Knowing that we are genuinely appreciated is satisfying. From a choice theory perspective, we might say that appreciation satisfies our need for power, recognition, esteem.
Regardless of how we analyze it, appreciation feels good. I sincerely hope that you have personal experience of this.
However, you may also be familiar with the other side of the coin. That is, you go out of your way to do good but you perceive that it’s not appreciated. While you may not be doing it for the “glory,” it’s still more encouraging to have your efforts acknowledged rather than ignored.
Curiously, you may have also observed that recognition sometimes comes more readily from people who are not close to us. Going out of your way for a stranger may bring you a smile and an effusive thank you. Going out of your way for your partner, child or parent may appear to bring nothing more than an expectation that you will do that, and more, again.
As we can’t control other people, we can’t force them to appreciate us. “Look at me! Look what I’ve done for you!” is not likely to bring the response that you may have hoped for.
If a lack of appreciation in your life is causing you dissatisfaction, here are a few suggestions that might help.
My first suggestion may sound a bit harsh, but it’s worth consideration. If you believe that you make ongoing sacrifices for others that aren’t appreciated, maybe it’s time to take a cold, objective look at what you are doing. Is it, in fact, valued by the other person? Everyone doesn’t appreciate the same things. As a trivial example, you might believe that your uncle appreciates your regular cheery phone calls. However, if he sees it as a nuisance, it would be helpful to know.
It can be hard to accept that the reason you don’t get appreciative feedback is because what you are doing isn’t valued. But you may as well know. Then, if you wish, you can focus on actions that are valued, rather than on those you think should be valued but aren’t. How do you find out? Ask.
My second suggestion involves the joy that we get from doing kind, helpful acts for others. Evaluate your actions yourself. Does what you are doing measure up to what you believe to be right and worthy? If so, then accept the joy that comes from doing it. While that inner joy is not the same as appreciation from outside, it has value, too.
Finally, while we can’t control whether others express appreciation, we can control whether we do. I suggest that we be truly appreciative, and say so, whenever the opportunity arises.
You might have the perception that too much appreciation could “go to one’s head” or seem fake. But does it hurt to express gratitude when your child calls as promised, when your partner remembers the milk, or when your co-worker helps you out?
When we look for opportunities to appreciate others, we become more aware of actions that are worthy of appreciation. If that makes us more grateful, appreciative people, maybe we’ll all be more inspired to appreciate each other! Wouldn’t that be nice?
Do you feel appreciated? Unappreciated?
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
- Control and Choice
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- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
- How it is sometimes
- Love & Belonging
- Perception & Reality
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