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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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SBstance: The Rewards of Encouragement

I believe in encouragements. I believe in receiving and giving encouragements that genuinely recognize an individual’s potential. I believe in words that lift spirits and empower me and others to make changes in life. Most of all, I believe in the ability to inspire and motivate people to achieve goals that lie outside their imagination.

I keep a shoebox in my closet filled with cards and letters from my patients. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or discouraged, I pick up a few letters from the shoebox and read the encouraging words to remind myself of the impact I made in someone else’s life. They never fail to make me smile because they help me remember the rewards of helping a patient recover. They also allow me to stay focused on my goals and put difficult situations into perspective.

As a therapist, I have incorporated the practice of giving encouragements to redefine boundaries and set goal posts a little further. I remember working with my first patient Jane who was feeling depressed about going home alone. She resisted treatment and refused to get out of bed every day. By giving incremental encouragements, I eventually assisted Jane out of bed. The words of encouragement reminded Jane of her progress and motivated her to keep trying despite being overwhelmed by negative emotions.

Encouragements have also allowed me to assist a confused Alzheimer’s patient overcome the fear of bathing. Elaine was initially combative due to her confusion. I would give encouragements to help her calmly accept a stranger’s assistance to sponge bathe. The words served to reassure her that she was safe as she slowly began to cooperate in the activity. They helped her overcome anxiety and fears during times of uncertainty.

I also gave encouragements to support a teenager to stand again after an above knee amputation surgery. My patient Randy tried hard at first to stand using crutches, but after repeated failures, he became discouraged to try. Simple words helped Randy summon up the courage to stand up again and eventually progress onto a prosthetic limb. They helped him overcome doubts of being able to walk again and conquer his fear of falling.

I enjoy giving encouragements freely because I am often rewarded with seeing patients try despite pain or hopelessness. By giving encouragements, I feel empowered to take action to initiate changes in my own life as well. Encouragement is not simply a one-way street. It benefits both the giver and the receiver to feel better about themselves and creates a win-win situation that results from overcoming difficult circumstances.

Encouragement is like a treasure trove filled with boundless rewards. This I will always believe.

-Sylvia P. Huang

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