The magic of Encouragement

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🌹’We never appreciate the depth a word of encouragement means…until we receive one ourself.’ 🌹

Funny how things work…I have contemplated encouragement and what it means for a long time now.
What makes it so special? And if you’ll allow me, I’d love to offer two different forms of encouragement….

When I was an Educational support Aide in a secondary school, I worked with a vision impaired and intellectually disabled student. He was the most gregarious young man who struggled in many areas of school curriculum, vision impairment aside.
The important thing was always focus on the positives and encourage any gifts that we could see in the students. We knew everyone has a gift no matter how extreme their disability may be.
So we would tell ‘Jim’ that he was so friendly, knowledgeable about horses, kind to all the staff and… had an amazing memory.

We didn’t necessarily comment on that as a way to encourage him, but more as a running joke because he didn’t forget anything we ever told him about ourselves, good or bad, including our birthdays. So it came to be that we would began to refer to his awesome memory and share some laughs together.
In a way, we were passively encouraging him without this being our mindful intention…we were fostering his confidence.

You see, when he was asked if he would like to give the introduction speech on a parent information evening, he decided to act upon this newly realised gift of memory and put it to use. He set about memorising his entire speech.
And can you guess?
He presented it word for word perfectly and was praised highly afterwards for his brilliant speech and his ability to remember it without cue cards.
We could feel the pride welling up within Jim…he was being showered with accolades for being excellent at something. After that, he would make comment about never forgetting anything…it became a fun banter between himself and us, the staff.

I refer to this as ‘passive’ as opposed to ‘active’ encouragement. These are my thoughts and terms only, but Jim’s story started me thinking…

We all understand when we are actively encouraged, as in ‘go for it… you’ll be great’ or ‘don’t let the fear stop you… go and live your dreams…’

But I believe there is a second type of encouragement that’s more passive, often so much more subtle…

…the kind where you have to read between the lines…
…the kind that is disguised as a compliment…

If we are fortunate, they may arrive on those doubting days, in a small but meaningful way, that fills our heart with hope and confidence and dispels those pesky doubts.
People most likely don’t realise they are being encouraging. I’m sure they accept they are offering kind words, but frequently these words can rearrange themselves in the receiver’s mind as words of encouragement.
It can be as simple as;
‘I really resonate with…’
‘This painting is stunning…’
‘You have a way with words…’
‘You’re such a good cook…’
or having your photograph or other creations featured in a public forum.

Often we’re oblivious to our gifts until someone sees the goodness in who we are or what we’ve done. We can become too focused on the things we need to ‘improve on’ or any negativity that comes our way and we may find it hard to pursue the ‘active’ encouragement from other people.

I believe the passive form is such meaningful encouragement because it presents as a heartfelt word, an appreciation of something that others choose to comment about, without any expectation from either person.

I received an encouraging word a few days ago just when I was questioning myself…it was the passive kind, that serendipitously provided beautiful magic…enough to prompt my continuing with something I’d been working on.

Passive encouragement offers us food for thought, that perhaps we truly are where we’re meant to be…
‘Do they really see that in me…?’
‘Did my work really resonate positively…?’

So passive or active, let’s all keep the world spinning with our goodness and keep up the wonderfully encouraging words, dressed however we deliver them, accepting that maybe, just maybe…they have the power to change someone’s day more than we could ever realise.

May I offer this little affirmation for this post…
‘I AM…encouragement for others, by the words I choose.’

So I ask you to please enjoy the feeling, knowing that you truly are…and I personally thank you for the magic of encouragement.