If you were given a lot of genuine appreciation while growing up, you will most likely be able to receive appreciation with ease as an adult.
Unfortunately, some of us were not so lucky so our inner appreciation container never got to grow. It stays very small. It's good to expand it. Why? Because if it’s really tiny, how will people pour all their big love and appreciation into us? There would be no space!
Here’s a story for you. Some years ago, my mentor expressed her authentic appreciation for me as a human being. Even though she used only a few lines of words, when I read them I burst into tears! The tears welled up from a very deep place in my heart and were accompanied by wailing and howling. If you asked me at that moment why I was crying, I wouldn’t have been able to explain.
The thing is, that my appreciation container was overflowing. There was just not enough space in it to hold this amount of admiration. As my appreciation container was expanding, I experienced both pain and joy. It was as if something was stretching inside me, some old wound was getting healed.
I believe that it is health-giving being seen by others as you are, especially if this person represents a “parent figure” for you.
Over time, I’ve become much more at ease with receiving appreciation. But still, sometimes when people say something nice to me I feel as if a little door is immediately shut inside my chest. I then need to consciously open that “door” to let the appreciation in. The ability to receive appreciation, for some of us, must be learned!
Notice what happens in your body when you receive appreciation, gratitude, or a compliment. Notice how you respond. Do you deflect it? If somebody says, “You look so fresh today!” Is your answer, “I actually slept so badly last night”? If so, try to open the door inside you and let the appreciation come in. Respond with a simple, “Thank you.”
Another thing you can do to grow your appreciation container is to ask for appreciation. This is an advanced skill, so don’t worry if it feels awkward in the beginning.
Tell a person exactly what you want to hear and then embrace their words fully. You can even open your arms while you are receiving their expression of appreciation to you.
For example, if you did a lot of work in the garden but nobody noticed it, you can say to your family, “Hey, guys, let me show you all the work I’ve done in the garden! Please, tell me, ‘Wow! You’ve done so much! I really like how you’ve weeded the flower bed!’” Then receive their appreciation without judgment.
If people in your family are not comfortable with verbalizing their appreciation—sometimes my sons are not J—it’s not a big deal. At least you’ve already said these words to yourself!
Give it a try.