Friday, October 3, 2008

Encouraged to be Discouraged

Do we still encourage each other?
It's hard to tell. I hear, and dole out so many "you are right to feel that way..." and "who wouldn't be (whatever emotion it is) about that..." comments, that I wonder how effective they are.
They really are effective. The effect is that the hearer has confirmation that their dejected, downstrodden state is normal and that there isn't any hope otherwise. The effect is that there are so many influential people (e.g. parents, grandparents, child care providers, teachers, etc.) that remain convinced that their circumstance merits a state of discouragement, and that they/we must continue to plod along in said state.
Since when to circumstances dictate our character? Better, when should they? Isn't it more true that our circumstances show our character? Why don't we encourage one another rather than commiserate?
I am not great at having the 'right' thing to say when someone is feeling discouraged. I am sure trite phrases won't help, so I avoid saying anything at all. When I have had a terrible day, week, whatever, and I am in tears and don't see how I can continue with current circumstances, the last thing I want to hear is "This too shall pass" or "You'll laugh about this later"
AAAuuggghh! SHUT UP!!!
How about an offer to help with something. Anything. 'Can I get you a cup of coffee?'. Not that the coffee solves the problem, but that the listener is willing to continue listening is a relief! Maybe 'It is discouraging when things don't come out the way we hoped they would.' This is an empathetic statement. It does not in any way validify a tantrum or a continuation of a downtrodden attitude.
It is also not a bright yellow smiley face demanding perky replies at every 'how are you?'!
Encourage, people! Yes, things can get better. What if they don't? Isn't attitude more important than the circumstance?
Author Dave Branon shares about two rollerbladers, whose favorite route is a long hill. One would say "are you ready for the hill?" Just before pushing their way to the top. One day, the other rollerblader said "could you please not say that? You make it sound like a huge mountain and that discourages me."
Every hill is too high if we think we have to climb it all at once - and if the people around us keep telling us it is insurmountable and that is all there is too it!
Take the hill a little at a time, and remind one another, that we have accomplished something, and we are about to accomplish something else!

No comments: