or receiver of encouragement.
© 2005 Wendy Vickers