A phrase we hear a lot is “dig deep”. We hear it from coaches telling their players to pull out all the stops when they don’t think they have any more to give. We hear it from television detectives asking to investigate into the nooks and crannies of someone’s life in order to solve the crime. We hear it from fundraisers as they pull on our hearts to contribute to their worthy cause. We hear it from teachers to pump us up to get through that test, to conquer that material. We hear it from preachers as they try to motivate us to live our faith fully.
I get it. I know what they mean.
But sometimes that phrase bothers me. Why? Because it implies that I’m slacking off, that I am not enough, that I don’t measure up as I am. That I am lacking something intellectually, philosophically, spiritually, etc.. When someone tells me to “dig deep”, what I often hear is – You’re not “getting/performing/understanding/agreeing”, to my standards. You’re not enough.
I know it’s meant as an encouragement – that the person just knows I have what it takes (knowledge, strength, fortitude, faith, etc.) – but that I’ve buried it somewhere deep within myself and just need reminding.
Sometimes that’s true, whether it’s from fatigue, grief, overwhelming circumstances, or just laziness, I have just buried it. And sometimes – I don’t have anything deeper. I don’t have the intellect, the faith, the strength, the fortitude. Sometimes, it’s just not there.
Want to encourage someone? Let’s take the time to know who we’re talking to. What do they really need to hear? Let’s think before we speak (or write, or text, or make that Facebook post). Words (and tone) matter.