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Deciphering inspiration, intimidation

I'm sure you've all met someone recently who was inspiring to you. You have probably met someone who intimidated you, also. So what's the difference for us when we feel inspired or intimidated, because the source of those feelings could, quite frankly, be the same person for different people.

When we feel inspired by someone, we feel as if we have bumped into another human being who creates an openness for us, a belief that anything is possible, given the right motivation and circumstances. An inspiring person can make us believe we can create something from nearly nothing and make it successful. That's just how they see the world and how they convey their enthusiasm to everyone they encounter.

When we feel intimidated by someone, we often feel as if we have bumped into someone who disempowers us or makes us feel as if our capabilities are nothing special, at best, and inadequate, at worst. An intimidating person has the power to make us question ourselves and our abilities to be successful, to wonder why we would even try to impact the world with a new, fresh idea.

Our response to an inspiring person is likely to be with enthusiasm and encouragement. We realize the opportunity to enter into the excitement they convey about the projects or tasks at hand and we become infused with similar eagerness and passion and to become a part of the process they describe.

On the other hand, an intimidating person is likely to cause us to question ourselves and our ideas, our motives and maybe even our common sense. There will be no enthusiasm or encouragement, but rather apathy or opposition. We may wonder why we feel a flatness regarding the project or task and we may experience uncertainty about our creativity and inventiveness. Their response to us and our ideas can shut us down.

In adulthood, hopefully we have gained the ability to read whether another person is inspiring or intimidating and are able to respond with confidence, regardless of external stimuli. Hopefully we have enough assurance in our abilities and resourcefulness that we are able to accurately read the responses of others and turn away from those that do not resonate with what we know within ourselves.

An inspiring person has their own inner confidence and they have a desire to support and encourage our ideas and ingenuity. An intimidating person, on the other hand, often lacks inner self-confidence, and our success threatens and intimidates them. Their response to us is to shut down our ideas so their negative feelings subside.

Which will it be for you? Inspiration or intimidation?

Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist