Thursday, September 13, 2012


The finest gift you can give anyone is encouragement. Yet, almost no one gets
the encouragement they need to grow to their full potential. If everyone
received the encouragement they need to grow, the genius in most everyone
would blossom and the world would produce abundance beyond the
wildest dreams. We would have more than one Einstein, Edison, Schweitzer,
Mother Theresa, Dr. Salk and other great minds in a century.

Sidney Madwed

Tomorrow evening several of our clients will be honored at our annual graduation ceremony.  They've worked hard to get where they are, and I am so proud of all of them. This year I will have 8 success stories take the podium.  That is a record number and it just goes to show you that empathy and encouragement work so much better than criticism and attempts at control.  

I'm not trying to insinuate that I am a better counselor than my co-workers.  What I am saying is that some ways work better than others and building up someone's self-esteem seems to work a lot better than breaking someone down. They found that out in the old days when the therapeutic communities would break somebody down in order to rebuild them. They failed. We're human beings. We weren't made to be broken down. In my own case, I know that I thrive whenever someone shows me that they appreciate me and encourages me to keep up the good work. Whenever I hear encouragement like that, I want to do better and better.  I think we all do. 

I think sometimes we become so focused on the faults of others that we forget to acknowledge all that they have accomplished. One of my graduates is an 'A' student in school.  She is studying to become a medical technician.  Another of my graduates is working a stipend job through his housing program.  This is a big deal for him for he has never held a job before.  Another graduate just moved into their own room in supportive housing. This is a biggie for her. She's lived on the streets for most of her adult life.  And another graduate has remained clean and sober for a year. With his mental health issues, he will probably never return to work. Some would say he has accomplished nothing because he hasn't moved on with his life. I say he has accomplished a 'miracle' after 35 years of drug use. 

So, the next time you find yourself about to criticize someone, take a step back and look for the little things that most of us take for granted and offer words of praise for those ordinary accomplishments most of us pay no attention to. Look for the little things that we usually take for granted. In my case, I have never had to take medication.  Now, I have blood pressure medications that 'must' be taken every morning.  For me,just remembering to take this every morning is an accomplishment.  Heck, I can't tell you how many times I bought vitamins all 'gung ho' that I was going to take them, and then, after a few days, never bother to look at them again.  So, yes, taking my medications ever day is a biggie. For those in the throes of depression, just climbing out of bed in the morning is an accomplishment. 

My co-worker has a son who was failing at school. Not that he wanted to.  He tried but his difficulties were due to a learning disorder. He just couldn't keep up with his peers, but he doesn't give up. He  continues to hard and eventually gets a passing grade. His mom says, "Now you can work towards an "A".  He feels so beaten down that he goes to school the next day and quits.  Instead of being encouraged, he felt like he was being pushed to do something he knew he couldn't accomplish, so rather than fail, he drops out.

Let’s face it, everyone needs encouragement sometimes. Simple and thoughtful words of encouragement to your friends or family members can go a long way, more than you probably realize. The following poem is one of hope and encouragement. It speaks of how we should look at each and every day is a new beginning.  It is one of my favorites.

Begin Again 

Every day is a fresh beginning,
Every day is the world made new;
You who are weary of sorrow and sinning,
Here is a beautiful hope for you-
A hope for me and a hope for you.

All the past things are past and over,
The tasks are done and the tears are shed;
Yesterday’s errors let yesterday cover;
Yesterday’s wounds, which smarted and bled,
Are healed with the healing which night has shed.

Yesterday now is a part of forever,
Bound up in a sheaf, which God holds tight;
With glad days, and sad days and bad days which never
Shall visit us more with their bloom and their blight,
Their fullness of sunshine or sorrowful night.
Let them go, since we cannot relieve them,
Cannot undo and cannot atone;
God in His mercy, receive, forgive them;
Only the new days are our own,
Today is ours, and today alone.

Here are the skies all burnished brightly,
Here is the spent earth all reborn,
Here are the tired limbs springing lightly
To face the sun and to share the morn,
In the chrism of dew and the cool of dawn.

Every day is a fresh beginning;
Listen, my soul, to the glad refrain,
And, spite of old sorrow and older sinning,
And puzzles forecasted and possible pain
Take heart with the day, and begin again.

by Susan Coolidge


  1. Oh yes! Humans thrive on ENCOURAGEMENT! How come we forget this, so easily, in daily life? -sigh-

    The followeing isn't quite the same but.... Now that I am "Olden," when I see someone who looks so nice, in some way... I don't just think it. I tell them! I say something like; "I love the color of your hair!" (Which is probably a lovely shade of gray) Or when I see a Mommy with her little girl, in whose hair she has bothered to put a bow... I say to Mommy; "I just love to see little girls, in bows."

    Such people look surprised, at first. Then the compliment *registers* with them. And they smile. And I smile, and continue on my way. :-)


  2. You're absolutely right, Mary! What this world needs is more encouragement and less judgment! Congrats to your clients who have achieved so much!

  3. I do the same sort of thing, when I see people in the military. I extend my hand to shake their hand, and say: "I want to thank you, for your service." And go on my way...

    Oh I know, one can't be doing things like this, in a big city. Someone would "take it the wrong way," or something. But in my small and quite safe city, I can. :-)


  4. This is a beautiful post. Congratulations on your accomplishments with your clients! I think it is wonderful that you see how important it is to build people up. Keep up the great work!

  5. great post..i had a teacher in my last grade after we moved from our hometown...she seen something in me i never knew that was there. Intelligence!! and i felt for the first time that i wasn't stupid.. Spelling and grammar was a problem for me my whole life and i always felt dump because i couldn't grasp it. She realize my strong points though and encouraged them..i excelled in math and the sciences, history etc. and graduated with very high marks (except for German grammar and English) . Still can't spell in both languages, but i'm pretty good what the verbal is concerned and i learned you don't have to be good at everything :)

  6. You must be so proud of your clients and rightly so. Each one of us is like a plant who has to thrive not just survive on good attention and growth. I used to be a counselor so I know what hard and loving work goes into each client so that they can succeed even in the small ways. Good for you in helping them to be just a little bit brighter which benefits us all.

  7. Your blog is always very encouraging.

  8. Hope and encouragement are what keep most of us going when times are tough. So, I thank you for this hopeful, encouraging post Mary.

    hugs and blessings