Strength of heart.
That’s something we all want and need, right? Encourage literally means, “to provide with strength of heart.”
For years, I’ve been choosing one perfect word to carry with me throughout the year. A word to ponder and grow into. I’m always surprised by what comes to the forefront as I sift and meditate on which word to choose.
Encourage has been my word for this year. It seemed a bit redundant to me since encouragement is something that naturally flows from me. I suppose my chronic positivity enables me to see the potential in others and find the good. For me, it’s simply part of daily communication to speak encouraging words. Thankfully, it is not forced or insincere. Thus, I wondered why I needed to focus on this word.
We never outgrow the need for affirmation. No matter our income, position, credentials, age or education – on a deep level, we all need to know we are valued and appreciated. Those who wear confidence well might appear to be above the need for encouragement, but it simply isn’t so. The little voice that comes to steal our best gifts might sleep for a season but can be awakened by the critical words of others, undue stress or mistakes that launch us into self-condemnation.
Encouragement is critical for leaders. I’m not referring to the form of encouragement that comes through others. An important quality of leaders is the ability to encourage themselves. Undoubtedly, it’s wonderful to receive words that uplift and to be the recipient of kind deeds that make you feel like others notice your efforts. But depending on others to provide a much-needed lift can leave you empty. Ironically, as an encourager, I have found discouragement pops up often in my own life. It’s a mental battleground that requires strategic action to regain a winning attitude.
Ways to Strengthen Your Heart
- Revisit your “WHY”. Since motivation is rooted in your vision for the future, you have to stop and remind yourself of your reasons. When it comes to what you’re working to achieve, any cost is too high without a reason why. Taking time to vividly imagine a positive result of your efforts will shift your perspective faster than anything else.
- Take a break. I’m not talking about a vacation, I’m talking about stepping out of the stress for a brief period of time. It might be 15 minutes or could be up to an hour. Do something that makes you laugh. Take a walk. Use the head space app. Keep a short list of activities that help you release tension. It might be something as simple as looking at pictures of your children or grandchildren. Or you might keep a foam roller handy and roll out the stress.
- Spend some time with people you are deeply connected with and soak up some love rays. It might be lunch with a friend, dinner with your spouse or a phone conversation with a family member.
- Check your physical energy supply and stop the leaks. Go through the basic checklist:
a. Are you getting enough sleep?
b. Are you eating too much sugar?
c. Are you self-medicating with alcohol, caffeine, food, meds, or other props that are depleting your reserves?
- Affirm the strengths and qualities of someone else. It can change everything. As you speak life and hope into the hearts and minds of others, you will activate those very qualities in yourself. There’s an amazing natural law that when you give away what you need, it comes back to you.
- Last, but not by any means least, I’ll let you in on what I refer to as my invisible advantage. I seize and apply the truth from the book of Jude. “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love…”. If you don’t know what that means, you’re missing out on a secret weapon for overcoming anything that comes against you. Ask me – I’m happy to show you the shield of faith. It is the antidote when discouragement and depression take siege against you.
The ability to strengthen your own heart will serve you well all the days of your life. Be of good courage.