I’ve noticed something, in life. Well, a couple somethings. But one of the important ones I’ve noticed is you can’t really go wrong with encouragement. By that I simply mean I’ve never said something to encourage someone else and regretted it later.
I talk a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Whether I’m with humans or animals or by myself I’m talking. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’m telling myself or someone else. And the reason that I talk a lot, the most fundamental reason, is because I’m hoping to bury my idiocy in a barrage of words so large that you can’t figure out which ones were stupid.
The really cool part is that no matter how much idiocy comes out of my mouth, I will remember all of it in case you don’t. You’re welcome.
I cringe at things I’ve said in high school still. Ugh. Thinking about it again. I was awful.
Point being, there’s lots of reasons why I’m an introvert, but one of the biggest is how exhausting I find social situations because of how much extra work and anxiety I put into my conversations. I’m not alone in this. But I am an obsessive over-analyzer, worrier, and as has been pointed out, I can be a little hard on myself from time to time.
All that being said, I’ve often told myself — before launching into a controversial conversation topic — that I shouldn’t talk. Just don’t do the mouth opening. I can’t ever seem to manage it and I always tell myself way later, “You see? This is why we can’t spend time with nice people. Because you say all the things.”
Given that at any moment something I personally find horrific/offensive/embarrassing/inappropriate/derogatory/etc will fly out of my mouth, the epiphany I had this week is exceptional.
The only words I have ever unequivocally not regretted saying have been words of encouragement.
For some reason, giving another human positive feedback never results in me later giving myself a pep-talk about “don’t use your words”.
I don’t know if you know this, but people love getting compliments and encouragement.
I know, mind-blowing.
I personally don’t care for it too much. Any positive word or note I’ve been given I burn immediately. When someone says something kind to me I immediately flip them off and walk away.
I LOVE positive feedback. I have saved every kind word anyone has ever written about me. Back to the fifth grade when we were all forced to write nice things down for our classmates. Half of them wrote “You played trumpet good”, like they knew, but STILL it made me feel great to get it.
Sometimes I wear clothes because I want to be complimented. Sometimes an encouraging word or a compliment can transform my entire day into something beautiful. And whenever someone says something nice to me, against my will I like them better.
Guys, there are literally no downsides to improving someone else’s day by treating them kindly and saying nice things to them. In fact, when I say something encouraging or kind, my own day improves too. It’s crazy.
It’s like giving someone a sandwich and then one magically appears on your desk. Man, people would be giving out sandwiches left and right if that was a thing.
I don’t know why it’s not like that for positive words. It should be, you’d think that’d be common. But we get caught up in all these stupid blocks:
- I bet they hear it all the time
- They don’t need to hear it from me
- I don’t have time to stop and tell them
- No one’s said anything nice to me in awhile, what’s the point
- If I say something nice it’ll start a conversation and that would be terrible (this one might be just me)
- I don’t want them to think too highly of themselves
- Let’s not get sappy and sentimental
- What if they take it wrong
Of course there’s more than those too. We all have weird reasons for why we don’t say nice things to others. But in my limited experience with positive expression, it does wonders. You might hear something like:
- Really? I always thought it wasn’t…
- You have no idea how much I needed to hear that today!
- Thanks! I wondered if anyone noticed…
- That makes my day
- I was thinking it might be time to stop…
- Seriously, thank you so much!
- You’re amazing! Here’s a thousand dollars and a sandwich.
No that last one hasn’t happened to me. But sandwiches are amazing, and a compliment in and of themselves. To food.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. But I say give it a try, you know? Just try telling someone that great thing you’ve observed about them. Don’t settle for liking a status on facebook, use your words.
I promise, this might be the only thing you say that you don’t regret.
2 thoughts on “Encouragement for Regretters”
No regerts!! oh yeah that’s the snickers commercial. or milky way… I like to talk also…. and unlike you make my living doing so… darn good thing I have a script called the good news! When I was about to graduate seminary I had a conversation with another student and we both agreed that when we graduated we were really going to let them have it!! You know …judgment and condemnation fire and brimstone and all that jazz. He did… and he is no longer in ministry or the pulpit. I’d like to think I didn’t but instead spent the better part of the last 34 years telling people there is hope, good news and encouragement. I’d like to think that anyway. You probably know better but you’re right… no regerts for the positive stuff. And maybe I regret not giving more positive stuff to you! You are amazing in so many ways and I don’t have time to spell them all out but I still tell people whenever it comes up that you are way more spiritually advanced than I am… I wish I had your spirit!
I think there’s a lot to be said for the longevity of those who are able to genuinely view others positively in love than negatively with disdain, and not just for the ministry. Thank you!