J.K. Riki

Encouragement vs. Discouragement

In our lives we inevitably come upon situations with both encouraging and discouraging responses. If you’re anything like me, you may find that you unconsciously focus on the negative replies. Here we find ourselves with an opportunity.

We cannot change the responses we get. They are from outside us. But we can change our focus. This is akin to the quote by Maya Angelou who said “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

We can look at those who are encouraging us, rather than the ones trying to tear us down. This is not ignoring people, or hiding in a bubble. I am not suggesting we delete discouraging comments, unfollow everyone who we disagree with, and pretend the whole world feels the same way we do. What I have found exceptionally helpful this past week has been taking time to sit and appreciate the encouragement in my life.

Instead of just glossing over someone liking one of my tweets or pieces of artwork, I’ve stopped and been still. I’ve started looking at their name and icon and making an effort to be grateful that what I created meant something to them. I’ve let it take a spot in the front of my mind for a minute.

A friend recently said to me that “likes have no value.” In some ways I tend to agree. Yet they individually have the potential to do something very important for you, if you let them. When someone likes something you’ve made, be it artwork, music, or written word, if you stop and appreciate that you’ve affected another person in a positive way, their little Like has supreme value. If you gloss over them (or worse, lump them together and think to yourself “I wish I had more likes on this post”) then any value a like could have quickly disappears.

Sometimes likes become so common to us that we forget what they are: symbolic cheers of encouragement.

This week I am going to try to continue the trend of focusing on encouragement rather than discouragement. I am going to be conscious about seeing each person who interacts with me, even when it is as simple as a little heart icon on Twitter. Want to give it a try? The only thing you have to lose is the bad feeling you get when someone discourages you. And you will gain a perspective of knowing that what you are doing matters to someone, and that person matters, too.


  1. Adam

    You have a great perspective on liking things in social media. I like your attitude. (Pun intended. I’m so, so sorry.) It seems so much more grateful to accept “Likes” as individual expressions of support than to quantify them as a cold, hard statistic.

    Do you know what else I like? I’m fond of the shield-eating monsters called Like Likes from the Legend of Zelda games. Do you like Like Likes? I like Like Likes. If any of them have social media accounts, I suppose Like Likes like “Likes,” too. (This time, I’m not even sorry!)

    1. JK Riki (Post author)

      At least with your occasional comments I still get a healthy dose of mini-TMTF! 🙂

      I couldn’t remember what Like Likes were, so I looked it up, and either you’re insane or a liar. NO ONE LIKES LIKE LIKES. They’re awful! 😛 http://img07.deviantart.net/f586/i/2012/143/a/4/link_like_like_plastic_by_likelikes-d50v6ip.png

  2. Jennifer

    What a terrific post, thanks for that. Your very correct, I am always looking at downvotes on my Youtube channel rather than appreciating the upvotes. I never realized that until this made me think of that! Time to make a change. ^.^

    1. JK Riki (Post author)

      Good deal! I hope it makes for a positive change. 🙂

  3. Momomom

    I have never used a “like” because I felt people just did it more to acknowledge they were there themselves. But I like your blog a lot and imagine I should comment. I actually share some of your thoughts with not just friends, but business contacts too. Thanks for making me look at things in a new way or reminding me of something I already know and just don’t think about anymore.

    1. JK Riki (Post author)


      Glad it’s been helpful to a long-time supporter. 😉

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  5. Feiya

    Consider this an encouragement then, this is a good post! 😉

  6. Tina

    Being a parent is a nonstop challenging opportunity to do just this. I find encouragement is even more needed when the person encouraged is a child. Children need this kind of feedback so they grow up and pursue great things.

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  8. GradyDad

    Just the image is a good reminder. What side are you on, blue or red? Reminds you to stay on the better of the two!

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