If I believed in re-incarnation I would say that I must have been a cow-girl in a previous life. Seeing as I don’t believe in it, I will explain the following paragraph by confessing that I listen to a lot of JRFM (our local country music station).

This morning, after succeeding in climbing up a slide ladder she had never been able to climb before, my daughter, wild with excitement, yelled out “yee-haw!”. My first thought was, “what the..?”, soon followed by oh, I guess I use phrases like that when I express excitement over her accomplishments. (I have also taught her to say “chewbacca, chewbacca, chewbacca, spit”, as well as “honky tonk bedonk-a-donk” because they sound funny coming from a two-year-old but that is another topic and not one that will put me in a good light as a mother).

I know this must seem like a tangent but there was a logical process in my mind which led me to contemplate encouragement. I express frequent and heartfelt encouragement for my children’s accomplishments, however small, through words like “Good job!” and “Yee-haw!” as well as big mama bear hugs.  I do this, not because it is my “job” as their mom or because I am purposefully trying to foster self-esteem, but because I am truly excited to watch them grow and learn.

This comes naturally to me as a mother, but not as a person. Some people, like my husband, are naturally gifted encouragers. Others, like myself, are more inclined to be negative. For people who are naturally negative, the skill of encouragement needs to be learned and practiced. How different would life be, would our workplaces and friendships be, if we all learned to express to one another the kind of enthusiastic, heartfelt encouragement we express towards our children?

One of the reasons I struggled in my job as a nurse was the lack of encouragement in my workplace. I spent most of my time trying to keep my head above water as I struggled to learn the vast body of knowledge necessary for my work as well as fight the mental battle raging inside of my head. I can’t help but wonder how different, how much easier, my experience might have been if instead of only correction for what I had done wrong, I had received encouragement for what I had done right.

I needed this type of positive affirmation from my superiors and I did not receive it. In fact, in my two and a half years at that workplace I can’t think of one encouraging word that was said to me by my leaders. But I see now that encouragement goes both ways and that while I can’t drag it out of others, I can dole it out to those around me.

I hope to return to a casual nursing position sometime in the next year and it is my prayer that as I enter the workplace as a changed individual, strengthened through motherhood and emotionally leveled through medication, that I will be an encouragement to those around me. It will not come naturally but I hope to be able to take my experience as an encouraging mother and transfer it to an existence as an encouraging co-worker. Giddy-up!

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