en·cour·age/enˈkərij/- Give support, confidence, or hope to (someone)
Encouragement. Ladies, we all love to receive it, but how many of us are good at giving it?
Often we talk about encouragement like it’s a special gift that only some people have and the rest of us are off the hook. And I’ll admit I’ve had similar thoughts for a while because my natural tendency is to focus on what’s wrong with something before I see what’s good– much less comment on it. And while I do agree that some people are naturally encouraging, genuine gratefulness for someone’s achievement, talent, cooking prowess, craftiness–what have you–is something we all should express regularly.
But why you ask? A few reasons.
First, I think it keeps us from comparing ourselves to others. I can’t speak for men, but it seems like women do this all the time. I do. But when I do it’s the kiss of death for my creativity. Whenever I start to go down the road of comparing myself to another person it suffocates me and slows down my desire to work on whatever project I have going. I start thinking stupid things like ‘I’ll never be able to write as well as __’ or ‘I wish I had had the same opportunities as __ so I could do __’. Kiss. Of. Death.
Secondly, encouraging other women allows me to be a part of someone’s story and might even be instrumental in helping a friend reach a goal they weren’t sure they ever would. Every woman has dreams that they want to see come true. Some are realistic, while some may not be. But that’s okay. I’m not saying that you should tell someone with the voice of someone like, well, me, that she sounds like Charlotte Church. Encouragement should not be insincere, but should be a genuine expression of gratefulness not only for outward abilities, but perhaps only for the sheer determination to be intentional about working hard at something.
And finally–I promise– we should encourage one another because quite frankly people like to be around encouraging people. More so than us tell-it-like-it-is kind of people. Sorry. Trust me, I know of what I speak. There is a place for criticism in the world–thank goodness– just not all the time. For us glass-half-empty sort of folks we have to remember to pepper in some cheer-leading along with our ‘helpful suggestions.’
I truly want to be excited and not jealous about the success and giftedness of others. And I’m sad to say that I have been–too many times to count. Part of that is simply me learning to be content where I am (not necessarily physically, but sometimes this does apply) and see my life and experiences as unique and just as valuable as everyone else’s.
Perhaps I’ve been thinking about these things so much more as I begin to write more and ask for feedback. I didn’t realize how much a kind word or two really inspired me to go on even when I felt defeated. I assume I’m not the only one who feels this way from time-to-time. And I thought how wonderful would it be if every day I/we intentionally tried to encourage someone with words that affirmed and didn’t criticize. Tried to build up and not tear down.
Ladies, I think that would be very encouraging indeed.