So many of us miss out on the joys of our dream life simply because we’re too anxious or worried about things beyond our control.

Instead of spending our time finding motivation and disciplining ourselves to reach the dreams that we have, we waste time worrying about questions we have no way of answering.

We ponder the “What if…” questions that spiral on without end, instead of the “How can I…” questions that lead to action.

My hope this month was to equip you with skills that will help you attain the encouragement you need to pursue your dreams, despite your anxiety and fear.

Earlier, we discussed how to encourage yourself but, if we’re all honest with ourselves, even the most positive and motivated person needs an encouraging word occasionally.  We all need support and help along the way, but how do we go about finding that encouragement?

I’m thrilled you asked.

People, Media, and Work are 3 areas you can look to for the encouragement.  These are not the only areas you can look, but this short list will get you started.  Let’s explore deeper.

1. People

When most of us think about encouragement that comes from external sources, we think of other people.  We think of coaches, family members, friends, co-workers, even strangers who, at one time or another, told us that we can survive our worries and fears.

For example, when I was younger, I remember my family and I were leaving a restaurant and on our way back to our car, I noticed a woman standing outside the restaurant.  She was facing a wall with her hands covering her face.  She was obviously troubled and crying profusely.

Like any other kid, I just stared at her as I walked by, wondering what was going on.  As my family passed the woman, I remember my dad turning back and walking over to her.  He said something to her.  She nodded.  He smiled at her, then turned back to catch up with the rest of us.

Confused, I asked, “Did you know her, dad?”

He shook his head, “No son, but sometimes it helps to tell people who are hurting that everything’s going to be alright.”

As we were getting into our car, I took one last glance at the woman.  She was now wiping the tears from her face and composing herself.  She looked toward our car, smiled, then turned around and went into the restaurant.

I don’t know exactly what my dad said to her, I don’t know what problem she was having.  But, I witnessed how someone, even a stranger saying a kind word, can change someone’s perspective.

How do you find people who are willing to offer you an encouraging word?

1.   Share your struggles and difficulties with people who you know and can trust. Talking to people we know and care about is hard, but sometimes they are the best people for us to connect with for encouragement.  Your friends and family genuinely want you to be happy and successful.  They will also usually tell you what you want to hear and more importantly, what you need to hear.

2.  Find people similar to you and talk with them.  One of the beautiful things about the internet is that people have an amazing ability to group themselves with others of related struggles and interests.  Communities exist online for people who struggle with anxiety and need a safe place to vent, get advice, and encouragement.  If you want a few suggestions of safe online communities, go to my resources page.

3.  Encourage others.  One of the most effective ways to get encouragement from others is to give it.  Being an encouraging voice for someone else is helpful in 3 ways:

  1. You get to pour into someone else who needs help.  Nothing’s more gratifying than being helpful to someone else.
  2. By taking the time to focus on the needs of someone else, you effectively stop focusing on your own concerns.  I can testify that writing this blog has helped me to discard a lot of my fears, simply because I’m focused on helping you.  By reading, researching, and writing to serve you, I’ve inadvertently had to work on myself and make changes that I likely wouldn’t have made on my own.  So, try being helpful to someone else and see how it helps you too.
  3. When you are encouraging and helpful to other people, they often want to return the favor.

2. Media

The definition of “media” has grown over the years.  Yet, at its core, media is simply the act of exchanging information.  Since the beginning of time, people have been finding ways to exchange information in order to teach, persuade, and encourage each other.

Some examples of media today are newspapers, blogs, television, social media platforms, magazines, books, and radio.

How do you use media to find encouragement?

Seek out media sources that inspire you to change for the better.  These will be different for everyone, but I’ll share two recommendations.  Books and podcasts.

Books are probably the most tried and true methods of encouragement.  Even with the rise of the internet, and the freedom of information available through Google, most people still look to books to learn and garner the encouragement they seek.

Fiction books allow you to take a journey at your own pace, get involved with the characters and learn lessons from them as you read.  Non-fiction books give you directives on how to improve your life.  Finding the books that encourage you may take some trial and error, but here’s how to shortcut that process.

A great place to get started is Amazon.com.  They have hundreds of books available.  Some out of print or Kindle books are even free.  The best part about Amazon are the reviews.  The reviews are the personal feelings of people who have read a book.  I recommend skipping the 5-star and 1-star reviews.  In my opinion, they are often biased one way or another.  Instead, focus on the 2-4 star reviews.  These reviews tend to be detailed and honest.  Use the reviews to determine whether or not a specific book is right for you.

