Encouragement: A Vital Ingredient for Relationships

“Mom, I just can’t do it.” My daughter Anna Beth was struggling to finish her Algebra homework. Math wanted to be her nemesis but David and I were determined to get her the help she needed to feel successful. So, we hired a tutor. It was not cheap, but the results were worth any monetary expense on our part. Although David and I are not proficient in Math, we are adept at speaking words of encouragement. “Anna Beth, we believe in you! You can do it” She passed that class and felt good about herself.

Anna Beth embodies qualities of perseverance, integrity and determination. One reason she developed these character traits is because David and I grasp the power of praising her when we see these attributes demonstrated. This helps our daughter to see herself the way we see her. She is an accomplished young woman who struggles with Math.  As parents, we desire our words and actions to encourage Anna Beth to develop the inner fortitude to finish what she begins whether or not there are issues along the way.

One of my favorite mottos is “Catch someone doing something right and praise them for it.” The reason I love this saying is because it reminds me to be an encourager. When David makes dinner for me after a long day of counseling I choose to not take it for granted, but say “thank you for your thoughtfulness.” It is his small expression of love, and he does not expect my gratitude. But in acknowledging his gesture, he is encouraged to do it again. I appreciate his support.

How is your support system? The power of encouragement from others is vital to our feeling loved and embraced. There is something about hearing someone say “I believe in you” that motivates us to dig deeper, love well, and become a better person.

I want to be a positive influence to those around me. Who can I encourage today? What person will cross my path that needs to see my smile or hear words of “I’m so happy to see you!”?  When I talk about this idea with clients, we discuss how this journey is free. It does not cost anything but a moment of our time. And many have reported back to me that they have observed relationships strengthened as they took time to notice the things going right.

My clients and I also discuss the fact that the biggest encourager in our lives must be ourselves. I ask my clients “How have you loved on yourself this week?” The concept of self-love is foreign to many people, but it is imperative in our quest to love others. The Bible instructs us to love others as we love ourselves. We have got to get this loving self-thing right!

One technique in working on loving ourselves is what I refer to as “mirror therapy”. It can be a catalyst in helping improve self-talk. Here are the steps for mirror therapy:

  1. Look in the mirror
  2. Make eye contact with yourself
  3. Give yourself a pep talk such as:

I believe in you  –  I am proud of you  –  You are going to make it!

Today is a great day to become intentional about catching people in your life doing something right and praising them for it. It’s also a great time to do that for yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised at the lift in your step and the joy in your heart from noticing the positive actions in others.

 

Sandra

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