Change my life? Really? I can hear the skepticism already…. but I believe it. Showing appreciation is POWERFUL! It makes others smile and gives yourself a sense of peace. The problem is that it is also hard. You have to do it like you mean it! The big question is how?

In my last post I said I was going to talk more specifically about things you can do to help yourself find a sense of appreciation, both for others and for yourself. So lets jump right in! I have split them between things you can do to show appreciation for others and things you can do to help find appreciation for yourself.

First, some recommendations for how to show appreciation toward others:

1. Find something specific that you like about that person and focus on that

Please remember: This does NOT mean that you have to forget about ways that a person has hurt you or you should ignore damaging behaviors. Instead, what I am suggesting here is that you work to not globalize one bothersome behavior or hurtful incident into the only thing that defines that person. In other words, almost everyone has good and bad sides to them and it can be useful to you at times to recognize some of the good parts of someone who you are in a relationship with.

2. Show appreciation without any expectation of getting anything in return

If you are expecting something in return, it is not a true expression of appreciation. It is YOU wanting to be given appreciation for something you’ve done.

3. Appreciate things you are genuinely appreciative of

People tend to know it if you are not being genuine. Express appreciation for something you really believe in, even if it seems unimportant (for example, “I really appreciate that you do the laundry every week!”).

4. If you do not have a history of expressing appreciation, be prepared that you may initially be misunderstood

It is normal for people to misinterpret new behavior. You may even get sarcastic or critical comments in return. This is hurtful, but it is essential that you don’t become defensive! This will defeat the whole purpose of what you are trying to accomplish. Recognize that there may be an adjustment period for someone to actually believe that you are feeling genuinely appreciative.

Recommendations of how to show appreciation for yourself:

5. Learn how to be more objective in your assessment of yourself

We are all our own worst critics and we tend to assume that others are thinking the same about us as we are thinking about ourselves – this is usually not true! We typically are most harsh toward ourselves in those areas of our lives where we lack confidence. Learn to recognize those areas and try to take a more balanced approach to your abilities. For example, try “I made some mistakes in my presentation, but it overall went well” instead of, “I made so many mistakes in my presentation, I really messed up.”

6. Find some good, even if everything feels horrible

We all feel terrible sometimes and we all go through hard times. Some of us have experienced repeated tragedies and traumas throughout our lives, and may feel that it is hard to ever feel happy again. While there is no “magic pill” for sadness, trauma, betrayal, and fear, finding appreciation for the strong parts of yourself and your capabilities is an essential part of working through these difficult emotions and finding a meaningful life again. Even small acknowledgments of appreciation are important, something as simple as: “I appreciate that I got out of bed today”.

7. Learn how to accept appreciation from others

Taking in and fully accepting appreciation or compliments from others gives yourself the message that you “deserve” to be appreciated. This is important, because many of us actually have difficulty with this. Have you ever received a compliment, and said, “oh, it was no big deal.” That was a REJECTION of the compliment! Being able to accept appreciation usually involves some form of saying, “thanks,” and THAT’S IT! Then you just have to take it in…..

8. Stop comparing yourself to others!

The biggest way you can show appreciation toward yourself is by stopping the comparison game and focusing just on yourself. There are ALWAYS people who can do things better and people who can do things worse! Looking to others for ideas or inspiration is fine, but if you are looking to others as a judgment on your level of success, you will end up in a constant cycle of dissatisfaction. Focus on what YOU want and then go for it without worrying about what others are doing or not doing.

There you have it – 8 things you can do to help you show appreciation toward yourself and others. Give them a try, and you may just be surprised at the type of life-changing effects they can have.

If you have questions about the techniques I have discussed please do not hesitate to contact us at the Salt Lake Relationship Center. Learning how to show appreciation on a regular basis is a long process and seeking therapy may be something that is beneficial for you. Check out our services or schedule an appointment here.