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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Recognition and Appreciation

This blog is at the request of a friend who sent me a (Dutch) article from Psychology Magazine on recognition (NL: erkenning) including appreciation (NL: waardering). It took me some time to recognise and appreciate its importance. Perhaps fear was another reason for my delay. To some extent, this topic is like a taboo as we really don't like to admit how much we crave for it.

The Psychology Magazine article is about the importance of recognition and appreciation and about the impact on our lives when we do not receive it (on a timely basis). Expressing recognition and appreciation (to others) is often hard for us as it feels that we are losing power. The resulting squeeze between expressing and receiving is like a chicken and egg dilemma: What comes first?

The importance of recognition and appreciation is visible in the so called Maslow hierarchy of human needs. Wiki: "Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" in Psychological Review".

Recognition and appreciation is at #4. This may seem low until you realise the first three steps: #1. Food, water, sleep, etc. #2. Shelter, safety and security, #3. Friendship, family and (sexual) intimacy. Step #5 is self-actualisation or self-realisation.

The impact was visible on Father’s Day. I didn't hear anything from my children which hardly comes as a surprise. I'm used to their behaviour and expected it, although it still hits a nerve. Unfortunately, other people started wishing me a nice Father’s Day, which annoyed me. We expect recognition first and foremost from our parents, our partner, our children, our brothers and sisters. Hearing it from friends, acquaintances, and co-workers is just different.

I vaguely remember that my daughter once complained to me that I raised the bar for her, compared to her younger brother. She was right and I acknowledged that. Raising children requires a delicate balance between the children’s strive for recognition and appreciation, and the parents’ strive for ambition. To some extent, ambition is indirectly a parental strive for recognition and appreciation through the children's efforts. Although I had my reasons, more praise and less pressure would have been appropriate and deserved.

I suppose that we all use our perspective on our childhood experiences as a rear view mirror in defining how we should (not) raise our children. Parenting does not require an education or a license (see 2 May 2015 blog) while it's clearly one of the most challenging efforts ever.

Another friend told me that she never felt recognition or appreciation from her parents. To date, it still has a negative impact on her life. I doubt her parents treated her badly. They were just too busy with their work and their own relationship. They may not even recognise her side of this story. Essentially, it's her opinion – her perspective – on what happened back then rather than an undisputed fact.

During my visits to - and conversations with - Joan, I noticed how important my recognition and appreciation of her role in my life is to her. She is proud of her role and shares it with family and friends. It touches me whenever I hear her talk about it. It even touches me writing this. I am proud of holding her hand during my visits as it’s another way of showing love and affection (lyricsvideo) apart from recognition and appreciation.

The New Radicals - You Get What You Give (1998) - artists, lyrics, videoWiki-1, Wiki-2

Don't let go
I feel the music in you
Fly high
What's real can't die
You only get what you give
You're gonna get what you give
(don't give up)
Just don't be afraid to live



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