In the course of several conversations recently, I have discovered that many people don’t feel encouragement from the people in their lives. And furthermore, they feel embarrassed to ask for it because they feel bad about needing it. It’s as if needing encouragement means you’re weak or needy or that you can’t take care of this for yourself. We carry a lot of baggage around with use when it comes to asking to get our needs met, including what people have told us about ourselves that may have been more about their own inability to provide it for us. I think it’s time to separate out myth from reality.
We all need encouragement at times. It’s true! Some of us need a little and some of us need a lot. There isn’t a right way to do this. Encouragement is anything from a smile or a nod to a long e-mail expounding on our best qualities and accomplishments. I find I need more of it when I’m stressed or tired or simply have a bad day or when I don’t remember how wonderful I really am. I need to be reminded of my goals and how close I am to achieving them when I forget. I need others to appreciate all the things I do for them and for me that usually go unnoticed. I need to know others think I’m doing a good job of just about anything. When things are going well, however, it’s just icing on the cake. I appreciate it, but it’s not so necessary.
Encouragement is the little boost that pushes us forward through the tough times, and it so underutilized in our everyday lives, by our family members and co-workers and everyone else in our lives. And yet we have a lot of trouble asking for this kind of support. Sure, there are apps that will send you a nice message each day, but it’s so much better to get real, genuine encouragement about something that is important to you. How do you elicit your friends and co-workers to give it up and send it your way? You create a culture around building others up and by telling them that is what you want from them.
When was the last time you knew a friend was struggling with an important decision or was sure they weren’t going to make a goal they set for themselves? Did you call them to offer encouragement? Did you buy them a cup of coffee and take the time to listen why it was so important that they reach that goal? Did you talk about your own struggles and ask for support?
A large part of what I do as a coach is to hold people accountable to themselves and the things they’ve identified as accomplishments they want to achieve. Encouragement goes hand-in-hand with accountability. If I don’t recognize the small steps along the way and celebrate what is working, I’m only doing half the job of accountability. I urge you to find an encouragement partner who can build you up when you need a boost, and can see the amazing qualities you possess each and every day and is willing to promote those in you.