Updated: Nov 22, 2022
Hearing a word of encouragement from a friend or colleague, or client is wind in my sails. I’m not alone.
Everyone needs attention, encouragement, and the affirmation of their value in order to thrive. It is a universal human need. Receiving encouragement from others boosts your confidence and motivation. Encouragement meets our human desire to be seen and supported. It also offers validation and stimulates pride in your accomplishments.
However, encouragement is not praise. It is not merely about cheering or approval. Encouragement focuses on effort and doing rather than being right or the illusion of perfection. It catalyzes an upward spiral of growth rather than a perpetual need to secure a judgment of worth.
Notice what sort of encouragement resonates with you. For some, this comes through expressions of support and people simply being there for you. For others, you might appreciate a secure emotional footing that instils confidence. Sometimes, encouragement happens through people feeding your hope, reminding you that a better outcome is a real possibility. Appreciate those around you who provide this, and if there are gaps, share how others can fill those or seek out people who are likely to do so.
Also, consider reciprocating. You appreciate encouragement from others. How can you offer encouragement to those around you? They will appreciate it too! Encouragement fuels life-giving relationships.
Furthermore, just as you can offer encouragement to others, you can also offer it to yourself. Self-compassion is a form of intrinsic encouragement. It flows from a source inside. It flows from you, for you.
Some of the myths of self-compassion are that it makes you soft, that it will make you lazy or unproductive. Science, on the other hand, tells a different story.
Treating yourself with kindness or as you would treat a good friend actually makes you stronger and more productive. Research reveals that self-compassion is one of the most powerful sources of coping and resilience available to us. It empowers us to keep going in the face of difficulty. Whether you treat yourself as an inner ally or enemy determines your ability to cope successfully when the going gets tough. As far as motivation is concerned, there is a great deal of research clearly showing that encouragement is a far more effective force for motivation than punishment. Self-compassion personalizes this. Far from being a way out, self-compassion actually offers a way in. It diffuses the difficulties we inevitably face and provides the encouragement and support needed to do our best and try again.
So, offer compassion to yourself and seek out life-giving relationships. Both will provide you with encouragement to sustain and give meaning to life. Isn’t that what we are all looking for?