|Paula, Denny, Meredith|
Remember, the discouraged individual is focused on the negatives in his situation. That’s natural—these are the issues that are causing his present distress!
To restore a balanced, realistic perspective, affirm the negatives, but remind the person that the situation isn’t all negative. There are advantages, potentials, opportunities, resources and other upsides going for it. Pointing these out is helpful, because the positives are real.
One of my two business partners, Paula Schlauch, was once out on extended medical leave. I absorbed most of her responsibilities during those two months.
At times I found myself getting anxious and discouraged from the additional pressures. My other partner, Denny Coates, works in another state and couldn’t help with most of these day-to-day tasks. But he was my encourager.
One day, when I was feeling really overwhelmed, I told Denny how hard it was to juggle everything. He asked me to talk about what was bothering me.
After listening without interruption, he acknowledged that what I was doing was hard. He reminded me of a time when I excelled despite some tough obstacles. Denny affirmed my personal strengths and reassured me that in the end I’d be able to get everything done. And he made a suggestion:
“It’s true that the last eight weeks have been just as hard as you say. But instead of focusing on the past, try shifting your perspective to the future. You know Paula will be back in a week or so. Think about that, and how great that will be.”
That simple conversation helped change my outlook. I felt like a new person when I went home that day. I had my confidence back. And I thought how great it is to have a partner who knows how to encourage.
When you’re in a position to offer encouragement to someone else, be sure to include this key step of offering perspective to help the person view the opportunities in the situation, not just the negatives.
"What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other?” - George Eliot, British novelist