The importance of encouragement.

I feel like sometimes I’m stuck in this belief that I have to be depressed each day just because I have depression. And yes, I am depressed some days and I just can’t get out of it. But today, I am not sad. I am not having an off day at all, in fact, in my own way – I’m having a good day.

And that minor victory, that is something I know I can be proud of.

It’s always so much easier for me to do things, and be proud of them, when I’m given encouragement.

With my eating disorder, I eat things and think to myself, “damn, Sam would be so proud of me right now.” And even just that mental encouragement from myself will help me push through the things that are hard for me to do.

There is something so powerful about the words “I am proud of you.”

I don’t think those words can ever, ever, ever be said enough. There is always something to be proud of someone for. Here’s a few just off the top of my head:

  1. Going to school. College is not a requirement. I’m proud of you for going to class anyway.
  2. Having an honest discussion with someone. That’s hard. I’m proud of you for doing that.
  3. Moving. Every single thing about moving too… making new friends, starting a new job, exploring and living in a new town, maintaining normalcy – I’m proud of you.
  4. Taking care of your dog or cat or rabbit or hamster or fish. YOU are the reason that creature is alive. I’m proud of you for that.
  5. Getting all the chores done today. That isn’t fun and it isn’t always easy, so I’m proud of you.

Sometimes, small things are worth being proud of someone for. For me, getting out of bed is hard sometimes. Forcing myself to take a shower and get dressed and go about my day, it’s hard. Sometimes just pretending to be normal is the hardest thing I do that entire day.

I spent a lot of my childhood growing up without words of encouragement. While I heard the occasional “I’m proud of you,” “I love you,” “That was awesome,” most of the time, I did not. And I believe this is unfortunately true for a lot of kids and adults today.

I truly believe that children are largely a byproduct of how they are raised. When you aren’t disciplined as a child, you don’t necessarily discipline yourself either. Likewise, when you aren’t told growing up that you’re special, how as an adult do you believe that you are?

I’m not advocating children be given everything they want, because that’s not what we need. But self love and self worth are things that parents need to teach their children. It is ok – no, it is important – to love yourself. It is important to know that you are loved.

I recently saw a post on my Facebook wall with over 60 ways of encouraging/praising your child. I believe I was told maybe 5 or 10 of those phrases growing up.

As an adult, I struggle every single day with my self worth. Some days I truly hate myself. On my good days like today, I simply don’t like myself. Never once have I looked in a mirror and thought to myself, “Man, I am a stunner.” I don’t believe that is a coincidence.

On this list, there was one that really stood out to me a lot: “I could never stop loving you.”

As a child who was not really told any positives or encouraged in any way to be who I was, I grew up becoming who my father wanted me to be. While I had my own quirks, it wasn’t until I grew up and finally left the house that I learned about the things I actually cared about. I am a different person now than I was yesterday, and leaps and bounds different than I was years ago. I think most parents would love their child no matter who they choose to become. But sometimes life isn’t always fair, and this is why my dad no longer loves me. Or maybe he still does, but I don’t receive that love anymore.

I was not encouraged to be myself or to love myself. When I found out who I truly was (and as I continue to do so throughout my life’s journey), it lost me my father.

This is something that should never, ever happen. And it starts with praise and encouragement at a young age. It starts with parents telling their children that being who you want to be is OK.

I am not my father, and while we may have similar interests and mannerisms, I am Alaina. And finding Alaina is more important in my life right now than anything else.

Because at the end of the day, I am the only one that knows what it’s like to be me – and if you aren’t proud of me or want to be in my life, that’s ok and that’s your choice… but I don’t get the choice to walk away from myself so the only thing I can do is try to at least like myself a little bit.

And I think I’ll say it, because I think I deserve to hear it: I’m proud of myself so far.



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