We each develop a self concept and hopefully a positive self image. One way these important aspects of our personalities develop is through affirmation. We have all affirmed a small child by praising the things they do. These affirmations have the effect of reinforcing the behavior through the reward of praise and attention. It is the fortunate child who is surrounded by people who affirm them at every opportunity.
Sadly, there are some children who grow up without affirmations in some or all of the areas of their lives. It might be something as simple as living far away from significant people who are committed to affirming the young person. In some cases separation through such things as illness, death or adults with overwhelming work or activity deprives the child of needed affirmations.
At some point in life peer groups become an important source of needed affirmations. Here, too, the right individuals and groups can provide the necessary affirmations to lead to development of a well-rounded personality and the practice of skills that lead to a successful, happy life. Since the later childhood and adolescent years are a time for trying new things, affirmation becomes a very important aspect of character development.
Affirmations really require a few simple things. We have to focus on another person, to the exclusion of yourself and your needs. It requires us to listen in depth to another person, to understand what they really feel good about in their lives and then to use language that is encouraging and supportive of them.
Healthy relationships, both personal and professional, tend to be based on this kind of behavior. Affirmations do require a little understanding of the things that make up the life of another person, but this is mostly information they will gladly give us if we only ask and show a little interest in their lives.
As we move forward, it might be useful to look at our own lives to see where and from whom we receive and have received affirmation over our lives. What effect has that had on who we have become? Is there anyone we wish had affirmed us who did not, and how did that affect our lives?
Who are the people in our lives we have affirmed or are currently affirming? As we move forward, I encourage you to seek out opportunities where you can affirm someone else. That helps make life a really enjoyable and productive journey. As a final thought, who not thank someone who has affirmed you. You might make their day!If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.
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