Category: Boundaries

What is Acknowledgment and why is it soooo important to use it?

Do you know how to acknowledge someone? Do you know why it’s so important to learn this valuable skill?

In simple terms acknowledgement validates who you are. That’s really BIG so I invite you to sit with that thought for a moment….Validation implies that you are a valuable part of someone’s life, family and community.

I was recently talking to a good friend of mine and during our conversation the word acknowledgement came up. She told me she had no problem acknowledging her friends or family, but struggled with acknowledging her husband. We talked a little bit about it and I explained to her that one of the reasons this may be difficult is that with spouses we come to expect so much more from them; almost too much, so they often seem lacking in our eyes. Hence the holding back of acknowledgment. The irony of course is that the more you acknowledge your partner the more they WANT to do for you. So a lack of acknowledgement simply leads to more lack – period.

Past resentments can also lead to withholding acknowledgment, consciously or unconsciously. Resentments can keep you from having what you truly want; usually a reciprocal and loving relationship. Resentments can run deep and most people don’t have the skills to get to the heart of the issue and release it. But that’s another topic.

Spousal type relationships are complicated. They are the deepest form of relationship one can have on a non-familial level. Your spouse or partner sees you in every kind of conceivably vulnerable situation; or at least that is the hope in a loving and healthy relationship. What’s more, they become a very clever and clear mirror of every part of who you are and it’s not just the standard mirror it’s the magnified version…ughh! Yes, they reflect back to you all kinds of deeply rooted behaviors as well as the superficial idiosyncratic behavior. There is a presupposition in NLP (which stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming, a form of quick behavior change technology) which in essence says: the response you get is a direct result of the communication you express. That oughta make you stop and think. Communication is CRITICAL (again other topic) and acknowledgment is part of communication. So think of acknowledgment as positive reinforcement. When you see your spouse do or say something that you may often take for granted, acknowledge it.

One of my favorite movies, takes this concept a bit deeper. In Avatar the indigenous people have a phrase; they say: “I see you.” It is the deepest form of acknowledgement possible because it acknowledges your essence at your very core. It is a heart-to-heart connection. As humans, being acknowledged is a very basic human need because remember it validates your value.

Acknowledgement can take some skill. It’s not exactly a compliment, although it can sound and feel like one. Remember you are simply reflecting back a positive and valuable observation. It is a sign of recognition. Here are a few examples:

  1. I can see that you are are doing your best and I want you to know that I noticed this.
  2. I really see the effort you are making and I truly appreciate it.
  3. I get that this was a challenge for you and I recognize the hard work you put in.
  4. I hear that you are struggling and I want you to know that I can just listen if that would be helpful.

Try them out and let me know how it goes.

When do you use the “D” word (Deserve) and the “G” (Guilty) word?

I was on my group mastermind Q&A call recently and one of the group members was in the Hot Seat receiving excellent coaching to her question. When the call was over I saw her post a comment in our Facebook group that she “felt bad” because she thought she’d taken up too much time during the call. While I appreciate her humility (because there are people who can self-servingly TAKE extra time) her well-intentioned comment struck me as a “knee-jerk” response. I know, because it’s a pattern and knee-jerk response for me.

Too often I hear women use responses like “I’m sorry” and “oh that’s OK” and “I feel bad” and do you know why? Because somewhere deep down we feel like we don’t deserve “it” or we feel guilty receiving it.

Sometimes we don’t even use these words to describe the knee-jerk feelings underneath because the pattern is so engrained in us as women. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has a motto: to Serve and Protect. Sometimes I think women have unconsciously adapted this motto to be: to Serve and Deny. As women we have grown up learning that we are “good” when we serve others and often learn to “deny” ourselves because otherwise we are selfish. If we do allow ourselves something, we often qualify it by saying ‘I deserve it’ as if we need to justify it to ourselves. I know you know what I’m talking about. These beliefs are powerful forces in our culture and believe me when I say it is a learned behavior.

Now, rather than ask ‘where or how did I learn it’ I like the question, “How do I un-learn it?” because feeling bad about things truly does NOT support you. It is interesting information in that it teaches you that having more resourceful thoughts, behaviors and actions does support you. Like anything you want to change, you must become aware that it is happening, when it is happening and how it impacts you.

How to Un-Learn:

  1. Paying Attention. Begin by becoming aware of when you have the self-deprecating thought, belief, action or behavior.
    1. What do you say in your head?
    2. Where do you feel it in your body?
    3. When does it show up, i.e., what trigger’s it?
    4. How does it impact you?
    5. How do you feel when you say/do it?
  2. One new different action. Once you discover the answers to the questions above, decide on ONE new action, thought or behavior you will take as soon as you notice yourself engaging in the old pattern.
    1. For example: If you notice yourself saying “I’m sorry” for no apparent (damn good) reason, a different action might be to ask yourself “what am I sorry about”? Or to even say “I take that back.” This will interrupt the unconscious pattern that continually plays out. There are tons of different things you can say and do to interrupt this pattern. Just find one that works for you and do it consistently.
  3. STOP beating yourself up! You didn’t learn this behavior overnight and you won’t unlearn overnight. Don’t even go there because it’s too BIG a gap to go from changing an engrained, unconscious pattern you’ve been using for years to not doing it all. There is an old joke: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. Take one act, thought or feeling at a time.
  4. It’s OK if you slip up, just correct yourself and for goodness sake keep doing it! Falling down is expected.
  5. Take small, adaptable steps that continue to build.
  6. Be consistent. It’s KEY to your success!

Reflection: Taking charge of your life is a process. Applaud yourself on what a great human being you are and how you are striving to make your life better and better every day, it will begin to counteract the self-criticism. There is a fine line between humility and criticism.

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