Appreciation.

Life has been an uphill climb lately.  And yeah, I’ve been complaining.  It’s natural, right? 😬 But I also recognize that you don’t reach a peak of the mountain without first walking through the valley.  

For the past 4 months, it has literally been one thing after another, and it’s taken me on an emotional roller coaster.  There have been essentially 7 significant events that have each taken me down a notch (or several). 

While I’ve been able to lean on people who care about me for support, there is still something missing that’s left me feeling unfulfilled.  So, I’ve been doing what I do: completely analyzing these situations to find the root of what has me feeling defeated and less than.

And here’s that I think it comes down to: appreciation.  We all have this innate desire to feel seen and heard.  And while I have received “thank you” or “I appreciate you” comments, some haven’t felt truly genuine, nor has the appreciation equated to the toll each situation has taken on me.  The scale is still weighed more negatively. 

Psychological research has shown that when people are perpetually in a situation where they are ignored, this causes real emotional pain, and that in turn will cause physical problems caused by the stress of being ignored on an ongoing basis.

(source)

If I’m being honest, this is where I feel I am.  It’s not that I feel I’ve been completely ignored, but I don’t feel I’ve been truly seen either.  What’s more is that a few of these situations have prompted me to re-evaluate relationships, adding to the feelings of loneliness and loss.  Not only am I enduring the stress of each situation compounded, but also the stress of not feeling seen or heard in each situation compounded.  

But I can’t recognize this problem without also finding a solution.

This made me think about the 5 Love Languages.  How someone expresses love is essentially the same way he or she express appreciation.  If we can apply this to romantic relationships, why wouldn’t the same concept apply to professional relationships too?

Turns out, the same people who wrote the 5 Love Languages also wrote a book about the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.  And you know what?  They’re the same!  (I’m really not that surprised by this. 😏)  Here’s what appreciation in the workplace looks like:

  1. Gifts – Lunch or a bonus
  2. Acts of Service – Actions speak louder than words (actual help)
  3. Quality Time – Undivided attention (real active listening)
  4. Words of Affirmation – Expression of genuine gratitude
  5. Physical Touch – Strong handshake or pat on the back

My mentor gave me quality time and words of affirmation. She validated my feelings and encouraged me to make some moves. The friend who avoided our conversation left me feeling ignored and unappreciated. One made me feel seen and heard (in limited capacity) while the other definitely did not.

Receiving appreciation in any capacity is external and not within my control.  I can’t force someone to genuinely and authentically show me they care.  I think that’s what makes it so meaningful when someone does. But it also comes back to recognizing small wins, because we don’t always receive appreciation in grand gestures.

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