As far as love languages go, I am a black hole for appreciation.
I love it. I could hear it all day long. It is a salve for my efforts. It fuels my passion. This was not true 14 days ago.
Last year at a friends gathering, I shared my top love languages. First was physical touch—to which my husband balked. The next was quality time—to which my family replied, with yourself! The third was acts of service—no one had anything to say about this; it is certainly how I give love. The last of my love languages would be—gifts. And, barely registering a nod of even being on the list was appreciation.
Until two weeks ago.
I realized to bring my work further out into the world, I had to own what I need and ask for it.
My desire for appreciation hid in plain sight. My children, husband, and friends realized my need intuitively, but I kept myself in the dark longing for what was right in front of me.
With this realization, I sat myself down and had a hard talk.
“Look, you love to be appreciated. You’ve worked super hard all your life for those short and sweet offers of gratitude. There is nothing wrong with longing for and accepting them. If you deny your own love language, if you deny who you are to be something you are not, your hard work has been for nothing. Own it.”
It was a good talk. I needed it.
But now, I feel ashamed to ask for appreciation. While working really hard to build a robust and sustainable path to wholeness for myself and my clients, I have also built a Teflon shield against my need for accolades. I feel dirty to want something in return for my efforts. I so want my work to be of benefit and then fade into the background—hit and run transformation.
But that voice inside who yearns to be valued is not my voice alone. It is the voice of our ancestors—women and other marginalized people—those who survived to give me life and the privilege to live it on my terms.
That voice says, “Tracy, you have built something really amazing. You have also built the resilience to put this amazing work into the world. Your ancestors, the shoulders on which you stand, deserve your action. You are not here for you alone. Feel their support for you. Put your work out there.”
That voice holds the sword at my back. I cannot turn around or turn back. The sword is not punitive. It is the sharp point of insight that the Buddha talks about. It is ignored only at great peril to living a full life on purpose.
So, I take one step forward.
>> This first step is empathy for myself, and thus an increased ability to empathize.
>> Then another step, to love and feel what I want and need and offer this to others in return.
>> The third move is to ask for, and open space, to receive love in the form of appreciation. The energy I gain from each step fuels my sacred progress to own my precious gift of life and live on purpose.
May you realize what you need to actively bring your work into the world. May this article be of benefit.