If you need a few recommendations to get you started, I’ve listed 10 books on my resources page that may supply the encouragement you need.

A newer form of media that is becoming more popular are podcasts.  A podcast is essentially an internet radio show but with a few perks.  Unlike radio, you can rewind, fast forward, listen to a show at a faster or slower speed, and even share the show with a loved one.  If you subscribe to a specific podcast, you’ll have access to all the shows they’ve ever published, so you never have to miss one.

You will find multiple podcasts covering all kinds of topics.  To help you with your search, consider this list of the most popular self-improvement podcasts.  I also have a few of my favorites on the resources page.

3. Work

OK, I know this one sounds pretty far-fetched.  How can you possibly find encouragement from work?  Well, as with most things, it’s all in how you look at it.

Most of us have 1 of 3 different feelings about our jobs.  You either love it, hate it, or feel indifferent about it.

If you love your job, you probably do some kind of work that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning.  You’re learning new things and challenging yourself every day.  You’re fulfilled by that work.  If that’s you, then your work is probably already a source of encouragement for you.  When you feel down or depressed, you can look to your work to bring joy to your life.  The days that you’re feeling good, your work only enhances those emotions.

If you truly love your work, allow yourself to be moved by how your work makes you feel.  Then carry those feelings with you into other areas of your life.  Try to recreate that joy by using the things you love about your work as a model.

But what if you don’t love your job.  What if you hate it?

Hate is a strong word, so I hope you take care in using it to describe a feeling.  If you have, then your job may cause you to feel instantly angry when your alarm goes off in the morning.  You don’t desire to interact with your coworkers or boss.  You constantly look at the clock, hoping and praying for the time to fly by.  Perhaps, you’ve even been brought to tears at the thought of having to work another day.

I know how this feels.

Just out of graduate school, I landed a job that I thought would help me come out of my shy shell and allow me to help people.  Luckily, I was able to help people, but the hours, minimal pay, and management that was apathetic to caring for their staff caused the job to feel overwhelming.  One morning, while I was getting ready to go to work, I found myself sitting on the side of my bed angry, defeated, and dreading the work day before me.  I was at the end of my rope and just didn’t want to work there anymore.  But, I couldn’t quit.  I had responsibilities.

I found that disliking my job encouraged me to figure out what I truly wanted out of life.  I started looking for other jobs and thinking about what would be a good fit for me.  The more I thought about wanting to leave, the more encouraged I was to figure things out.

Perhaps you already know you don’t want to continue working at your current job, so what are you going to do?  Use your emotions for your current employment as the motivation to learn new skills and take new risks to help propel you into your next job.

Make time before or after work to build the life that you truly want.  Nobody can stop you except you.

Finally, if you’re indifferent about your work, allow those feelings to speak to you and lead you to your heart’s true desire.  Examine why you don’t enjoy work more than you do.

Can you make some changes or adjustments to improve your work experience?

Try to determine if you no longer care about the work you do.  Does your work satisfy you?  Are you still committed to your job or has something changed?  Have you changed?  Is a career change necessary for the future or do you need to rededicate yourself to your job so you can find success again?

Also, consider your life away from work.  Perhaps your work isn’t fulfilling because it’s the only thing you do that can potentially fulfill you.  Finding a hobby,  joining a club, getting involved with a passion project outside of work may be all you need to improve your work situation.

Your work can be the encouragement you need.  Take some time and look into what your job gives you besides money.  You may realize that you’re in the perfect job or that it’s just not for you.  But once you realize that, use that knowledge as encouragement to either keep working to continue your success or to seek out what your heart desires.

Look Everywhere for Encouragement

My father has a saying, “There are blessings all around us.”  I’ve always loved that and I think it adapts well to our topic today.  So, I’ll close with this:

There is encouragement all around you, just take a moment to notice it.


Next Action Steps

We all struggle with issues we can't overcome on our own.  In those moments we need encouragement.  In the comments below share where you get the most encouragement.  Is it a family member or a  friend?  Is it a quote, a specific book, or blog post?  Is it a video or a photo?  Where do you get your encouragement from?  Feel free to leave links to your favorite sources of encouragement.

For Example: These quotes always help to motive me when I'm struggling or feeling stuck with my anxiety.

"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."- Henry David Thoreau

“Press on – nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Perseverance and determination alone are omnipotent.” - Calvin Coolidge


 

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