Not too long ago, I learned firsthand there is an art to encouragement.
And I discovered something slightly disturbing about myself. In order to feel motivated, I need to expect the future to be worse than what it will likely be.
When Jason and I took our trip to Prince Edward Island this summer, one of our activities was a bike ride through the PEI National Park. We rented bikes at the Kindred Spirits Inn, our home for a few days, and I took off with high hopes.
Now, let me explain something. Imagination can be a dangerous thing. I had read the Anne books and watched the movies. My idea of a bike ride on PEI was a leisurely jaunt through a quaint little town. First of all, Anne lived in Avonlea and L.M. Montgomery made up that town. Although Green Gables exists in the real world, the sweet little village where Anne often visited the post office does not.
Anne never looked like she had even broken a sweat when anyone encountered her on her bike. Compare that to the near raging lunatic I became grunting and groaning trying to make it up the hills along our seaside route. I thought my lungs were going to burst. I was determined to make it to our destination of a restaurant at the end of the first half of our journey.
The words Jason used to encourage me are debatable. His strategy on the way there was to tell me it wasn’t that much further. I swear he said, “Only one more hill,” approximately four times, but he insists that wasn’t the case. The trip felt neverending. He also kept trying to have a conversation with me, with hopes of distracting me, but it only served to aggravate me more. Bless him.
Of course, the other thing you have to understand is that my husband once did a half Ironman. He hadn’t biked a lot before we went on the trip, but his physical ability FAR exceeds mine. His idea of “not so bad” is a bit skewed compared to mine.
Jason is brilliant, though. On the way back, he figured out a better strategy. He stopped talking to me, first of all. Secondly, I have no concept of distance, so he made me believe we had way further to go than what we did. At one point along the journey he asked me how far I thought we had gone. “Possibly halfway?” he inquired. I agreed.
The truth was, we were nearly back to where we needed to turn to get to the main highway. Hallelujah! Angels were singing in my mind when we got to the intersection.
Why am I like that? I don’t know, but the second method he used worked way better for me.
Normally, when I get in a pool I do it slowly. I hate cold water. When we got back to our inn, I went straight to the pool, took off my outer clothing to reveal my swimsuit and jumped in that glorious water. And some time in the hot tub eased my aching muscles. I felt like I had accomplished something extraordinary, yet my experience was sadly disappointing compared to the bike ride down red dirt roads I had envisioned with birds chirping and music playing. However, beauty remains.
How does all of this pertain to you? If you have a spouse, child, or other person in your life you are having a hard time motivating, maybe you aren’t speaking the right language. Also, conflict can often happen as a result of unrealized expectations. If you find yourself getting angry over something, evaluate your expectations. Maybe they need to change. Or maybe like me, your attitude does. Just looking at these beautiful pictures makes me kick myself for being a bear at the time. Memories definitely make the heart grow fonder!
The bike ride didn’t turn out as I envisioned, but I’m still glad I did it. We can always learn more about ourselves. And thanks to my amazing husband for his patience with a difficult wife. I made a wise choice with that guy!