Reflections : What is EncouragementRashi Bhargava
Student says, “I am very discouraged. What should I do?” Master says, “Encourage others.” – Zen Proverb.
What is Encouragement? It is “the ACT of Giving HOPE or CONFIDENCE.” Think about this for a moment. You, through encouragement, have the POWER to give someone hope or confidence and as a result encouraging yourself and lifting your spirit and life condition.
When we are feeling stuck or when we are faced with an unprecedented challenge, it’s often helpful to read words of encouragement to not only encourage ourselves, but inspire us to be an encouraging force to others.
I have been facing anxiety issues, hopelessness and loneliness post my Mom’s demise. After Mom it’s just me and my Dad. I have always shared a rocky relationship with my father. Our daily communication are patchy, devoid of warmth. There are times when I crave for my age person to talk to. Years of taking care of my Mom as a primary giver and now my Dad has taken a big toll on my mental well being. Working from home for the last 8 years also hasn’t helped my cause. So pandemic came at the worst possible time in my life, when my mental fitness was all time low.
Things were improving but the second wave undid the progress which I had made during my therapy sessions. The April-May lockdown has been nothing short of brutal. The second wave of Covid had come closer to home. For three weeks I battled with my friends, supporting them fight Covid in their families.
The fear and anxiety in the air that was looming rubbed on me too. Social isolation got on my nerves. On top of it couldn’t go for my daily walk/run, my only me time activity. Work became a burden. I started spending lot of time in bed just lying down and doing nothing. I started to find myself falling into a negative spiral like never before. The problems of life started to get to me.
How do we remain optimistic when the world seems to be falling apart around us? This question came floating into my mind when I was reading my mentor’s writings on Hope. Things were getting worse and I was not the only person on the receiving end. In that sense Hope is a decision. It is the most important decision one can take. Hope has the power to change harshest winters to bright summer, barrenness to creativity, agony to joy.
To pull myself from this life state, the answer that came to me, post my self reflection was to encourage just one person next to me and thereby create a ripple effect. Challenging to encourage another life when you yourself are short of inspiration 🙂
The next step was how do I reach out to the next person when social isolation was mandatory? Writing digital letters, making doodles of love, hope and encouragement seemed like a really great way. From 18th April till date I have made more than 150 doodles, made 25 videos and written 5 letters to unknown people, requiring a shot of hope. The reach and the responses have been unprecedented.
I didn’t expect the effects of the initiative to be so tangible in my life. In doodling and writing letters of love, hope, kindness and understanding, I found that I myself began to feel more encouraged. As I was writing to someone else, I myself was hearing my own words, and it lifted my spirits to hang in there. This too shall pass.
Sharing few ways we can encourage others:
1.Every human has an inherent need of being loved and appreciated. Its not a bad idea to learn people’s love language. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
In the last few days I have really learnt and applied the love language to reach out to that one life and plant seeds of hope and encouragement.
2.I am a shy and introverted person. But life has taught me if an encouraging thought comes to mind, shyness should not hold me back from instantly sharing it.
Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today” (Hebrews 3:13).
3.I love flowers and cards. This is something I use extensively to spread smiles and happiness. Also it is a tangible sign that you are thinking of someone even when they’re not around.
4.Handwritten note/doodle .Although most communication is more and more digital today, there’s still nothing like receiving a hand-written note/doodle in the mail. I rolled out more than 25 packets to my comrades in faith and running friends.
5.I am very vocal when it comes to telling people that I am praying and chanting for them. Try this. It is the most comforting feeling in the world to know that somebody in this world is praying for your wellbeing.
6.I am a sucker for celebrating everything small or big. This way at least we will have good memories to fall back upon when tough times like pandemic strike us.
Make celebrations a more regular part of our precious relationships. Celebrating one another’s’ victories, large and small, with a note, virtual coffee together, a special virtual meal, a congratulatory phone call, or just a high-five is a great way of encouraging someone dear.
7.The power of presence. Just being there can be encouraging. When you are with others, you are telling them that they are important.
8.Use encouragement as a form of outreach. If anyone should be known for being an encourager, I want to be known as Encourager. Writing a letter of appreciation to people at work, your doctor, or a therapist in my case 🙂 Often when we interact with these people, we are asking for their services. It’s nice to take time just to say thank you.
9.If you really want to encourage someone who has given you excellent service, write a letter of commendation to the person’s boss/testimonial which can be used to showcase the good work.
10.Tell people how they have encouraged you. Most of the time I go overboard on this form of encouragement 🙂