Recently, I met a person who seemed to take quite a keen interest in words and their meaning. It was actually during a course I had been running over the past few days and, during that time, I noticed how he would often make quite insightful comments about words.
During one particular conversation with him, he pointed out to me the literal meaning of the word ‘encourage’ which, he told me, means to facilitate the process of finding courage. The result of encouragement, he said, should be courage. If a person did not end up with more courage, then they simply had not been encouraged. To discourage, he also pointed out, is the opposite; and therefore, the result of discouragement is timidity.
In English, the prefix ‘en’, when used with a noun, is used to express entry into the specified state which, in this case, is courage. Thus to encourage is indeed to provide or facilitate courage. It is quite an interesting little analysis and I was especially interested because I have considered my calling to be in the direction of providing encouragement to others.
So the question of how we can encourage other people when they need it translates into helping them to find the courage they need in the situation they are facing. One of the main methods I have personally used is simply to believe in the person facing the difficulty. Many people are told far too frequently by others that they will not succeed with some undertaking.
What we often need, in difficult circumstances, is for someone to tell us that we will succeed, to tell us that we can do it – whatever the task and whatever the perceived difficulties. By simply doing this, you can help another person to find the courage they need. The world already has far too many ‘discouragers’- perhaps you have met a few along the way – and certainly needs a few more ‘encouragers’.
So the next time you come across someone in difficult circumstances and in need of encouragement, will you rise to the challenge? Will you tell that person that you believe in them? You might be amazed at the results of telling someone that they ‘can’ do something. Just you believing in them can make a big difference.