Encouragement, hope, and a safe space

Have you ever had one of those times when you’ve struggled and struggled and struggled to solve some problem, and when the answer finally appears, it’s so obvious that you can’t believe you didn’t see it before?

Yeah, me too. I had one of those moments yesterday. I’m thrilled to have an answer, but my initial reaction was still to say, “Well, DUH!”

You see, I’ve been struggling for a couple of years now to figure out what exactly it is that I want to do with my life. I have all of these disparate interests—writing, yoga, working with people one-on-one in some kind of coaching/spiritual direction/pastoral care/counseling role, perhaps some public teaching or speaking—but I haven’t been able to find the thread that tied all of these things together to form a cohesive whole. I knew without a doubt that this thread existed. I could feel it, but I couldn’t name it.

So as I was working on this question again yesterday within the larger context of “how do explain who I am to strangers?”, I decided to spend some time with my oracle cards to see what answers might arise that way. I got only one card from one deck in answer, and it described someone who helps people make it through the storms in life and helps them see the rainbows on the other side of the storm. It was really all about offering encouragement, hope, and creating a safe space for people to work through storms. And it clicked. This has always been the thing I couldn’t not do.

When I see someone I know going through one of life’s storms, I can’t not offer encouragement. It pains me if I can’t help create a safe space for them to go deep within to find their own answers. I’m always aiming to shine a ray of hope into whatever painful situation I can.

In fact, the urge to offer encouragement is so strong that I will often find myself doing it even when I know the other person doesn’t appreciate it. I have one friend who often becomes thoroughly irritated by my efforts to offer encouragement. I’ve known her a long time, and I know she doesn’t want to hear it, yet the words come tumbling out of my mouth anyway faster than I can catch them most of the time.

The writing I love to do is anything that uses my story as a means of offering hope and encouragement to someone else who might be facing similar challenges so they know they are not alone. I love teaching yoga to beginners because it gives me so many chances to offer encouragement as they discover that they can do more than they thought they could. It allows me to create a safe space for people to learn about their bodies and learn to quiet their minds enough to deepen their inner awareness.

It’s also the reason that I struggle with being a good coach. As a coach, the focus is always on the client and their experience of the situation. While I can ask questions to see whether they can find a way to encourage themselves, offering encouragement directly makes it about what I see in them and not about their own experience, and biting my tongue to keep this to myself is downright painful. (And frankly, I don’t always manage to bite my tongue in time either, which frustrates the daylights out of me.)

As far back as I can remember, the most rewarding times in my life have been those when I’ve had the opportunity to walk alongside someone going through a difficult time to offer them that safe space to process and to provide encouragement and hope. It’s one of the most consistent themes in my life.

Duh! How could it have taken me this long to realize that this was the theme, the common thread that tied everything else together? I’ve heard it said that we are most often the last person to recognize our own gifts because we take them for granted. Perhaps this is what is also at play here. I couldn’t see that this is my passion or my purpose because I was too close to recognize it. It might also be the fact that while it has been helpful to other people on many occasions, it’s also gotten me in trouble plenty of times with people who either didn’t want my encouragement or who tried to take advantage of it. So I clearly have more to learn about the best ways to express this calling of mine to others in ways that are ultimately more helpful (and learn to keep my mouth shut when it isn’t wanted).

But this still feels like an amazing start. I worked with my coach today to explore this whole idea further as a step toward determining the best ways to live out this calling in the world. She was a bit surprised to hear that this was such a new insight for me too because she said this is what I talk about all the time. I suppose I may be the last one to know! (Which strikes me as terribly amusing in an ironic quite of way.)

I’m feeling profoundly grateful to have this first taste of direction. I am so excited to have a starting point for building this life of purpose that I long for. And I’m still shaking my head in wonder at the obviousness of it all. Isn’t life funny that way?

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

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2 thoughts on “Encouragement, hope, and a safe space

  1. Pingback: Questioning encouragement | Journey Through the Chrysalis

  2. Pingback: Letting go of my encouragement story | Journey Through the Chrysalis

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