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div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ height=”200″ src=”” width=”172″ //a/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”Years ago I was given a book called a href=”;tag=debtfree2010-20amp;linkCode=as2amp;camp=217145amp;creative=399369amp;creativeASIN=0929488024″Balcony People/a by Joyce Landorf Heatherley.nbsp;I will admit I never finished the book, but I heard several talks that described what it meant to be a balcony person./divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”o:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”A balcony person is the one who cheers others on without personal gain. They are the encouragers that are in the crowd cheering you on in your journey. They are the people who are genuinely happy for you when you achieve something they have not. They don’t try to hold you back or hold you down. In this game of life we hit bumps and slumps and sometimes the affirmation from others energizes us enough us get up andnbsp;perseverenbsp;in our race. o:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”Years ago i{in my 20s}nbsp;/iI can honestly say I was NOT a balcony person. bI was in the basement!/b I was the heckler on the side of the road. I was running my own race and I didn’t have time to cheer anyone on. As a matter of fact, to cheer someone one meant that I was not winning the game.nbsp; Everything was a competition and I was going to win i{I’m a first-born if you can’t tell}/i.nbsp; o:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”This mentality came from a background of having too many people telling me what I could not achieve, that I was not worthy, and that I was dispensable i{when you hear it a lot it becomes your self-talk}/i. I had been hurt too many times so I built up a wall to try to keep the hecklers out and focused only on me. I had so much hurt that when I dated my husband I would constantly say to him, “Are you sick of me, yet?” i{He obviously didn’t get sick of me, we’ve been together for 20 years!}/io:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”In my late 20’s early 30’s I started associating with a group of women who wanted me to win in life and were cheering me on. It was a little unnerving at first. I couldn’t believe that the were other women out there who actually cared about my life and my family. I was accustomed to women who wanted to tear me i{or any other woman}/i down. I wondered what they really wanted from me because prior to that point there was always an ulterior motive. o:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”bWhat did these women want from me? Nothing!/bo:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”They were truly there to support me and encourage me and pass on whatever knowledge they had in order to build me up. They wanted me to be successful in my marriage, in my finances, and as a mom. It was refreshing, humbling, and it changed my life.o:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”I realized that life is not a competition where there is only one winner. We all can win if we just step outside of ourselves and encourage each others’ strengths andnbsp; stop criticizing the weaknesses.i{When we criticize someone’s weakness it is because we feel threatened by them.}/io:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”Let’s face it, we all are good at something. When someone excels at something that you do not, rejoice in that strength! Let them know that you know they are good at it! People feel loved when others notice their strengths and acknowledges them. And when you are affirmed., return the gesture!o:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”bIs it hard to be a balcony person?/bo:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”Sometimes.o:p/o:p/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”There are people out there who will be skeptical of your encouragement. They are in the basement and want others to be there with them i{misery loves company}/i. Sometimes their negative self-talk overpowers your affirmation and they don’t notice. Or your affirmation gets outright rejected withnbsp;criticism. These are the people that are hurting the most./divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”Honestly it is hard to be around basement people. No one likes being around others who criticize and condemn the choices you make in your life. And frankly, no matter how much of a balcony person you are, nothing you say or do will help them change theirnbsp;opinionnbsp;of you. They are stuck in the basement and will probably stay there until they make a decision to change and grow.nbsp;/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”Over the last decade I have made an effort to be a balcony person, to encourage and affirm other women in my life. I’m not perfect at it i{and sometimes I find myself heading towards the basement}/i, but I do my best in encouraging others in their life journey. The surprise I have found in being a balcony person is that while you are cheering on others, you discover more people who cheer you on as well. nbsp;And that, my friends, is the greatest reward!/divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”br //divdiv class=”MsoPlainText”a href=”” target=”_blank”img alt=”Anna” border=”0″ src=”” //a/divbr /a href=”″span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-size: xx-small;”Image credit: anankkml /