Ep 36: The Importance of Appreciation

It’s been said that the deepest need in humans is to feel appreciated. And if we tie that to our relationships, I’d agree. One of the most important things to cultivate in your relationship is a habit of appreciation for each other.

Appreciation lets us know that we are valued, validated, and seen.

And it feels amazing.

If appreciation is missing in a relationship, the heartache is felt and distance begins.

Thankfully, a lack of appreciation doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed. With intention and understanding, you can relearn how to focus on what’s good and cultivate a home where appreciation becomes a habit.

This is an excellent episode to listen to with your partner!

What You’ll Get From This Episode:

• Why humans need appreciation
• How to appreciate yourself first.
• The importance of pausing before reacting.
• 3 Steps to cultivate an atmosphere of appreciation
• 4 Questions to ask yourself to begin an appreciation practice today. 

Mentioned On The Show:

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Hi! This is rachael cunningham and You’re listening to Joyful Love, episode 36

Hello friends!
I’ve talked about gratitude before on this podcast .. Which I’ve come to define as the ability to see beauty in the present moment – to pause often and ask yourself “what am I thankful for, right now?”

But I haven’t talked much about genuine appreciation for yourself and your partner …

Is there a difference between gratitude and appreciation? I believe so.

Where as gratitude can be an internal feeling and choice …

Appreciation is something that is shared … and it affects the well-being of your life and your relationship

We all want to be appreciated – especially in longterm relationships and marriages.

Why? It validates us. It shows us that what we do is valued by someone else.

Gratitude is a feeling of being grateful or thankful.

And Appreciation is the recognition or enjoyment of feeling grateful.

I like to put it this way: Gratitude is bringing awareness to what is good.

Appreciation is sharing that awareness of what is good with others.

While both gratitude and appreciation are feelings –  appreciation takes it a step further and puts action to the gratitude.

And when it comes to building a healthy relationship, it is so helpful to have lots of appreciation flowing back and forth!

And we all could use some more appreciation in life, right?  We WANT to feel appreciated. We want to feel like we are valued in someone elses life … especially our partners.

It’s not fun to feel like you’re always on each others nerves … like you’re always in each others way.  It can feel heart-breaking to be in a relationship where you don’t feel appreciated.

So many of us are so busy …  and in many cases we’re over-doing to keep things running smoothly at home and work, and with our kids. And we do so much that what used to feel like giving out of love to our partners … now feels like expectations. We think they just expect us to do these routine things for them …

ANd when we feel like we’re expected to do all the things – we quickly feel under-valued … un-appreciated. And at times even taken-advantage of.

When we don’t appreciate or feel appreciated, it leads to bickering and arguing over small things. And after the fight, we often say – “what even started that fight?”  We don’t even remember – but often the root of an argument starts with not feeling seen and appreciated. We don’t feel valued in the relationship.

 If we spend most of our time feeling devalued, inadequate and unappreciated, we end up creating a cycle of being at war with each other.

If you want more joy and connection in your marriage, It’s so important to reset this negative pattern?

Because you know what? When we feel appreciated, we feel a sense of belonging. Like, this other person wants me in their life. They appreciate my existence. They are aware of what I do.They see me, they value me.

We all want this. We all desire to be noticed and appreciated in our relationships.

And here’s what I’ve noticed …

Both partners go through times when they do not feel appreciated for what they do and simply for who they are.

Both partners feel taken advantage of at times.

And most of the time – each partner is feeling this at the same time.

One partner comes to me and says, they don’t see all that I do … And the other comes to me and says, I feel like I do everything wrong ….

They’re both saying the same thing – I do a lot – I try hard – and it’s not valued. It’s not appreciated.

So how do we change this dynamic.

If it’s just one of you listening to this podcast, good news! The power is in your hands to make this important shift!   If both of you are listening – excellent! you can both implement these changes on your own.

Remember there is so much power in being the one to go first!

I’m gonna give you 3 steps to start bringing more appreciation to your relationship ..

  1. Bring awareness to what IS working.

When I was growing up, my mom started her own cleaning business – and after she became a registered nurse, she began slowly letting that business go – When I was 18, there was one couples house that I cleaned that i decided to hold onto to make some extra money each week. They were the Hendrix family … and someone in my family has been cleaning their house for about 3 decades now! We just keep passing it on!

Now, My mom taught me how to clean extremely well. Top to bottom every week, I’d clean this couples house. And for the most part,  I enjoyed it.

But then I got a new job, working full time as a receptionist and this house cleaning gig became something I had to SQUEEZE into my week. I began rushing through it. I started rushing so much that I”d forget certain areas – and I’d leave thinking, “Oh my gosh, did I clean their half bath? Was I supposed to clean the baseboards THIS week or next week?”

I started slacking … because I was rushing.

And after a few weeks of that, I felt really bad about it. I started feeling guilty and I assumed that Ms Hendrix was noticing all the stuff I had forgotten to do or was slacking on and I kept thinking, that I was not valuable to her anymore.

But then Christmas came.

And she left me a card with a $20 bonus in there. Now $20 was a lot of money to an 18 year old in the 90’s!  The card was so sweet and she told me how much she appreciated all that I did for her. She let me know how much she valued  the time that  I saved her every week and how I was so thorough …

Wait … she thought I was thorough??? Did she not notice all that I was missing?

But it didnt’ matter.

What matter was that she appreciated me. And she let me know.

And just her speaking that – and acknowledging what WAS working helped me to feel valued.

It helped me to believe in myself again to pay a little more attention to detail next time! It helped me to WANT to focus on what I loved about working for her!  And I showed up the next week with more confidence and tenacity to improve on the areas I was neglecting.

I’ve often thought of that story in relation to how I want people in my life to feel. Especially my life partner and my kiddos!

