Balance purpose, relationships, and self-care

Empathy works. It always does.

Appreciation in 4 steps

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There is a tender beauty in expressing appreciation. There is something precious in sharing how someone’s actions enriched your life. A little line of connection between two people on this earth, who care enough about each other to find joy in supporting each other.

Even if you only say “thank you”, you water the seeds of joy, love and trust within yourself. Appreciation reinforces awareness of everything you have and everything you receive that is positive, pure and good.

No matter how grim your circumstances seem, how dark your future, how gloomy your past, appreciation highlights the moments of joy, love and harmony that you do have.

My friend suggested four steps of appreciation. Three to express to your friend, partner, parent, sibling, neighbor. One to express to yourself.

1. Observations

You start with a specific observation of what the other person did. Simply, as if you are a fly on the wall who recorded the event with a camera. The less interpretations, evaluations, judgments, the easier it is for the other person to know what you are talking about.

2. Feelings

Then you share how you felt when you observed what happened. Maybe you felt happy, touched, relieved, proud, tender, joyful? You can use your physical experience to locate and connect to your feelings.

3. Needs

Then you share how the action of the other person nurtured a need in you. Needs are universal throughout space and time. All feelings point to universal, human needs we all share. Maybe your friend supported your need for support, acceptance, understanding, compassion? Sometimes sharing your needs feels a little vulnerable, because we own up to what is important to us. We are a little bit more seen than before, a little bit more naked.

4. Your contribution to the event

You end with acknowledging the qualities you brought to the table to invite this experience in your life. You appreciate your consciousness and choices that made this possible. Maybe you were courageous enough to ask for support. Maybe you are grateful enough to notice the unfolding leaves on the tree. Maybe you are helpful enough to support your friend in need. There is always something in you that made this experience possible.

You’ll notice a big shift in your experience of life, if you practice these four appreciation steps twice a day for one month. Start today. Life is too short to postpone what’s important.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

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