We did not become who we are without the inspiration and support of others. That’s quite a claim, isn’t it? Think about the people who showed confidence in our abilities and inspired us with hope. There are those who stimulated our imaginations and encouraged us to become the best people we can be. The amount of mutual encouragement is one way we determine whether or not our friendships are authentic.
We like to imagine ourselves enjoying public acclaim over our hard won achievements and successes. First, we must actually do the work of getting to that place. Even though the fantasy of public acclaim is motivating, it’s not truly encouraging.
Genuine encouragement comes from a deeper place. Sometimes encouragement comes in the form of praise or a pat on the back. It feels good to receive validation for what we have done. The votes of confidence boost our strength to continue in our efforts.
Somehow you have harnessed your strength to follow through to a successful outcome in an endeavor. You were able to overcome many distractions and pessimism so you could focus on the task and complete it well. You may have gotten encouragement from a boss, a coworker, a friend, or from the wellspring within yourself. That encouragement was the extra push you needed in order to carry on.
You knew the person sharing the encouragement was genuine when she or he showed authentic joy about your eventual success. You then felt even better because you knew you didn’t waste the hope that person had given to you in the first place. The faith they had for you was not ill placed.
At some time in life we discovered that it’s good to give encouragement to others. When you encouraged someone else to go ahead and do what she or he really wanted to do, you felt very good, too. The best part was feeling sincerely pleased when that person actually accomplished the goal. It felt like a part of you was also the winner.
Do you remember encouraging or mentoring a child or adolescent? Perhaps the kid had little or no faith in her or himself, but you saw that young person’s true potential. Genuine positive, inspiring words and support were all that were necessary to nudge that young person to persevere.
With encouragement there is also a balancing act to perform. Too much encouragement can lead to overconfidence, arrogance, self-importance, and the pitfalls of egoism. This danger comes about from too much self encouragement. If we end up with inflated egos and big heads, others will want to take us down and feed us discouragement.
When sharing encouragement with others or giving it to yourself, the thing to remember is to keep it real and temper it with humility. Use your conscience when giving or witholding encouragement.