All too often, we go through parent-hood with a tension, a struggle or feel it’s super-hard, and there can be all of these at play at any one time. It may be pertinent to start asking questions, such as ‘what is going on here? ‘why is this such a struggle?’ Why don't we see the gold that is living within us but rather find ourselves distracted by the chasm of distance between us.
Yet, a lack of self-appreciation can create a hardness or toughness within us and stops us looking at the positives in ourselves and in our children. We can, all too often, criticise and ‘battle’ with our children and forget to appreciate what we bring to them and what reflections they bring to us.
That does not mean we accept abuse from our children or them from us, but perhaps it does highlight that:
We have not valued the need to value
We have not appreciated just how deeply we need to appreciate.
We have been tricked into thinking that valuing and appreciating are trivial, and yet the lack of valuing and appreciation is often at the root of our issues; and that is because we are so used to seeking outside of ourselves for answers and solutions to our ill’s, we miss out on the understanding that we have everything within us to address what is before us
So, what are we talking about here? What does value and appreciation actually look like?
Could valuing ourselves be the choice to set standards for what we feel is important for us?
It could be that simple.
Valuing our standards means we can choose not to react when someone presses our buttons, but instead affirm that we do not want the poison of that reaction in our bodies. Could it be that before we value another, the first person we have to start valuing is ourselves, that as parents we do an incredibly important job, so we need to value who we are, value our body and treat the body as having the greatest value in the world. There is that great example in an aircraft, where, in an emergency, the oxygen mask goes on the parent before the child. This should be considered normal to ensure that you are well enough, nurtured and cared for, so you have capacity both mentally and physically to offer that to another.
Could appreciation be that we hold ourselves as deeply precious, that we appreciate to our bones what the people in our lives bring to us, and stop our incessant criticism of all around us, replacing it with seeing the learning we have from others, the amazing de-light others offer us, even when they are pushing our buttons!!! Sometimes it is easier to do with people outside the home for example, as we walk to the supermarket, talk to the check-out person or our colleagues in work. What about those we live with inside the home, can we appreciate them in the same way? And can we appreciate our role within the home?
What if we were to put ourselves on an appreciation program and refuse to allow criticism to be any part of our family life? This isn’t to say that we allow abuse or bad behaviour, that always needs to be called out, but the constant picking we have in our minds and coming out of our mouths when other people don’t meet our expectations or pictures, has to stop because it harms everyone, including ourselves.
Once again, we cannot appreciate another if we do not have that appreciation for ourselves. Without a strong foundation in self-appreciation, we cannot role model for our children what appreciation is, and how valuable it is to live a life of appreciation rather than a life of struggle. Otherwise our children learn what we learned: that the priority is to ‘get through’ life, and they have children who learn the same. It is a cycle of abuse for everybody.
I suspect we all want to break this cycle of self-sacrifice and self-neglect that ends up in a lack of values and appreciation. The cycle manifests in arguing and criticising those we love to our bones, yet this is only present because there has not been a foundational education in appreciation and having values and standards that support us.
Consider some top tips to start valuing and appreciating yourself:
Have you considered if others would know your values from the way you live?