It has come to my attention that I never really appreciated what people did for me for most of my life. Oh sure, I always thanked them at the time for their kindness in the moment, but I never really appreciated their actions and what they meant on a much deeper level. And I never really appreciated myself and all of my good qualities (which I couldn’t see as a much younger version of myself).
As young children, we receive most of our self-worth from our parents. In the beginning of our lives, they are our teachers of what has worth and what does not. If we meet with approval for our actions, we learn what is acceptable in the society we live in. If our actions are met with disapproval or negative responses, we quickly learn to adapt and change for the desires of others.
Children who are shown approval experience a growth of self-esteem because of the responses from other people. Children who are criticized for their actions receive the message that they are not worthy of praise, acceptance or appreciation. Their ability for self-appreciation becomes limited or non-existent.
Many parents of my generation thought that criticizing a child’s actions was the way to instruct them and show them how to behave in proper society. This may work on some level, but it does nothing to show a child that they have worth if all they do is not acceptable. But parents, for the most part, are only as good a parent as what they themselves experienced as a child. They can only mimic what they learned from their parents while growing up.
I don’t remember ever being praised for something I did. I remember being criticized for my actions, yet I have no memory of anyone feeling good about something I did as a child. I never got to see how special or worthy I was through the eyes of another person. There was no way for me to know that I had much worth at all.
I never realized that my gifts and talents were my special offerings to share with others. I never really appreciated them at all. If I could never see how special they were, how could I ever believe that someone else might find value in them?
Looking back, my immense lack of self-belief in myself or my gifts and talents means that I never thought they had any value at all. That being true, why would I think that anyone else might think they were worthy of value? I simply didn’t see that another person doing something special for me meant that I was special to them and worthy of their thoughtfulness.
I also never made the connection that when I gave of myself or created a special gift for someone, it was a way of showing my appreciation of them in my life. I did it because I wanted to show that I cared for them; that their presence had meaning for me. I didn’t have the ability to see that giving and receiving are two halves of appreciation.
The thought comes to me that if I had valued my gifts and talents myself, perhaps others would have seen the value in them also. I often wonder if my lack of self-appreciation had anything to do with the fact that when I used my creativity in the making of items to sell, success in retail remained elusive and still does.
So many questions with few answers.
I have come to appreciate my gifts and talents as my special gifts to the world, but it’s taken many life-lessons to understand this. The personal growth I have experienced has caused me to realize that our self-worth is not based on another’s approval. Our individual value has nothing to do with how another person perceives us and that we are worthy of our own high assessment of our intrinsic significance.
Expressing gratitude for all that we have is held to be a high spiritual offering these days. Many people think that gratitude and appreciation are the same thing. Someone once pointed out the difference to me with two sentences: “I am grateful for your presence in my life”, and “I appreciate your presence in my life.” The first made me feel good, but the second had a deeper, more profound feeling for me.
I spent some time on the internet looking at the definitions of each word. What follows shows the difference and the similarities of both.
Appreciation is seeing the good in life, recognizing the gifts that come our way and showing gratitude for them. Appreciation is the highest form of gratitude. Appreciation is recognizing the actions or good in someone or something.
Gratitude is focusing on what’s good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have; an affirmation of the good things we’ve received. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and a readiness to show appreciation.
4 A’s of Gratitude:
Appreciation: recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of something or someone.
Approval: the belief that something or someone is good or acceptable.
Admiration: something regarded as impressive or worthy of respect.
Attention: notice taken of something or someone; the regarding of something or someone as interesting or important.
Self-appreciation is seeing yourself exactly the way you are, valuing yourself for it, and showing yourself compassion and gratitude. Self-appreciation can change your life by transforming negative ideas of yourself into positive and nurturing self-beliefs.
Self-appreciation comes down to valuing ourselves for what we already are and all the good that comes with it.
Self-appreciation is positive self-talk. (If we wouldn’t say it to our best friend, we probably shouldn’t say it to ourselves.)
Self-appreciative self-talk: I am enough; I am needed and loved for all the good that I am; I do not abandon myself, I can fill myself up with love and support; I am grateful for my resilience despite my anxieties; I have so much potential even if I don’t see my growth right now.
When you learn the importance of self-appreciation, you gain the best supporter you could ever have – yourself.
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