Words of Encouragement and Emotional Support

I was just talking to a friend of mine and she told me a story. When her husband was in hospice, his mother would talk to him on the phone but would never tell him she loved him. In fact, in the 60 years he had been on the planet, she had never told him. Not even once.

One day after one of those phone calls, which the son ended by saying, “I love you, Mom”, and the mother ended by saying “Bye”, my friend went barging into her mother-in-law’s room and said, “What is WRONG with you? Why can’t you tell your own son that you love him?”

She replied, “He knows I love him.”

“No, Mom, actually, he doesn’t. He’s your only child and he’s dying. You should be rocking him in your arms. You should be telling him that you love him. You should be telling him you are proud of him. The fact that you aren’t doing so just shows what a cruel and heartless old shrew you are.”

The woman didn’t say a word. She stayed in her room the rest of the evening and then went to sleep. The next day she woke up and called her son and told him she loved him. And she did so every day for the next several weeks until he finally died. And it meant everything to him. It’s all he had ever wanted from her.

This is not an isolated incident. There are a lot of people out there who think that their actions are enough, that they don’t have to reinforce them with words. Yes, that man’s mother had fed him and clothed him and sent him off to school and made him chicken soup when he had a cold. Yes, those are forms of love. She never neglected his needs and she wasn’t physically abusive toward him, and he turned out to be a good person. Maybe that should be enough.

But why is it so hard to add just one more simple thing to the mix, the one thing that costs not one penny, and takes no physical effort at all? Words of encouragement. Words of support. Confirmation of love.

Here are some words that are worth more than gold, that I, personally, have longed to hear on more than one occasion:

  • I admire you.
  • I have faith in you. Don’t give up.
  • I’m proud of the life that you live.
  • I love you so much.
  • You are my favorite person on earth.
  • You have always been there for me. Thank you.
  • I want to be just like you when I grow up.
  • You are doing a good job.
  • I’m so glad you are a part of my life.
  • Thank you for all you’ve done. I know it hasn’t been easy.
  • I’m a better person for having known you.
  • I think of you often, and I smile.
  • I appreciate all that you do.
  • You can do it.
  • I’m proud to be seen with you.
  • I like your style.
  • You are a good person.
  • I always look forward to seeing you.
  • You mean the world to me.
  • You make a difference in my life.
  • Thank you for everything you’ve taught me. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

If you just chose one of these phrases a day and said it to someone who is a part of your life, whether it be a friend, a relative, a neighbor or a coworker, it would take less than 3 seconds of your time, but you would see a positive change in your relationships.

So the next time you feel the urge to tease someone or take them for granted, try this instead. The next time you feel the urge to close yourself off or withhold affection, try this instead. The next time you THINK something positive but don’t have the courage to share it, try this instead. The next time you say something nice ABOUT someone but not TO them, try this instead. Think of it as an experiment if you must. It might feel awkward at first, and it may make you feel vulnerable, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life, and you’ll be amazed at the positive feedback you’ll receive.

You can do it. I have faith in you.


[Image credit: booooooom.com]

“I Love You” Too Much

The general wisdom is that you can never tell someone you love them too many times. And I subscribed to that philosophy for years until I got a boyfriend who also bought into it–in the extreme. Dude must have told me he loved me 95 times a day, to the point it became irritating. Obnoxious. Kind of stalker-ish and desperate, if you want to know the truth. I used to tell him that, while I appreciated the sentiment, when I heard it with such (annoying) frequency, it lost its specialness. In one ear and out the other, apparently. It became like eating carrot cake, which I normally enjoy, but this was about 4 slices an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 freakin’ days a week.

It got to the point where I’d hear “I lo…” and I’d think, “whatever.” Then one day, after a series of events that made me lose all respect for him, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe the reason I didn’t like to hear him say that he loved me was that deep down I didn’t love him. What’s more, I realized he didn’t know what love was. He thought it was all rooms full of roses and women who wear lace and big picture hats covered in flowers, and homemade valentines delivered with a soundtrack of violins. He didn’t love me, because he didn’t know how. And that was the beginning of the end.

Now when I think of him, I kind of feel sorry for the guy. I hope he finds someone who is so love starved that she is willing to be force fed and will beg for more, kind of like one of those geese with a foie gras destiny.

Meanwhile, my philosophy has changed. Now I think that you can never make someone feel too loved. But don’t always rely on words. Take action, even when things aren’t pretty. Because talk is cheap.