One thing I often hear people say is that they just want to be appreciated. In most areas of our life, we desire to be appreciated. Anywhere we put our time, energy, and efforts. We want the efforts we make and the love we bring forward to be acknowledged by our loved ones and family. Our caring for each other comes from the heart, and we want others to notice. When working in healthcare, it was one of the biggest complaints I heard from coworkers. The most common phrase was “I don’t need a big promotion or raise, I just want to feel appreciated.”

It seems to be the ultimate reward for all the hard work and dedication that we do not only in our work, but within our families. I think we like to think we are humble enough that we don’t need the recognition, but I think it is just a natural part of us that would like the confirmation that our efforts don’t go unnoticed. When we feel underappreciated, it can easily lead to negative feelings and, at times, depression. When we feel like no one cares, we can question our existence and purpose to live. Sometimes these feelings lead to actions. Some of us may seek another job. Some of us may end up leaving our spouse or having an affair. Those that choose to bury it inside can also manifest in illness and disease. Bitterness is not a friendly emotion.

When we expect others to appreciate our work and efforts, we may not realize we are giving away our own power to our emotions. Being dependent on how others think about or appreciate you can easily leave you feeling helpless and out of control.

The good news is that no matter where you are on the spectrum, we all have some options in dealing with these feelings. One place to start is to pay attention to how much you are appreciating others. The more you can show some appreciation to others, the more likely you are to notice it coming back to you. When you express your appreciation for another, often they will return the sentiment. Often we do not open the door to receive until we first give. We also help show people how we can treat one another. We often lead by example.

Another really powerful way to open up more love is to appreciate yourself. We aren’t often taught how to notice all the things we do daily for our families and those around us. When we can express loving kindness through appreciation with ourselves we end up filling up our own cup (heart). When our cup is full, our appreciation tends to overflow towards others. It also keeps us from feeling like we are depending on other people to receive appreciation and giving up more of our own control. Sometimes the reason people can’t appreciate you is because they do not know how to appreciate themselves.

Many times we aren’t aware of how much appreciation we are showing to ourselves and others. Once we are more mindful of how much appreciation we are feeling, demonstrating, and showing, we can take the steps to do it more often. Here is a wonderful opportunity to show those that are in our life how much we appreciate who they are and what they do. Write a heartfelt letter or email. Send a card or phone call to simply express your gratitude. You could even step up a little further and send some flowers, a gift basket, or maybe a gift certificate for a bakery or dinner. We don’t have to wait for a holiday or birthday to express some form of appreciation. Be creative. Think about how good it feels to randomly get an unexpected surprise. Notice how it makes you feel and see what returns to you!