Sam Crabtree’s Practicing Affirmation is excellent.
He argues that the normal drift of our lives pushes us toward correction and criticism and away from encouragement and affirmation.
It can become really easy to get trapped into a mode of constant correction–so that correction becomes the dominant theme in your home or workplace. This can kill morale and demotivate everyone. It can also cause cold estrangement in the closest of relationships. How do we warm up the room?
This is where we get in trouble: affirmations tend to evaporate over time. Meanwhile, corrections keep piling up. Corrections tend to out-number affirmations, and by doing so, corrections sabotage or undercut the value of affirmations. Occasions to correct keep arriving like a…treadmill in perpetual motion. “You left the lights on in the car, dear.” “Finish your homework, son.” “Late again?” “Not that way; this way.” Individually, these are innocuous, and one might argue, necessary. But they pile up, and if not counterbalanced by an overwhelming gang of affirmations, they take over the flavor of the relationship.
The importance of affirmation does not entirely remove the place of correction. We’re going to live with sinners. We’re going to marry a sinner. Our children will be sinners. Our parents are sinners. The people around us are going to pull bonehead moves, and in love it will sometimes be our place to point them out. They are going to smell bad, and it’s our job to inform them before they go out in public. They will burn the burgers. They will do something that is mediocre, that will hurt the team or waste household finances, or something else regrettable. But love does not always look first for ways to correct.
Think of it this way: give so many affirmations as a pattern, as a way of life, that you gain a reputation for it. You are known for your affirmations, not your criticisms, your corrections. In Acts 4:36 Barnabas is called the “son of encouragement.” What’s my reputation? Mr. Crabby Pants? Miss Nit-Pick? We should unleash so many affirmations that those around us lose track. So, it’s not a matter of mathematical precision…but a spiritually organic way of living, more like romance than rocket science….It’s like the weather–how much rain is enough? Well that depends on how dry it’s been. And what are you trying to grow–a watermelon or a cactus?Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, 45-46.