This is my seventh year of participation in the A to Z Challenge. My intent this year is to share a little bit about me each day… the good, the bad, and the ugly… so you can get to know “the woman behind the words” a little better!
For much of my adult life I was an enabler, someone who encouraged and supported the negative and often self-destructive behavior of people around me, even when I knew what they were doing wasn’t right, not good for them and not good for me to be a part of. I have a caretaker personality, and if these poor misguided souls needed someone to understand and put up with their behavior, they found a friend in me. I think back on some of those relationships and wonder why I allowed myself to be taken advantage of like that. Obviously it stems from low self-esteem and the belief that I needed to hang on to relationships at any cost, no matter what that required of me, all the while convincing myself that I was helping them with my emotional and sometimes financial support.
As an example, I financially supported a spouse that couldn’t hold a job due to drug issues and irresponsibility, yet when he did have a job, any extra money he made was spent by him on him with no thought to what I had sacrificed in the interim. I helped another friend, an alcoholic who chose to feed his addiction rather than embrace sobriety, hold onto his job long after I should have stopped. I have also enabled people’s bad treatment of me by allowing it, and accepting excuses for it.
I didn’t know what enabling was back then; I didn’t realize that I was actually hindering, rather than helping, their spiritual evolution. There are consequences to our choices, and if we never have to face them we don’t learn to choose more wisely.
I have always been an encourager… cheering for others to succeed, wanting us all to win at life. Once I figured out the difference between enabling and encouraging I gave up the former and embraced the latter in a more positive light. I want to reach out, encourage, uplift. I want to help others to find their path (not mine), and find hope and meaning in their lives.
I believe that we are each endowed with gifts from our Creator, things that we are good at, things He wants us to be and do… our purpose in life, our reason for being here. I learned a long time ago that my purpose is to be an encourager… to offer a smile, a hug, a kind word, a bit of hope on a dark day. When I am in this mode I feel fulfilled and happy. This is when I am at my best.
I have to admit that I don’t always succeed at encouraging. Sometimes I miss an opportunity or fail to see that someone is struggling. Sometimes I get caught up in my own issues and emotional scars, and say or do the wrong thing. Sometimes I get defensive when no harm was intended. I am human, and so very far from perfect, but on the days when I am able to connect with someone else and help make their day just a little bit better, or encourage them to take the next step on their journey, or cheer for them when they do , I know that I am doing what I was meant to do, and it feels good!
I think we all have within us the power to be encouragers, as the Ram Dass quote on my sidebar says “We’re all just walking each other home.” We should do that with love!
Can you think of a time in your life when someone’s encouragement made a difference?
Links to my previous 2018 A-Z Posts: