We live in a culture that is so quick to criticize, condemn, and put us down. Social media makes it simpler for someone to leave a negative comment without even thinking about who will be hurt. We can feel sabatoged by family, co-workers and even strangers.
In this setting, I am blessed to witness the transforming power of affirmation. Like a wilting flower reaching for the rain, or a hungry kitten lapping up a bowl of milk, I experience the eagerness of a wounded soul soaking in words of kindness and respect. I see the shift in expression of one who is praised for courage, insights, strengths and effort and watch as they grow a bit stronger and more hopeful.
There have been periods in my own life when words of criticism were plentiful and I doubted my own self-worth and value. I believed I was not “enough”, was always screwing up, falling short and a disappointment. Words of criticism cut into my spirit like a knife and robbed me of confidence and joy. In those seasons, I was grateful for a few close friends who spoke life to me, challenged me to love and accept myself and were willing to affirm my value.
How many times a day do you catch your child doing something good, kind, or generous and encourage the very behavior that you would love to see continue? I encourage you to look them in the eye, give them your undivided attention (without looking at your cell phone) and really listen to them, showing an interest in what is important to them. When my kids were young, I felt inspired to start a journal for each of them. I would write a letter to them at least once a year and tell them what I most appreciated about them as a person and what having them in my life meant to me. I would mention their talents and special interests, their character strengths and what I loved about them. As adults, I gave them these journals and I believe they treasure them.
When was the last time you gave a coworker a compliment or pointed out the strengths that you admire? Studies show that people will work harder for praise and acceptance then they will for anything else, including money.
Speak life! Send a ripple of affirmation into your family, community, and the world. Our words have the power to ignite passion, build bridges and encourage creativity. Speak life in person, on social media and when you look in the mirror.