Last week I had several discussions about the culture of rooting for and encouragement and wanted to share some of the thoughts in here, too.
In my daily work I get to observe how much rooting for and encouragement affects us all, no matter the age, occupation or (social) status. And, on the flip side, I also get to observe how much discouragement affects both our being and our doings.
As the encouragement usually comes from outside, from other people, the discouragement most often comes from within. From our inner critique.
From time to time, it’s good to flip those roles around. Let us root for ourselves and be our own best cheer leaders, while leaving the role of discouragement to others.
When we champion ourselves, it’s much easier to face those occasionally discouraging, yet often well-meaning, people in our lives. But if we continuously dispirit ourselves and only rely on the outside encouragement, life can turn into a never ending survival battle.
While we are learning to adapt the culture of rooting for each other, especially in my home country, let’s start that work, too, with ourselves and then let it spread far and wide within the society.
We need encouragement, everyday, in order to thrive and to keep on going when things get challenging. Let’s not leave it to the mere chance – let’s make sure we encourage ourselves and others daily either by words or by actions.
My colleague and friend wrote a powerful post in the social media about not discouraging anyone. As she’s been a professional athlete for years, moving on to a new career full-time only last fall, she’s a passionate advocate for the culture where we authentically encourage each other.
She’s setting us all a living example of what rooting for and encouraging is as she always shines her powerful light and presence on the talents, gifts and brilliance of others.
We all ought to be accustomed to such an encouraging culture!
And a good way to start is by doing an exercise she suggested in her post: write down a list of your gifts, talents and brilliance.
Really take time to hone it and don’t leave anything behind, no matter how small it may feel. They all count, especially the ones that you take for granted.
Then read the list. Many times. And return to it again and again. Especially when you need encouragement.
You are a person with many talents. And none of them alone defines you.
For example, last week, at work, my client told me about how he never got encouraged in pursuing certain parts of his dreams during the early years of his career just because no one really expected that much of him. Or, in other words, no one expected him to succeed at what he was doing.
This has, on his own words, affected his mentality in a way that he want’s to show not only to the world, but for himself, too, that he can actually succeed. And has done that in more than one area of his life.
I hear similar stories all the time.
I’ve even experienced it myself. As I was about five or six years old, my grandmother asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and I immediately answered: a rich woman.
Everyone laughed. I remember lifting my head as I was playing with toys and looking at the people around me, perplexed. Mostly because I didn’t understand why they laughed, but also because one could sense all the different tones of laughter.
One laugh was saying that ‘just you wait, girl, the world will teach you’. The other questioned: ‘how dare you say such a thing out loud.’ One was concerned about ‘what other people will think’. Then there was this ‘who do you think you are’ laugh accompanied by the ‘that’s never gonna happen’ laugh. Most loudly laughed my grandmother as if she had never heard a better joke.
My answer indeed became the joke in our family for years to follow, and every time someone would bring it up, they remembered to add that it was only going to be possible if I married a rich man.
Luckily the common consciousness has changed since and women, too, are more than able to make their own fortune, regardless of their marital, or any other, status.
What’s common with most of the stories, is that something has happened in the past – we have faced discouragement in some way – but it is not necessarily happening around us anymore. Except in our own head.
We’ve become accustomed to repeat the stories from the past and thus discouraging and holding ourselves back. Even though none of that would actually hold true in the current reality.
Our middle one just received news from her loved hobby that she’s not expected to pass some level tests in the future, so they’re not putting her through any tests at all cause it’s not needed for her to continue, but not necessarily at the level she’d like.
As we talked about it with her, I raised the question of what she’d really like and whether she’s committed to what she’d really like. She says she is, but is afraid to give her all in case it’s not enough.
Looking from the outside, I can see, that the only thing holding her back at the moment is her own story of ‘what if my best isn’t good enough, what if I’m not good enough’.
And in these moments, when we haven’t yet learned how to root for and encourage ourselves, the outside encouragement is invaluable.
That’s where we, you and me, step in. It’s not only possible for us to root for others, it’s our duty to do so every time we feel even the slightest urge.
We never know what it means for the other, but we do know what it means when we get rooted for and encouraged. Let’s generously pass that experience on to those around us, too.
It’s about time we nurture a culture of encouragement.