In addition to writing this blog, I get to manage the Life Skills Resource Group Facebook and Twitter pages. This is a lot of fun, because it involves looking for materials which others would enjoy or benefit from. I get to look at lots of inspirational and philosophical messages and read lots of articles, trying to pick out what I think is most exciting or most useful. Every once in a while something really speaks to me. Today I’d like to write about one of those things.
There it is. “You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” ~Zig Ziglar. I don’t know who Zig Ziglar is, but as soon as I read this, I was taken back to a conversation I had with a friend. In fact, that friend was maybe more of an acquaintance at the time. The conversation brought us closer – a lot closer – in only a moment. But it didn’t have to.
A mutual friend, let’s call her Betty, had told me that this acquaintance, let’s call her Sue, had been having a hard time. I happened to run into Sue, and she was really kind to me. I had just made some big life decisions, and Sue was very complementary. I recalled what Betty had said, and even though Sue was not a close friend, I decided to try to encourage her in that moment – to tell her what I really thought in that moment. I said something like “Hey, I hope you realize you’re amazing and really worth it.” I gave her a big hug. I wanted to see her happy.
That was it. That was the extent of our interaction that day. Later, Betty called me, and said “I don’t know what you said to Sue, but it really made a difference to her.” In that week after we spoke, Sue had taken actions for herself. She had ended a relationship that was negatively affecting her, and she was thinking highly of herself, putting herself first.
It had only taken one comment from me. Sue had to do the work for herself. But one little comment from me, one person telling her she was important and capable, was enough to help Sue do what she’d been wanting to do. And if Betty had never called me to tell me, I might never have known the impact I had. I never would have given it a second thought.
Our words matter. Our words can lift someone up without us ever knowing it. Our words can crush someone without us ever knowing it. Sometimes the words of someone close to us (like a mother, father, sibling, or good friend) can matter the most. Other times the words of someone who doesn’t know us as well can make a huge difference (can you imagine how great it would feel to be told you did a good job by your role model or a random person who didn’t even know your name?). A coach, a teacher, a boss, a fellow human being in the grocery store: if one of these people said “Wow, you did a great job!” or scoffed and said “I can’t believe I’m wasting my time with you.” what would that mean to you?
Regardless of who we are, our words matter. My words matter. Your words matter.
Who has lifted you up with words? Who has thrown you into the depths of despair with words? What words have stayed with you in your life? Are there a lot of words echoing in your ears?
Who do you think you’ve helped or hurt with words? Who do you think has your words echoing in their ears? If you have lots of words echoing in your ears, your words are probably also echoing for a lot more people than you think.
This weekend is Father’s Day, so I was also thinking about relationships with our fathers, mothers, other family, and those we choose as our family. There’s plenty of words that echo within families. I read a great article on Psychology Today about encouragement – the author had been discouraged from writing by his father, but felt encouraged by a high school teacher. It turned out that he remembered the encouragement incorrectly, the teacher hadn’t really believed in him as much as he remembered, but the truth didn’t matter. What mattered was how the author felt. He remembered encouragement and used that encouragement to see him through – someone believed in him, so he could keep working. For this author, his father’s words of discouragement echoed in his ears, but the encouragement he remembered from his teacher echoed too. It was enough for him to work.
Some are lucky enough to get the encouragement they need from their father (or mother or other family). Some find encouragement in teachers or coaches. Some find encouragement from friends. Others have to go looking for encouragement. Whether you have to look hard for encouragement, haven’t heard encouragement in years, or receive encouragement frequently, use the encouragement you’ve received to keep you going when times are tough. And be sure to be a giver of encouragement too. If you haven’t received encouragement easily, you know how it feels to be without encouragement. You can channel that feeling into providing encouragement for others – into being for others what you didn’t have.
Maybe this blog has made you realize you need to heal a relationship, be careful with your words, or say thank you for encouragement you’ve received. Maybe you need to process the encouragement or discouragement you’ve received in your life. If you’re in Orlando and you would like a partner in dealing with encouragement, discouragement, changing your habits, or rebuilding relationships, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando at 407-355-7378. Our experienced Orlando counselors, psychologists, hypnotherapists, and life coaches are here to guide you and give you the support you need.
With belief in you (really, you are amazing and can do great things!) ~Krista