Appreciation is an underutilized, yet hugely valuable, ingredient in successful relationships. Many of us take a major blow to our self-esteem when we divorce. Practicing appreciation of ourselves and others can help heal our wounded hearts. It is like a fertilizer that can help relationships grow and strengthen. Expressing verbal and non-verbal appreciation for another helps build safe and loving communication channels.
Wondering how to get into the groove of appreciation? Here are the seven strategies I call the “Appreciation A-B-Cs” to get you off to a great start. Each of these strategies is simple and effective, whether you’re in a relationship or not.
1. Keep Your Appreciation Simple.
Your verbal statements of appreciation to another don’t have to be fancy or long. Drs. Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, renowned psychotherapists who advocate appreciation as a way to create lasting relations, recommend keeping it within the length of time for one out-breath. Try a simple “I appreciate you for ____…” to get you started.
2. Speak from Your Heart, not Your Head.
Don’t think too much! Your most effective guide is your heart, not your head. Take a moment to breathe, visualize your heart and let the words flow from there.
3. Keep It Up.
Expressing appreciation on a regular basis is more effective than going on a binge one day and then dropping into radio silence for the next two weeks. Set some simple goals like expressing one heart-felt appreciation to your partner each day. One woman credited starting daily appreciations with reviving a flagging marriage! If you are single, give yourself that yummy appreciation or call a friend and express your appreciation for that friendship. Giving and receiving appreciation may feel awkward initially, just like a muscle that hasn’t been called upon for a while. Simply keep up your efforts and soon it’ll become a natural and effortless habit.
4. Cover All the Bases
Once you start looking, there are so many things you will realize you appreciate in the people in your life! Look at what they do; how they communicate; how they look; how you relate to each other. Look for things to appreciate and you’ll start to find them.
5. Don’t Let Just Words Do the Talking
Appreciation doesn’t always need to be verbal. Play with nonverbal appreciation as well, such as leaving unexpected notes in lunch bags or briefcases, flowers, extra hugs or strokes, delicious eye contact, and other small acts of kindness.
6. Who to Appreciate.
Loved ones, family and friends are clear candidates for receiving appreciation. How about your co-workers or employees? Why not expand your horizons to include your hairdresser or the check-out clerk at the grocery store? Appreciate your home, the city you live in or your health. Expanding your list of who and what you appreciate will help you to live in an “attitude of gratitude” which will help you keep centered and open, better able to take on any challenges that might still be in front of you.
7. Appreciate Yourself.
Do you ever find yourself in need of appreciation? I always encourage my clients to start by appreciating themselves first. It’s amazing what wonders doing 10 written self-appreciations every day can do for your spirit!
This is a blog post by Carolyn B. Ellis, the Founder of Thrive After Divorce, Inc. A Harvard University graduate, Carolyn is a Certified Master Integrative Coach, Teleclass Leader and the first Canadian to be certified as a Spiritual Divorce Coach. She has also served as a Staff Coach at the Institute for Integrative Coaching at John F. Kennedy University in San Francisco, CA, and has been trained personally by its founder, NY Times best-selling author Debbie Ford. Her award-winning book, The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce was published in 2007. She is a member of Collaborative Practice Toronto. Her three amazing school age children and bouncy labradoodle dog are her daily sources of inspiration and joy.