On Encouragement

Encourager: (v) 1. To inspire with courage, spirit or confidence.  2.  To stimulate by assistance, approval.  3.  To promote, advance, or foster.  – Dictionary.com

I am an encourager.  For years, I’ve known this is my number one spiritual gift – and for years, I’ve lamented that it wasn’t something more glamorous.  Today, I’m grateful for this gift as I see the impact and need for people to be encouraged, to be lifted, to be told, “you ARE amazing”.

My epiphany this morning, while responding to a Facebook comment, was, am I in equal exchange?

Bear with me for a moment, okay?  Equal exchange?  What the hell does that mean?  I was first introduced to the idea of “equal exchange” a few years ago.  Exhausted and part of a reduction in force, I took my severance and a six-month sabbatical from work.  I started reading self-improvement books, reaching out to life coaches and online therapy groups.  I started reaching out for help – more help than traditional therapy was able to give me.

The idea of equal exchange is – what you give, you need to be open to receive.  If you’re not open to receiving, you can experience burnout, emotional emptiness, depression, anxiety…get the idea?

So, here I am.  On my day off, drinking coffee and sitting in silence.  I hop on Facebook and post about my morning, some pictures and really, how wonderful it feels to be present.  Here in the now.  As people began to respond to my post, I found myself responding to a friend, “I’m rooting for you.”

Normally, I just go about my day and not think anything of it.  But you see, today is different.  I took today off because I’m angry and hating going to work.  I realized I needed an attitude adjustment.  I needed some time to myself and examine why I’m feeling this way.  What boundary doesn’t exist or was not enforced?  Why am I angry?

In my moment today, I realized, I’m angry because I’m not receiving.  I’ve given so much encouragement and advice this month to people at work and I was not open to receiving encouragement back.  That was my boundary.  I kept giving and giving – and steeling myself over work politics.  Caring for other team members and helping them through, that I forgot to look for and accept encouragement.

Instead, I practiced some self-soothing.  Let me tell you, in my opinion, self-soothing is not self-care.  Self-soothing is about immediacy without thinking of the consequences.  For instance, during that stressful week where I’m encouraging and lending my strength to other team members, I went out and drank a little too much.  The next day, I woke up with that lovely hangover headache.  I also spent more money on “things” rather than saving.  These are all coping mechanisms that I am aware of in my subconscious but not AWARE in the present.  All because I WAS NOT IN EQUAL EXCHANGE.

Now, getting back to the epiphany.  After I responded with, “I am rooting for you”, I paused and thought to myself – “I am rooting for you, JoEll.”  Tears began to prickle.  A brain rush like when you eat more wasabi than soy sauce at a sushi joint ran through me.  My heart, my spiritual body needed to hear this from ME.  My spiritual self needed to know that I support it.  That A-HA moment was so clear and remains so.

If we don’t encourage ourselves, how can we accept (and I mean really accept) encouragement from others? 


As you go about your days in 2020, I hope you spend some time encouraging yourself.  You can do that through affirmations (I AM amazing.  I AM enough.) and through taking a moment to be one with the world, your environment as it is…and say to yourself, “I am rooting for you.”

Be kind, especially to yourself.  May this be of service.  xoxo


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