Encouragement is my favorite! I love receiving it, but it fills my heart to the brim to give it. If I could just walk around with red lips, rhinestones glued to the corners of my eyes, and pom poms, encouraging everyday people, I totally would. But, those everyday people might feel more freaked out than encouraged. It honestly baffles me, though, why we don’t give each other more encouragement on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at some things that keep us from encouraging one another more.
WE FEEL BAD ABOUT OURSELVES
When our heads are filled with negative self-talk, it’s hard for anything positive to catch our attention. When something positive about someone else does catch our attention, we tend to either feel worse about ourselves, tear down the other person, or both. But why?
When we see someone who seems to be doing better than us, that triggers our fear response because it appears that there are less resources or less room for us. Some people will be swallowed up by the anxiety and shrink away deeper into negative self-talk. Some people will “take out the threat” (usually verbally or through gossip) so there is more room and resources.
It’s hard to be encouraging when stuck in such a cycle of negativity. In this case, encouraging another feels like you’re giving your precious little resources to someone else. But God’s economy doesn’t work like that.
When we give encouragement, we form connection with others. It is in an encouraging Christ-centered community and armed with the Truth of God’s Word that we can combat the lies in our heads and stave off scarcity mode in our brains. Jesus came to give us abundant life and that is experienced in encouraging communities.
IT FEELS WEIRD
This is the other main reason we don’t encourage one another. When we don’t do something regularly, it feels weird. We worry how the other person will interpret our encouragement and how they might judge us for it. But there is a difference in encouragement vs. flirting, and encouragement vs. sucking up. The first one has a romantic motivation and the second an air of manipulation. Good old fashioned encouragement is simply recognizing someone else for what they’ve done, a quality you appreciate about them, or cheering them on towards a goal. The more you do it, the more natural it will feel.
This week, look for the good qualities of others. Notice when they show good character. Speak it out loud. Finally, tell that person what you’ve always admired about them. For another level of challenge, encourage the people around you that you find hard to like. They may be the ones who really need it the most. If nothing else, it will set your mind towards finding good qualities in them instead of focusing on all the things that annoy you about them.
Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Let us give grace with our words this week. To our spouses, roommates, children, coworkers, friends, and even the lady at the grocery store struggling to get her toddler into the cart. Let our words be a fountain of life to everyone we encounter.
Meet the Author!
Phoebe is a therapist at Connect Counseling at Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoption, mom to the very lively Vivi and very chill Charlie, and wife to Jeff. You may spot her out and about at almost any Target in the area with a coconut milk latte in hand. She enjoys nonfiction books, Disney movies, and helping others find peace and healing in the hope of the Gospel.
This blog is meant to further the conversation about mental health and is not intended as medical or professional advice.