Most of us, when we find a friend discouraged, find words to encourage. Many of us find it within us, when we find even a total stranger or someone that we do not know well or call friend discouraged, the ability to find words to encourage. We do this almost instinctively. We do this with right intention. We do this in order to raise up one of our fallen, to help them back into life. Think about the kinds of things that you say, or would say, to a discouraged fellow human being. It might be general things about reconnecting with life, with loves, with work, of taking one step at a time because one is able to do that, to hold faith in oneself, to keep a positive thought.
We know when we encounter a discouraged fellow that they need new words to replace the ones they are telling themselves.
We all tell ourselves things. Most of us fall into very old patterns of telling ourselves negative things. In fact, we tell ourselves things that we would never tell a discouraged fellow. Because we do that, we need to do some house cleaning, a mental break. We owe it to ourselves to regroup our thinking around the kinds of messages we would use to encourage another. Why would we not?
Here is a way to personalize your own best message to yourself. Simply ask (and write down the first thing that comes to you): what would I want someone to say about me if they didn’t know I was listening? Write that down. If you need to, shorten it to a short sentence or two and turn it into first person statements. Instead of “he is the kind of man who . . . rewrite it so that it now says: I am the kind of man who . . . Now, repeat it to yourself. Choose to begin to tell yourself this message. Any time you have a moment to yourself, choose to tell yourself this message.
Sacred stories are full of “I am” messages, and we often attribute them to divine persons. I believe they exist as reminders that this is who we all are. Dr. Ysaye Barnwell, author of many songs writes these words in our hymn, We Are, this month. I think they are worth memorizing and using as messages to ourselves.
Mothers of courage
Fathers of time
Daughters of dust
Sons of great vision.
Sisters of mercy
Brothers of love
Lovers of life and
the builders of nations.
Seekers of truth
Keepers of faith
Makers of peace and
the wisdom of ages.
We are all of these things. Some of us don’t know it. Some of us don’t believe it. Some of us have forgotten it. Some of us demonstrate it every day. We all need these words. They should be among our sacred texts.