I know we all need encouragment. We all go through ups and downs and struggles. I have had my fair share of stages in my life where I felt like I constantly needed support. I needed those around me to understand what I was thinking and feeling. We all want to be listened to and understood. But what happens during that phase in life where we feel like we have no one? What do we do when we really need to connect with someone and we really just need to be motivated, listened to, loved on, encouraged, reminded of how great we are, how much we have accomplished, how much we have over come and if we just keep pushing we will see our dreams realized? Basically, what happens when we need a pep talk and we feel like there’s no one to connect with to give it to us?
I personally have had to really dwell and dive deep on that question so many times. Because naturally I am an encouraging person I find it difficult when I don’t have people that naturually encourage me. Mostly because in my mind I compare how I would handle reaching out to someonoe to how people reach out to me. That right there is a recipe for disaster because not everyone thinks like I do! So I had to learn to start coming to terms with the fact that sometimes I’m going to feel like I’m alone. Sometimes I am going to feel like there is no one around me that is there for me. There will be times where I will feel like there is not a single person that can relate to me and I will literally feel like I am on a deserted island trying to survive. So I started asking myself “So how are you going to get off the island?”
I, first, had to start examining the situations in my life that brought me to mental and emotional places of discomfort or made me feel alone in life. One of those is the life of a military spouse. I remember having a converstaion in the car with my husband not too long ago. We were talking about the difference between life after having the girls versus life after having my son. We began to discuss the things that I struggled with and through. And he said something that shed light on the perspective that most people have if they are not one, connected to the military in any way and two, they don’t know what it’s like to consistently be the one left behind. I’m not coming down on my husband. He is really supportive and tries to be as understanding as he can. However, he really does not get it from my perspective because he does not live it. Just like I can’t fully grasp what it must be like for him to have to leave us all of the time. But what he said or referenced was the notion that even if I stayed home after the baby instead of going back to work I would not have been alone because I had a great support system.
That doesn’t sound like much but you can have a great support system as a military spouse. You can have people around you to talk to you and help you in many different ways, but if you don’t have direct relationships with other spouses going through your experience you can and will feel like you have no one. The people that I was closely connected to were a fantastic bunch. They were more than I could have ever hoped for but I still found myself feeling completely alone, isolated and not understood because the emotional turmoil you experience when your spouse deploys is not one you can explain. It’s felt and only someone who has felt it gets it.
So how does this play into learning to encourage ourselves? Well it’s no different than some of us who have to motivate and push ourselves to get out of bed every day, or go after our dreams. It takes determination. It takes drive. It takes courage to stop placing your emotional and mental state on someone else to pull you out. The people in our lives are not responsbile for our happines or ensuring that we maintain our mental well being. We are. Just like as a military spouse we can have a great support system but still feel alone-as a person we can have great friends, we can have a great support system and still feel like there is no one that truly gets us or gets where we are in the moment.
This is why it’s important to learn how to encourage ourselves in times like this. We have to make the decision to remind ourslves that it’s ok to be sad, frustrated, confused, hurt, and alone. Yes alone. Sometimes we need to be alone. There’s so much growth that can come from being alone. It teaches us to rely less on people and more on God. It teaches us to listen to more of what He is saying and less of what we think we need to hear. It teaches us that our strength lies in God and that through Him we can get up and push through this next week, this next day, or this next hour. In the periods of time that I felt alone I learned how to tell myself repeatedly that I could do it. That I could make it another day. I learned to push myself past my feelings, even in moments when I thought I was drowining.
Through these experiences I learned to stand alone and not consistently need the words or encouragment of someone else to get me through that moment. The more I practice it the better I become. The better I become the stronger I feel. The stronger I feel the more confident I become. The more confident I become the clearer I can hear those encouraging words that I need to hear in my head and in my heart from God. I learn to start blocking the negativity out and start reaching for my inner strength that allows me to say things to myself like “You’re great. You’re smart. You’re loved, You can do this. You can handle this. You can make it one more day. You won’t always feel like this.”
I believe it’s so important for everyone to not only learn how to do this but consistently put it into practice.
A few things that have helped me to be more consistent in this area are:
- Reading the Bible, devotionals or motivational books daily.
- Writing in a journal.
- Writing small notes to myself.
- Listening to encouraging music.
- Listening or watching motivational speakers or sermons.
Support systems are great. Having people in our lives that are positive and encouraging can help us become better, more well rounded individuals. We need people in our lives for several reasons but that does not negate from the fact that sometimes people will fail us, intentionally or unintentionally. We cannot always expect or rely on those in our lives to pull us out of our dark places. That’s what God is for. And that’s why He wants to build a relationship with us so that when we need to stand alone (with His support), we can.