Sometimes, during those dreamy ‘what if’ moments that seem to affect us all, I find myself reflecting upon what decisions I may have made earlier in life had I been given a higher degree of encouragement from own parents and teachers. Would I ever had struggled with weight loss? Would I have made a different career choice? Would I have had greater feelings of self-esteem and worth as I grew up? I know I’m not alone here, having had more than a few conversations with friends who have also pondered upon their past in a similar way.
Unlike some though, I certainly do not hold any grudges nor do I get lost in any useless wistful thinking. I have never felt anything other than a huge amount of affection, love and gratitude toward my wonderful parents. They did the best they could as parents. As I now know, it’s not an easy role to fulfill.
Tell Me Again, Norman Vincent Peale
So as much as I wanted it, verbal encouragement just wasn’t forth coming. In fact, back then (a few decades ago) it wasn’t forth coming for anybody much, at least not in the mainstream culture of suburbia in which I grew up. As it happened however, this seeming indifference toward my exuberant youthful dreams and ambitions eventually led me to absorb myself in many enriching and enlightening books. As a teenager and young adult, I added another dimension to my life as I worked my way through them, giving myself all the encouragement and motivation I so desired. One of the first ‘personal development’ books I ever read was The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, followed by How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. I was about 17 at the time and these books profoundly effected my choices and behaviours from that time on.
Back to My Parents
What my parents did verbalize and worry about a lot however was security and from that perspective they gave me their best advice, sharing all the stuff that other people had told them was important.
Maybe they should have snuck into my bedroom and read my books, because basically the advice I received from them went something like:-
1.Get a job, a really, really ‘secure’ one.
2.Get married (no specifics given here, although my mother leaned toward the ‘rich and professional type’).
4.Be a ‘good girl’.
Rules for Living, Expanded
I know my parents meant well and that ‘ticking all the boxes’ was very important to people of their generation. However if they were still alive today and perhaps if they had been given some encouragement along their way, I’d like to think they might now send me an amended version of The Rules for Living. I imagine this update to begin with the words Dear Daughter, I forgot to mention a few things…..
1. Follow your passions.
3. Live everyday with enthusiasm and optimism (or live everyday as if it were your last).
4. Never give up.
5. Always help and encourage others to follow their dreams.
Although these rules weren’t in the curriculum at school nor in the rules of life my parents passed on, they are the one’s I’ll pass onto my own kids, when they’re ready to learn them.
Giving and Receiving Encouragement
So what then of those absent ‘letters of encouragement’ my inner teenager sometimes yearns for? Well, I don’t really need them now. I know I was loved and if my parents had equated loving me with encouraging me, they would have. It just wasn’t a priority for them. I have also learnt that giving encouragement to others can be just as rewarding as receiving it yourself.
And so today I would like to send YOU a letter of encouragement. I know, I’m not your mother, but here it goes anyhow, a little letter from me to you to keep that fire burning within or perhaps to rekindle the embers of one that may be slowly going out.
I’ve noticed how hard you’ve been working lately and how tired you get sometimes. I also know how much you want some things in your life to change. And they will. It just takes time, a little persistence and self belief, but I know you possess those things. I know you can do it.
I also know that at times it seems everything around you is saying ‘give up’ or ‘you can’t do it’, but don’t listen to those messages. Listen to me, the voice of encouragement and love. It knows better than those naysayers. It knows that you possess an inner strength greater than you sometimes realise.
I also know you are a good person. In fact, I believe, you are a great person, and that so far in life, you have only skimmed the surface of what is possible for you.
So please don’t let yourself be discouraged. Stick with ‘it’. Whether ‘it’ is weight loss or some other type of personal change you now desire, it is all possible for you.
Your worth it and I’m proud of you.
Till next time friends,
P.S. This post was written in loving and respectful memory of Margaret and Richard, my parents.