We all need a little encouragement sometimes. We all need someone to say “Good job!” or “You’re awesome!”. Even for those who don’t really think about it that much, just to hear it is nice. But what do you do when there is no one around you who does?
I remember feeling particularly down one day, so I called a friend. After spending time on the phone with me, she asked me a very poignant question that caused me to wake up a little. Her question was phrased something like this, “Why did you let it get so far?” It took me a moment to realize what she was really asking me. Then I suddenly understood, I had been down in the dumps for quite a while. By the time I had called her, I was so far down she had to throw me the proverbial life ring, to bring me back to the shore of encouragement.
What was so sobering to me was that I had not even realized I was feeling that down. She let me know I needed to monitor myself better and encourage myself more often.
What is your encouragement barometer setting at right now? How far do you let it go before you realize you need encouragement? Now.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the people who monitor their weight very closely, or maybe you do yourself. They often say they allow themselves 5, maybe 10 pounds, of leeway. But once the scale hits that mark, they know to reel in bad habits that may have resurfaced.
What are your boundaries, encouragement wise? How do you monitor where you are on the encouragement scale? How far do you let yourself go before you realize you need to take time to encourage yourself? Listed below are a couple of ways to monitor your encouragement exposure rating. Okay, so that’s just a fancy way of saying be sure to take your encouragement medicine so you stay within your own encouragement boundaries.
Step #1: Watch your eyes (and ears)
“Oh, be careful little eyes what you see…oh, be careful little ears what you hear.” How many of you remember that childhood song? The validity of this song can affect us greatly, even as an adult. Be careful of what you watch and listen to on a daily basis. Are you listening to the news too long? It’s one thing to be aware of what is going on around us, it’s another to allow what we are hearing to affect us negatively in our day to day living. What about coworkers, associates, or “friends”? If there is that certain someone always saying something negative or gossiping about others around you, consider strongly rerouting the conversation or just eliminating conversing with them. Period.
Step #2: Watch your words
What are you saying about yourself? What are you saying about your circumstances or situation? While we don’t want to be in denial, for acknowledgment is important, we should be careful to not bury ourselves with our own words. Remember, your words have weight and power. Proverbs speaks of this strongly.
Proverbs 18:21 AMP
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.
Make sure your own words are not weighing you down.
Step #3: Watch what others are saying about you…to you!
It may not be your business what others are saying about you; but, it is your business what others are saying about you, directly to you! As a child, we may not have been able to control things that were spoken over us. “You’re no good!” “You’re just like you’re Daddy (or Mother); you’ll never amount to anything.” These words may have been spoken over you again and again. So, now, as an adult, you have a responsibility to get rid of negative self-talk and thoughts. As an adult, if you are engaged in a conversation and realize it’s taking a downturn, It’s up to you to deflect it, reroute it, or remove yourself from that situation. Be careful and aware of what words are being spoken over you and what words you remember from the past. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus, old things are passed away. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Step #4: Check your surroundings
What is your environment like? What kind of atmosphere are you exposed to on a daily basis? Just like smog or pollution can affect our breathing capacity, a negative atmosphere can affect our daily functionality. Do you need to turn on some encouraging music or listen to an inspirational podcast? Post scriptures or positive sayings around your work area, on your bathroom mirror, on your refrigerator, or any place you frequent. Get in the habit of surrounding yourself with positivity.
Step #5: Do the things that bring you peace and joy.
One day I was spending time with the Lord and I specifically heard Him say, “Do the things that bring you peace. Do the things that bring you joy.” This meant to me that I needed to be intentional and purposeful about my life.
Be purposeful about the things you do. Be purposeful about you. Spend time with you! Get to know who you are now. Maybe the things you liked to do 20 years ago, you no longer like to do. What do you like to do, now? At this point, at this juncture of your life, what are your favorite things.
Step #6: Be honest with yourself.
Are there any habits you have that cause you to feel down about yourself? Are there any things you do that promote self-sabotage? For example, if you have that last cookie, will you feel down about it later? If you have the last ten cookies, will you beat yourself up about it later? Be honest with yourself as you view and think about the things you do. Consider how these things will make you feel about yourself. Bring peace to yourself. What can you indulge yourself in that will also build you up?
Step #7: Think on these things
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
This one may be a re-iteration of some of the others but it bears repeating in its own way. Think about what you are thinking about. Be careful of being stuck on a mental rewind. Negative thought patterns can bring you down, causing a spiral of emotions and memories.
Hopefully, you have found these few points to be easily applicable to your everyday life. Once the ball gets rolling, it will become easier and easier to stay in a place of encouragement. Continue to check yourself and use your encouragement barometer.
Feel free to download the scripture mentioned above of Philippians 4:8.