The gift of encouragement
WHAT a truly great gift it is to receive a message of encouragement at the right time from the right person.
After returning last week from a very enjoyable Easter holiday, I awoke on Thursday morning with a severe case of post-holiday heebie-jeebies. This was the occasional but nonetheless recognisable feeling of trepidation, regret, doubt, fear and negativity that can creep up on one every now and then.
‘AAAAGGHHH! What was I doing taking all that time off when there’s so much to be done? There is too much to do and not enough time now and it is all too difficult anyway.’
This state can escalate easily to momentarily covering the world and one’s place in it with a dark shade of gloom. However, a well-timed and unexpected email immediately banished these futile feelings of blackness back to their cage of energy-sapping irrationality where they belong.
This was a simple, short but beautifully written message from someone I hold in very high regard, complimenting me on my Oban Times contribution published that day and making positive reference to a few other particular pieces.
As I’m sure most people do, I often have considerable periods of self- doubt regarding my output – in song-writing and in my Oban Times articles. I very much enjoy the writing process itself but during the thankfully transitory moments when the dark dogs of doom and doubt are hovering, I often think: ‘ What a load of cack and why would anyone be interested in such dribble?’
Baring parts of the soul to the wider world brings risks of rejection and ridicule to the fore and I suppose these are some of the things that, as humans, we are most affected by
That was how I was feeling last Thursday and the email received instantly sent these dark dogs whimpering away to a far off kennel where they should be and I was instantly refilled with vigour.
In a wider context, it brought forth recognition of the value of giving encouragement to others when it is relevant to do so. To the giver, it can seem insignificant but to the receiver it could have a huge influence and in some cases be truly life- changing.
Like most of the best things in life there is no downside to passing on a genuine compliment, there is never a bad time to do it and the virtuous circle of goodness it creates is one that can spread exponentially.
Whether you are a joiner talking to an apprentice, a teacher to a pupil, a skipper to a young crew member, a successful builder to a young plumber or an established writer emailing a novice columnist, words of encouragement are powerful and can have a life-long lasting positive effect.
The bounty of encouragement is indeed a golden gift.