Encouragement amidst the challenges of living in South Africa

Written by on 9 September 2021

Now, more than ever, we should be more aware of the mental wellbeing of our family and friends and how they are keeping up with the challenges of living in South Africa.

But, even more important, we should know how to encourage them when they are struggling or even just having a bad day or two. So many South Africans are distressed and exposed to high levels of uncertainty and anxiety. Various studies prove that, and we experience it in our own lives every day.

But how do we encourage someone (or even yourself)?

A genuinely friendly face with a smile goes a long way to brighten up someone’s day. It also helps to make someone feel more at ease about speaking to you.

Listen with intent

But be careful not to listen with the intent to add your own story of hardship as soon as you get the gap.

Also, don’t jump in with solutions when the person is still in the process of speaking. Often it takes time for someone to formulate how they are feeling in spoken words.

Allow them to speak at their own pace and honestly. Speaking is part of the healing process. Once your friend stops speaking, be sure to acknowledge their feelings as real. Instead of trying to encourage them with generic words like: “Everything will work out in the end”, really try to give recognition to their emotions.

For example, “I can hear that you are scared about the future, and can understand that you feel that way”.

We are so used to just getting on with our own lives; that we often do not take the time to acknowledge when someone did something well and comment on it. Click HERE to create a personalized card of encouragement. Try it today – let’s all reach out to someone else.

Giving genuine praise

It is essential to let people know you notice them and the effort they make.

Recognise even the most minor efforts (at first!) to spark the motivation to let it grow into something bigger. Try to do this as soon as it happens, because it is easy to forget in today’s rushed lives, and the moment passes. Most of the time, it is also okay to not focus on a mistake. Of course, you should not condone big wrongdoings, but you can point out a mistake and move on – no need to keep on and on about it.

When dealing with a mistake, make sure the person understands the correct action and that the incorrect step is in the past. Try to minimise negative responses and reactions. Then move on. One of the best ways of encouraging someone is to give someone genuine praise in front of other people. So please don’t make a big deal about it and don’t be fake.

When done honestly, this is a powerful way to encourage another person. As you can see, you can contribute to making someone feel better about themselves or a situation with minimal effort.

For more encouragement, listen to the Radio Pulpit podcasts on iono.fm.

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