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Posted: July 12, 2018 9:33 a.m.
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Affirm someone close to you today

Chaplain Corner

You have the power to transform people around you with one word. Yep, one word! 

In my previous “Chaplain’s Corner” I spoke of empathy and its power to connect. Like empathy, affirmation is great for building and connecting with others. Your job is to simply notice and then make the effort to speak the affirming word. To affirm a person, Brennan Manning writes, “Is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary.” The word affirmation comes from the Latin affirmare, originally meaning “to make steady, strengthen.” 

The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” could not be further from the truth. The reality is that words do hurt, especially from those we care about or believe care about us.  “The tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21).” Affirming another positively is a powerful gift we can give in an instant that truly strengthens the soul of the person. 

Many believe that too much affirmation will go straight to a person’s head and they will become haughty or conceited. I would argue that affirmation always touches the heart. We long to be affirmed by others. That is why those who have a healthy sense of self feel good and get tingles when affirming words are spoken over them. It builds their confidence and in return promotes good self-esteem. It drives that healthy connection we are looking for. 

To the contrary, sometimes we don’t see ourselves the way others see us and feel undeserving to hear such positive words or comments. Often times our hurts, disappointments and even undealt-with shame keep us in a protective posture. As a result, it can be difficult to hear or receive affirming words. You feel uncomfortable, a little awkward or uneasy. You may shrug it off or dismiss it. You may feel you’re not practicing humility or being patronized.  All are normal responses if the self-image has been fractured. That is why I would encourage you, if you fall into that category, to receive the best you can with open arms those affirming words. It can be a powerful and healing experience. You need to hear it. You deserve to hear it - and often. 

It is so important that we reinstate or reaffirm people when they mess up or disappoint us, especially if they didn’t have a negative motive. We can see this modeled in the New Testament of the Bible when Jesus affirms and reinstates Peter (John 21:15-19).  We all, if we’re honest, want approval from others in our lives, especially our loved one. If we’re deprived of that or never know where we truly stand with someone, part of our emotional maturity gets thwarted. We don’t get to grow up and be that confident secure adult that everyone wants to be. Affirmation helps create an environment that gives people permission to drop their defenses and becomes another conduit for connection. If one of our goals is to strengthen and make steady those around us, why would affirmation not be part of the relational formula? Make it a point and be intentional about affirming someone close to you today.  The benefits are always positive. 

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