I'm not the easiest person to encourage. I'll admit it. Sometimes it probably has a lot to do with setting the bar rather too high for myself. I've always felt a bit of an underachiever to be honest, someone who's never quite fulfilled their potential. There have been the odd glimpses of what might be, but never a prolonged period of recognisable success. At least not form where I stand.
So I have to work quite hard at taking encouragement. I have to hold back the desire the say, "Yes, but..." all the time, qualifying the encouragement with a list of things that could have been better or things that didn't really work. And of course the downside to struggling with receiving positive comments is that you tend to take criticism hard too.
Anyway, psychology apart, it's been a pretty good weekend for encouragement. For those theologically minded, and who share a faith based perspective, I need to tell you that on Friday I wrote a simple prayer in my journal that closed with a simple request: Lord, send a little encouragement my way. To be honest I promptly forgot all about it until I sat down to write in my journal this morning after a hectic weekend of training and a little bit of coaching. It was as I sat, journal open in front of me, that I read and remembered the prayer. So how was the weekend?
Well, rather good, as I said. It started well on Friday with a really positive tennis lesson with my coach, and then went well through Saturday and Sunday on my coaching course, culminating in a very positive assessment of my coaching lesson on the Sunday afternoon. A quick check of the 'phone and I've picked up a bit of coaching, covering for someone for a couple of weeks while they are away and the day ended with an hour or so of coaching a mother and son. And I get paid to do it!
Now lots of faith oriented friends will respond to this from a faith perspective and that's okay. I do too. But there's also a lesson about the simplicity of taking hold of encouragement and not seeing the negatives all the time. I really do struggle to do that. Ask Anne, she'll tell how hard it to encourage me! But I'm trying.
This weekend has been great because as a Christian I can see a direct answer to a simple prayer. But faith is far from simplistic, and I'm not about to reduce my faith to some slot-machine game of pray, believe, receive as if you're trying to get three cherries in a row.
Even if you don't consider yourself a person of faith, you can reflect on how you deal with the good and the bad that comes your way. Do you let the negative weigh you down all the time, or do you look for the positives?
I'll have bad days, bad weeks even. After all I'm in a tournament again soon! But today, I'm just going to remember the encouragement and feed on that for a while.