To encourage a person is to instill courage in them; courage to be, do and achieve. It can build them up when they are down, inspire them to achieve, stimulate their development, and embolden them when fearful. Just a few words can give the incentive to achieve one’s optimum.

Recently I received a letter from a highly successful business person in another city I had not seen in about 30 years. He was a lifetime achiever starting in high school. In every phase of his life, he had emerged as a productive leader. In his letter he recounted that when his family moved to Cobb, I came by their house to welcome them. He was a little kid. He related that when leaving, we paused in the foyer and I looked down at him and said to his parents, “You have a winner there.” In his letter he said he never forgot those words and was motivated by them at every juncture of life to always be and do his best. Just a brief positive statement impacted his life that when he looked back they had colored his entire life.

As a naive college freshman, an older spiritual leader said to me, “If you live a life above reproach you can become president of this student body.” I liked the idea of being president so I went to my room and looked up the word reproach. I set that as my lifestyle. I didn’t fully achieve my goal, but I came closer as a result of having it. The person who encouraged me proved to be a prophetess.

The basic of hypnotism is confidence in the hypnotist. All of us have in effect been hypnotists many times. We grow up playing the game “You are!” People all around are the hypnotists by saying you are smart or dumb, pretty or ugly, or other character-forming words. My third grade teacher with whom I was in love cast a spell on me when she passed my desk, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “You are a good little boy, you just don’t have any self-confidence.” From that day on, I did not have. Had I shown self-confidence, I would have made a liar of her and, loving her as I did, I could not do that.

Later I started playing another game: “I wish.” I wish I was as good looking as Sam, I wish I was as smart as Nell, I wish I was as fast as Reggie, I wish I was as rich as Carl. It is a futile, wasteful life. Some play one or both of these games all their lives.

Years later I paused and had a little talk with myself saying, “Miss Jones was as wonderful as I thought, BUT she was wrong. God made me and ‘He don’t make no junk. I can have self-confidence.’” From that day on, I started playing a new game: “I am.” No longer did I play “You are.”

From then on, who I became was who I resolved to be. I am me.

All of us play those games. Today you can reflect on what game you have been playing and, more importantly, you can decide who you are going to be.

Perhaps along life’s path you have been unwittingly and perhaps unknowingly hypnotized by some authority in life: a parent, teacher, coach or someone you admired. Is it time for you to have little talk with yourself? Sometimes the best talks we have are with ourselves.

The Rev. Dr. Nelson L. Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.

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