Several weeks ago I undertook a writing project outside my comfort zone. Truthfully, it didn’t amount to much, but it involved my own content–not something I had written on behalf of someone else–and it made me feel vulnerable. I was nervous and unsure, but determined to soldier on.

Intending to bolster my courage, I reached out to an online acquaintance and told her my plan. She’s also a writer, and her transparency about her struggles throughout the process had always made a writing life feel more approachable to me. As I had hoped, she offered the words I needed.

“I AM EXCITED FOR YOU!!! You can do this.”

My reaction, however, took me by surprise. I immediately burst into tears.

First, you have to understand that I don’t cry. I hate doing it, so I don’t. My therapist, of course, finds this a travesty and has made it her goal to reverse this trend, but generally I keep tight control on that particular emotional manifestation.

Second, I had NO idea that was coming. As I sobbed (yes, sobbed) in my kitchen, I wondered what the h*ll was going on with me. I was truly bewildered.

I realize now that those simple words from someone who wasn’t prone to shower me with platitudes held power. Yes, I had sought those words of encouragement, but their true effect blew me away.

According to Tamer Ahmed, when someone believes in you, everything can change — fear decreases, confidence increases, the bravery to aim higher and take a leap grows. The thing is, I didn’t realize how badly I needed someone to believe in me until a few simple words reduced me to tears. Those words released me from holding myself back. I took the next step knowing someone had confidence I could do it.

Showing someone you believe in her gives that person the courage to believe in herself; it is truly one of the greatest gifts you can offer. If you don’t believe me, speak encouragement whenever you can and see what takes root. If no one has ever done that for you, let me know and I’ll be that person. And if it leaves you crying in your kitchen, I’ll know it worked.

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