It is so much more helpful to focus on what IS working – to bring awareness and to celebrate the things that are good in a relationship.  When someone feels valued and appreciated – it doens’t make them want to slack – it’s an invitation to keep raising the bar – to find hope and belief in themselves and in turn the relationship again.

And quite often in a marriage – when we notice things our partner is slacking in – or even things WE”RE slacking in – our tendency is to criticize and undervalue – which only creates more tension.

Instead – when you notice something that needs improvement – just like ms hendrix did for me at the ripe age of 18 …. Begin to highlight what IS working. Notice where your partner is showing up and showing love. Where are they making life easier for you? Where are they doing their absolute best.

Bring attention to that and tell them that you notice!

Okay, the 2nd thing I want you to do is to
2. Get to the heart of the matter.

One thing we often do when we FEEL unappreciated is to say things like “I do everything around here.” Or, “You don’t realize how much I do.”

Instead – begin to look at what’s underneath these words.

“I do everything around here”   is not usually a helpful statement. ANd it’s probably not even true when you really dissect it.

But if you look at the root cause of that statement – it’s most likely “I’m lonely. I miss you. I want more time to relax with you during the week. I want us to work together as a team so our lives feel more connected.”

Do you hear the difference between the two? The first “I do everything around here” sounds critical.  The second, “I’m lonely. I miss you. I want more time with you” focuses on the VALUE you have for your relationship.  It brings an appreciation for the time you want with your partner.

And it’s gonna go a lot further in creating a conversation that helps you work together to find change in your family systems than a lack of appreciation.

There may also be other thoughts and feelings other than lonlinesses that are full of hurt – that are masked by exhaustion.

So Look deeper. Get to the heart of the matter. And say what you WANT … What do you appreciate and value in your relationship .. and what do you want more of?

If you are missing your partner because you’re so busy, or because they’re so busy- say that. Get vulnerable and speak from your heart.

Words that communicate “I miss you, or I value our life together” have so much more power than “you suck and are ruining my life!”

So – get to the heart – what does your heart really want? Connection? Teamwork? Speak to that.

The third thing I want you to do is to

3. Pause, reflect and take responsibility to go first

One of the things they teach impulsive spenders is to simply pause before making a purchase. So if you have a chronic spending habit … learn to Wait 24 hours between the initial desire to have the item and if you still want it after your intentional 24 hour pause, then you can make the decision.

Pauses are a beautiful thing in life. The pause in between a deep inhale and exhale.

The pause between your thought and what you say.

Even the pause between the thought, I want to kiss them … and the actual kiss – can speak volumes and make a massive difference in the way a kiss between two lovers  is received.

Don’t believe me? Pause next time you want to kiss your partner good bye real quick … and look into their eyes first – notice the difference!!

There’s also power in pausing before reacting.

When we don’t FEEL appreciated, we want to quickly shift blame and therefore we undervalue and don’t appreciate our partners in return.

Instead, bring awareness to your emotions. Notice that you do not feel appreciated … and reflect where you can bring change to this.

Firstly, are you appreciating yourself? Are you taking the time to say, “Hey! I know you’re having a hard time – but look at where you ARE killing it! Look at yourself in the mirror, put your hand on your heart and say, “You’re doing a good job. I appreciate you.”

You’re an amazing mother. You love your kids. You’re killing it at work. You’re willing to learn, reflect, and grow every day to figure out how to show up for yourself and your family in new ways! Well done!

Actively show that appreciation to yourself – especially when your tendency is to beat yourself up for not figuring it all out yet!

What if you’re not supposed to have it all figured out yet? What if you will still have things to learn and grow in for many years to come? So what?  What if that’s what it is to be human … to keep growing and learning and improving how we love?

You’re still magnificently beautiful right now. Own that. Appreciate yourself. Appreciate how far you’ve come and how far you are willing to keep going!

And then …. Feel that shift.

Feel the shift from blaming and criticizing to appreciating yourself and all you do right now.

And then ask yourself – where can I share this same appreciation for my partner? It feels amazing to feel valued – where can I show my partner that they are valued?

Where are they killing it in life?

Where are they trying and learning and growing?

Where are they fumbling and failing, but continue to pick themselves back up and keep going?

What about them do I appreciate?

And when your mind begins to look for things you appreciate, it just keeps finding new things ….

Like sometimes I’ll hug Cris and I’m like, ahh that cris cunningham smell! He smells like home. And no matter what’s gone on throughout the day – I appreciate that simple thing – that he smells like home.

I appreciate that he feeds the animals.

I appreciate that he cares for our kids just as much as I do … even though we both show it differently!  

I appreciate that he is in this life with me!

But here’s the thing – I want to be the partner that doesn’t just THINK these things.  I want him to know it!

So I want to be the person who SHOWS appreciation to my guy – who tells him outloud that I appreciate him!    Why?

Because it’s more fun that way. That’s it! It is more fun to share my appreciation than to share criticism. Love is fun. And appreciation is part of that fun! Part of that love!

So ask yourself these questions this week:

1. What’s working in my relationship right now?

  1. What is the heart of the matter behind my frustrations? What do I really want and where does the love I feel for my partner fit in with that?

    3. Where can I pause and take the initiative to appreciate myself and my partner this week?

Be open to seeing different ways throughout your day where you can validate and affirm yourself and your partner.

Because Building a culture of appreciation gives your romance the right environment to grow … and to keep growing for years to come.

And on that note … I appreciate you. Everyone of you. Those I’ve met – those I’ve coached – and those who are listening from afar whom I hope to one day meet … I appreciate you.

If you’re getting a lot out of this podcast, head over to itunes and leave a review. THe more reviews this show gets, the more itunes shows it to others who need it!

Thank you so much – and I’ll be back – right here – next week!