I like to make observations about people in my life (that I may or may not know very well) and try to deduce the internal motivations behind their actions. From there I make broad sweeping generalizations about *all* people *everywhere* and try to find the lessons I can glean from there. Is it good to make these kind of assumptions about people? I don’t know, but I do find it helps me narrow in on the type of person I want to be, and the kind I don’t want to be.
So recently I realized, I want to be the cheerleader.
Here’s my broad sweeping generalization: I figure people fall in one of two camps when it comes to being an influence in another person’s life. The first group are the risk analyzers. When a friend/child/spouse comes to them and shares a new idea they have, or is getting ready to embark on a new phase of life the risk analyzer is… cautious. They want to make sure the person is doing the right thing and has thought this thing through. “Have you thought about this?” they ask. “But what if this happens?” they warn. Out of their love for the person they turn the idea around and around until they’ve found every flaw and pointed it out. All these flaws could bring about pain, and they want to help their friend avoid that.
But then there are the cheerleaders. When a friend/child/spouse comes to them and shares a new idea they have, or a new thing they are trying, the cheerleader is… excited! They see the potential for growth and happiness in this new idea. They see how this new thing makes their friend come alive. Out of their love for the person they listen and encourage while their friend turns the idea around and around and finds every gleaming possibility. They let their friend show them how beautiful this new thing could be.
Both groups care. Both groups want the best for their friend. But I think one group is going about it in the wrong way. Because for every new thing in life that a person might get excited about, there is also a healthy dose of fear. People don’t really need the risk analyzers to find all the things to worry about. Most people are pretty good at worrying on their own. But a whole lot of people need encouragement, validation, and support. None of the great things in life come without some measure of risk.
So in my relationships, I hope I am the cheerleader. I hope as my son grows I can celebrate the new things with him and feel joyful as I watch him grow. I hope when my husband finds a new venture to pursue I can trust his judgement and be confident in him even when he is not. I hope when a friend tells me about something she’s hoping to do in her life, I can provide a safe and encouraging space for her to share her excitement.
I want to be the cheerleader.