When is the last time you offered affirming, positive words to someone else? How many times during the day do we take the time to notice others? And then reflect back what we have seen?
Three Kinds of Affirmation
1. Affirm being over doing. To me, the most impactful affirmations I both give and receive are those who recognize "who" a person is more than "what" they have done. What people do for us is useful, but who they are acknowledges the value of their very existence. Try out some of these phrases when you want to acknowledge others:
"I so enjoy watching you with your children. Your playfulness is a delight."
"When I see you so focused as you organize the event, I feel like I am seeing your core strengths in action. It inspires me."
"Your creativity really shone brightly in our last meeting. Thank you for being willing to share that gift."
2. Affirm effort over results. Carol Dweck is the researcher who has best articulated how important it is to affirm children for their efforts and perseverance through difficulty. But all of us benefit when others acknowledge us for trying, even if our efforts do not result in everything we hope. Affirming effort encourages us to try, try again until we succeed. It develops a "growth mindset" that equips us to navigate effectively through life challenges.
3. Affirm character over all. The development of character is perhaps life's highest achievement. Drawing attention to the character of another person affirms them at a transcendent "soul level." We so rarely are affirmed for character, we hardly know what to do when it happens. It takes the breath away. It signifies that another person has been watching the true self below all of our appearances and sees the progress we are making at reaching our full potential as the sons and daughters of God. What a gift.
Think back on an affirmation you received from someone which made a difference in your life. What was it about the affirmation that made it so powerful?
How intentional are you each day about being a conduit of blessing to others? How might you use affirmations as a way to bless those around you?
In what type of environment do you live and work each day? Is it toxic or positive or some of both? What are you called to do to impact your environment? What is your role in creating space in which all can thrive?