The Difference Between “Don’t Give Up!” and “Hang in There!”
Encouragement literally means to give courage. When we are trying to encourage someone, we are much more effective if we use powerful, power-filled, encouraging language, if we speak about what we want to happen rather than what we don’t want to happen. Focusing on what we don’t want, or worse, fear. can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of exactly what we don’t want. For example, I used to play on a dart team with a guy would come up every time I was about to throw, shake my shoulders and say, “Don’t be nervous! Don’t be nervous!”. The combination of the shaking and the reminder that I was in a situation where I could feel nervous (not to mention the infusion of his obvious nervousness) always made me feel more nervous. It made me breathe short and shallow and tighten up so my shoulders weren’t loose and my moves were constricted. It made me feel off balance and inadequate and worried. I know now that I would have done much better if he had said, “Breathe deep, be calm and stick it! You can do it.” These words are much more empowering. These are the words of someone who has faith in you, someone who thinks you’re capable. These words give you courage.
I hear wonderful, well-meaning people telling new hoopers, “Don’t give up, don’t give up…” and I wish so much I could coach them a little bit. There is a huge difference between saying, “It’s only a matter of time. You will get it. Anything we persist in doing, we get better at. Even the best painter was an amateur at first. And there are lessons in every time the hoop drops too so choose to frame these drops as learning opportunities and observe them for their inherent lessons. You can do it. Hang in there. Keep trying and you will get it. You are getting better with every single turn of the hoop.”
These words are just as true, more true even, and they’re much more encouraging and empowering.