Langston Hughes asked in his well-known poem titled "Harlem," published in1951, "What happens to a dream deferred?" Sometimes the answer to this question is that the dreamer gets discouraged and gives up on pursuing his dream. If one of your loved ones has fallen victim to such despair, a little encouragement and support from you can go a long way toward inspiring him to press on despite his frustrations.
Let your loved one know, unequivocally, that you are with her in believing in and supporting her dream. Do this not just with your words but with your actions as well. Show your loved one that you have confidence in her ability to eventually win the day! In an interview aired on the August 10, 2011, edition of the PBS News Hour, former auto worker turned Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Levine told interviewer Jeffrey Brown, "She (his wife) worked, so that I can sit home and scribble. And she honors what I'm doing. And I think that is the most crucial thing, to be honored... even if it's not by a nation, because a nation is an abstraction, but just to be honored by this person... your wife, or your brothers, or your mother, father, I mean, it's just fantastic. It keeps you going in a way that nothing else could keep you going."
Lend your ear. When your loved one runs into daunting obstacles in the course of pursuing her dream, be there to listen as she vents her frustrations. Be patient as you allow her to air her feelings. Without this occasional release, the chance increases that your loved one's frustrations could build to a point that overwhelms her and drowns her dream. This is, in part, the basic strategy of many therapists. The therapist tries to create a safe place where clients feel comfortable sharing their feelings and venting their frustrations as a vehicle for achieving certain goals. As you listen, try to remain objective. Don't take on the frustrations of your loved one. Being able to offer your loved one an outsider's perspective on what has her so dismayed could help your loved one to see her dilemma in a fresh, more encouraging light.
Encourage your loved one to continue to imagine what it might feel like to live her dream. One way to do this is to help remind your loved one what her dream could look like if it were fulfilled. If your loved one dreams of being a professional actor, for example, go to plays with her. These vicarious experiences of seeing others live out what she is striving for can work to stoke your loved one's hunger to fully experience her dream and push her to keep trying for it.
Point out and applaud the small accomplishments your loved one achieves in the course of pursuing his dream. This will help call to your loved one's attention that even if things are moving forward slowly they are at least moving forward. These little successes can provide just the jolt of fuel needed to inspire your loved one to keep hanging in there and working at it.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images