Once upon a time.
Chapel Hill a mysterious land far, far away.
One of the many benefits of ownership was The Husband & I could always find time to lift together.
Not only did these training sessions strengthen our muscles—they bolstered our marital bonds.
In addition, working-out together provided me a life-insight which serves me still 2+ decades later.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
When we trained & I was his spotter *and* his cheerleader.
Two more! Come on! You have two more reps left in you!! I’d
scream remind him.
The majority of the time, he’d eek additional reps surprising even himself with his strength.
When we trained we quickly learned I required only a spotter—-never a cheerleader.
(the 90’s were very serious times.)
Two more! He’d encourage when I’d falter and move to rack the weights.
I’d stop anyway.
Ten more pounds! He’d suggest as I’d slide plates on a barbell and ready to bench press.
I’d ignore him & lift the weight I’d already planned.
It wasn’t I didn’t value his opinion or knowledge—he simply wasn’t choosing words/phrasing to which I responded.
When cheered on I tended to stop sooner than I otherwise might (hence the play on the word MISFIT when I launched the blog).
When on the receiving end of encouraging words the Husband was motivated to do more than he’d thought he could.
It was during those weights sessions it began to dawn on me how unique each person’s Language of Encouragement is.
(serious. serious. dreadlocked business.)
Around the same time a friend, whose goal was weight-loss, asked if I’d be her accountability partner.
We chatted daily. I asked about her workouts & eating plan. I’d make suggestions where I thought she needed help.
Our calls soon tapered to weekly and then more sporadically than that.
When I asked what happened she explained my “nagging” made her feel pressured.
She shared she felt like a failure if she didn’t measure up to what she thought I expected of her.
Cue life-insight moment part two.
Instead of shouting a metaphorical two more reps!! at her (I knew how little that motivated me) I fell back on my Language of Encouragement.
A language which wasn’t hers.
The experience with my friend reinforced how vastly different all of our Languages of Encouragement are.
- I do not respond well to “cheering-on” as I believe I intuitively know my limitations better than others.
- I do respond well to “check-ins” about my goals. I perceive these not as nagging, but as indication the person has heard me and is invested in my success.
- Learning someone’s specific Language of Encouragement allows me to move from intention (wanting to help) to concrete action (speaking her language).
I began asking everyone (loved ones to clients) to define her Language of Encouragement for me.
I now knew if I didn’t ask I’d accidentally fall back upon using *my* language. Actions and words which most likely would not resonate.
(looks up from memory lane travels to see if anyone is still reading)
Two decades later I think about these scenarios frequently.
They taught me the importance of defining what I require to feel supported/encouraged (check-in with me. offer gentle reminders of my goals.).
They showed me encouraging others necessitates I view the world through their perspective and must pause, ask the person what’s important to her and learn how she best gains momentum to achieve her goals.
Good gosh we humans are complicated.
Amazing, beautiful and complicated.
- Have you considered your Language of Encouragement? Have you shared it with others?
- What well-intended words can cause you to feel discouraged?