Hardship does not discriminate; it doesn’t care how old you are, how healthy and active you are, how long you’ve been with the same company, or how much money you’ve saved for retirement. Hardship comes in the form of accidents, physical ailments, disease, loss of relationships, and financial distress. Often we feel like we just can’t get ahead and for every step forward we take two steps back. If it’s not you that is currently experiencing a hardship, you probably know someone who is. It is during these times that we have the opportunity to lift someone’s spirit and maybe even help them see things in a more positive light, and one of the best ways to do that is with a Soul Letter.
Writing a Soul Letter for someone who is experiencing hardship can sometimes be difficult. It’s not easy to put a positive spin on getting fired from a job or going through a divorce, but it is the perfect opportunity to affirm the person’s potential.
Affirming potential is very different than praising someone for what they have done. When people are experiencing hardship in their lives it’s not overly helpful to point out their past accomplishments, instead you need to focus on the person in this moment and what qualities they have that will help them succeed right now, as well as in the future.
Did you ever have a teacher or mentor that affirmed your potential? Perhaps a boss or mentor at work told you that you have natural leadership skills, or an english teacher that expressed that you had a talent for telling a story and capturing your audience. These are examples of affirming someone’s potential.
Is there someone in your life who is struggling or experiencing some kind of hardship? If you take the time to think about that person’s qualities and characteristics, with just a few simple words of encouragement and affirmation, you have the ability to change their outlook and motivate them to confidently move forward and explore new ideas.
Below I’ve listed some suggestions on what NOT to include in your Soul Letter and some suggestions to help get you thinking about how you can affirm a loved one’s potential.
What NOT to say when affirming potential!
- A cliche such as “you just need to get back on the horse” comes across as unoriginal and insincere. Save your mother’s favourite sayings for a quick pep talk, not a letter that affirms someone’s potential.
- Don’t make generalized comments such as” I know you’ll get through this.” The person who is experiencing hardship needs specific affirmations such as “I’ve always admired how creative you are and I can’t wait to see how you turn this challenge into a new opportunity!”
- Don’t comment on what you think went wrong or point out their culpability in the matter. It’s not your responsibility to lay blame, it’s your job to affirm their potential.
Tips for affirming potential
- If your letter is for a youth or young adult that doesn’t have a lot of experience to draw on, talk instead about the qualities that make them unique and special such as their honesty, determination, creativity, communication or leadership skills, a strong intuition, sense of humour, or their ability to use initiative and common sense,
- Does the person have certain virtues that you admire such as compassion and authenticity? For a list of virtues you can search online or use the helpful list of virtues in the Soul Letters Workbook available here.
- Can you think of a time when you admired how the person handled a difficult situation in the past? What qualities do they have that allowed them to succeed during that hardship.
- Does the person respect and admire someone else and can you think of any qualities that they have in common with that person?
- Establish sincerity by using specific examples that you recall. Be honest and don’t embellish the details. If the person senses that you are exaggerating they won’t accept your words and they definitely won’t feel motivated and inspired.
Remember, everyone experiences hardship and we all need encouragement when trying to overcome hardship. If you are still having difficulty affirming someone’s potential check out the downloadable copy of the Soul Letters Workbook available in our shop.