Do you ever have the feeling that you don´t get enough appreciation? Such a feeling is easy to get.
For instance, you work for someone for many years and he never ever tells you how much you mean to him as an employee, or how useful or good your work is.
Or you are a parent and a partner for twenty* years, and everything you do is taken for granted. Or, even worse: not only don´t you get any recognition, but you only get criticism. This is wrong, that’s not perfect, such should be improved, so is not up to scratch. Effort doesn’t seem to count. Industriousness, steadfastness, loyalty and integrity aren’t recognised. But people do stumble over your weaknesses. They do manage to find fault with anything you do that isn´t quite perfect. And there is nothing to balance out their criticism.
Who can live like this? Not many people. Not all their lives, anyhow. Some can take it for a while. Some will hold on to the little good they have, for some time. But eventually everybody needs respect.
Everyone needs appreciation. All of us need recognition. Every human being needs a compliment now and then, and some appreciation.
When my first child began to talk, I quickly found this out. If you only exhort and chastise a child, it has a negative effect. Whenever she would do something wrong, I would tell her off, and I would tell her that she was naughty. After some time, I noticed that she began to ignore my instructions. She would start doing things she shouldn’t, things she knew were not allowed, even in my presence. I didn´t understand. So I asked her why she did it, since I had told her many times she shouldn’t do that. And she replied: ‘I am naughty.’ Apparently, telling her that she was naughty whenever she did something that was not allowed, had finally convinced her that she was naughty in nature, and that there was nothing to be done about it. I quickly changed course and started to take a positive approach, which soon paid off.
We all need to hear something positive now and then. Everyone needs a pat on the back. All of us need to hear we are needed, that we are sweet, that we are good – any compliment that we deserve. With just criticism, there is no balance, there is only negativity. And negativity is the most destructive element in any relationship, be it a marriage relationship, a work relationship, or any other relationship.
* I wrote the above in 2003. I’d been married for over twenty years then, and worked for the same boss for 15 years. Both did what I described above: they undervalued me (and that’s the understatement of the century), and were a source of constant negativity for me.
Shortly after I wrote this, my boss retired and was replaced by someone who did show appreciation now and then. Almost immediately my health improved, as did my enjoyment of my work.
Eight years after I wrote this, I divorced my wife. And almost immediately my health, happiness and general feeling of well-being all improved.
Makes you think, doesn’t it.