How often do people tell you that you are doing a good job? At anything? If you regularly have people supporting you and encouraging you to keep going with something, whether it’s parenting, cooking, painting, your rock band, your doily knitting or just being a nice person, count yourself as fortunate. A lot of people have the ability to do really great things, but the only thing stopping them is a lack of encouragement. If there is something you want to try, something you have a passion for but have been afraid to really do, are you more likely to jump in if you are doing it all on your own? Would you be more likely to believe in yourself and take the leap if you had a friend saying “You’ve got this”?
In the age of social media it’s super easy to think we are giving encouragement. Every “like” validates some little (or big) thing someone has done. If you “liked” a lot of things today, it feels like you’ve been so generous! The problem is that we don’t get or give as much actual in-person encouragement as we did "back in the good old days". It’s so easy to scroll through your feed on whatever platform and “like” something (or hundreds of somethings) without really giving anything more than a cursory glance. It’s much harder to carefully digest something, physically show up, look someone in the eye, acknowledge them and REALLY say “You are doing a good job. I appreciate you! Keep going!” Guess which one has more impact?
We tend to save the bulk of our “generosity” for our online profiles and we use our time in the real world lashing out with frustration at the slow person behind the checkout counter or the aggressive drivers or we play violent video games to pass the time. Then of course there are the life trolls who purposely tear others down to make themselves feel like bigger people (either online or in the real world). It’s a hard pill to swallow, but these people need encouragement too. They need people encouraging them to do positive things even more than the average bear. If you are sincerely encouraged to do positive things and being told that you have something worthwhile to offer the world, you probably wouldn't need to lash out at others at all.
People have a tendency to troll themselves too (waving my own hand in the air!!!) Even after a really positive experience my personal tendency is to second guess everything about it. I replay it in my mind and dissect the entire thing. Maybe that person didn't really mean what they said? Maybe I misread what they meant? Did they have an ulterior motive? Maybe that didn't go as well as I thought it did. Let's face it... if I was completely on my own and without support, I would probably be locked in a closet somewhere with my own dark thoughts.
For many people, the only difference between them stopping or continuing with something positive is someone telling them that they should be doing it. More food for thought: Many times the biggest thing holding people back from GIVING encouragement is THEIR own fear, resentment or insecurity. They might be afraid of how the encouragement will be received, or they might be jealous in some way of what the other person is capable of. There is definitely safety and community in NOT doing things together. We build excuses for one another to avoid going too far out of our comfort zones. Many times people also assume that others get enough praise from everyone else in their lives and they couldn't possibly need any more. Why bother to reach out?
So what about you? Do you lift up, tear down or remain silent? When there is silence from the world, people have a tendency to fill it up with their own negative voices and assumptions. As a society we also tend to get so busy with the business of being busy that we wait until people die before we express how much we appreciate them. Then we ironically flood social media with how much that person meant and how special they were in our lives. But did you ever actually take the time to tell them while they were here? I have a feeling that appreciation means a lot more to someone while they are still alive to hear about it (and yes, I am being sarcastic).
What if you could find just one person each day that you admire or appreciate and let them know? Reach out! Tell people when you like them. Tell people when you like their work, or their personalities, or their parenting styles or their pot roast. How many of us would keep going and keep creating if we just had people telling us not to stop?
There's a lot of good in this world, so let's keep each other going. Choose to exercise your goodness and spread it around. Few people are strong enough to keep going with anything without support. If you do reach out and get silence back, know that you have put something positive into the world and don't let that stop you from reaching out again. Sometimes compliments are harder for people to accept than most people realize. It might take a little time for them to sink in.
So support someone. TODAY. Their work, their life, their souls will thank you.
© 2016 Krysta Bernhardt. All Rights Reserved.