Hi friends, happy December! As many of you know, I was in Michigan a few weeks ago proudly cheering on my badass hubby who was selected to speak to students as one of Michigan Tech’s “5 under 35” successful alums. First let me just say, Houston winters do not properly prepare a girl for the wether up in that part of the country – we might as well have landed in the North Pole!
In any case, after the main event (and putting on at least 3 layers of warm clothing) Dave and I went to a bar with the rest of the alums to celebrate. One of the program coordinators approached me and said “I loved your FB post about Dave, it makes all the difference in a marriage when spouses show their support for one another.” She went on to explain that her marriage of over 20 years had eventually ended because their relationship lacked this element of admiration and verbal affirmation. For a hot second there, I basked in the feeling of being the best wife ever – totally #nailedit! But then the weight of what she said – her marriage ENDED because she didn’t feel appreciated – sunk in. Sure, I hit it out of the ballpark with my sweet social media shout-out, but how often do I acknowledge the less public but equally amazing stuff Dave does as a partner, a friend, and a dad? I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m awesome too – I mean, we did choose to get married and spend the rest of our days together willingly and sober! But do we share that with each other? Like, you know, out loud and in full sentences? Not always, and probably not enough.
I think most of us could share our appreciation for others – wether it’s our spouse, sister, friend, or yoga teacher (winkity, wink) more than we currently do. Sadly, it’s the people who are closest to us who get the short end of the stick when it comes to praise. It’s natural to take good things for granted when they become the norm, and besides, they should KNOW we love them, right? Ah yes, I can almost hear my dad saying this to my mom, who for the 100th time replies that she still wants to hear it….and it wouldn’t hurt if he did the dishes every once in a while either.
The excuse that we’re just not good at expressing our feelings (looking right at you, boys) is not a very good one considering we rarely have an issue verbalizing what annoys us about other people. So why is it that using our words to show appreciation is so tough? Based on my own experience and observations, I have a few guesses.
- Our culture generally looks down on sentimental, touchy-feely interactions. Soft = Weak. Although I don’t agree with this on an intellectual level, I admit I am far more comfortable teasing someone or giving them a compliment within a playfully sarcastic stab than just straight up telling them I think they’re the best (I know, what am I, a 5th grader?)
- We’re afraid they’ll stop trying if we tell them they’re already great. This one clearly applies at work if you’re in any sort of leadership position, but it can also play a role at home. It’s tempting and sensible to think your husband is going to get you flowers and help out around the house more if he thinks he’s not meeting your expectations. False, false false. In my experience, people who feel appreciated are far more likely to continue doing the right things to stay in your good graces. We may not always execute perfectly, but ultimately, we all want to do a good job.
- We’re afraid they won’t reciprocate. I get it, no-one wants to say “I love you” only to hear back “I think you’re nice too.” Even when the feelings we’re sharing aren’t as dramatic, it can be hard not to hear that the appreciation is mutual…and sometimes we choose to avoid the whole thing altogether, just in case.
- We’re too self-involved to notice and take the time to comment. Unfortunately, I think this one may be the primary culprit. In order to give genuine and specific praise (the only kind that counts), we have to pay attention…and that doesn’t happen when our eyes are pointing down at our smartphones all day and our minds are busily checking off our to-do lists/ re-playing that morning’s work meeting / figuring out what we’ll eat for lunch.
No matter the reason, there are about 100 more in favor of actively seeking the good in people and sharing your appreciation with them. Being seen, acknowledged, and valued are basic human needs, so there is no better gift you can give the special people in your life than to share just how awesome you think they are. This holiday season, I invite you to be a little less grinchy with your praise – for others and for yourself.
And just in case I haven’t officially told you – I think YOU are an amazing human being and feel incredibly grateful that you are part of the Yogaleena family. Happy holidays and cheers to a beautiful 2019!