Looking for what's wrong

There is no doubt that relationships in our day to day lives can challenge us. We can trip up over seemingly very small stones on our path and can all too often end up looking out for those tiny stones that we develop a dislike for to ensure they don’t trip us up again. The stones are of course the small things that annoy us, that don’t fit the picture of how we think the relationship should be, and when it comes to our children, there seem to be very many stones for us to see and feel annoyed about. Sometimes it’s as if all we see are the stones and not the child in front of us. 

They don’t do their chores, their bedroom is a bomb site of ‘stuff’, they don’t smile when we come home, they don’t do what we consider to be important and they never do X, they don’t do Y and they will not do Z.

So, we fall into a pattern of looking for what’s wrong instead of appreciating this amazing person who came into our lives with such great joy, appreciation and celebration. Instead, we can fall into seeing our child as a pile of irritating stones that trip us up more and more. Could it be, that it’s the very pictures we have how on our child should be that are affecting us, and tripping us up, and not so much the previously cherished bundle of love?

We are not raised with the understanding of the power of appreciation. Instead we are raised to think appreciation is a frivolous thing, a bit of a nonsense that is going to give someone a big head. We dismiss it as a bit of fluff, but what we are missing in the lack of appreciation is a powerful action that has so many ripples and the ripples have an influence we can barely imagine.

Appreciation is like magic, it changes situations

in ways that are unexplainable and unimaginable.

Let’s look at a case study:

​Jane lives with her two children, she works, she has very sensible children yet there are still so many things about them that annoy her. She comes home from work and as she turns her key in the door she starts thinking about all those irritating things. She comes in and her eyes then confirm that she was right to be irritated by them because everywhere she looks there are things that she wanted to look or be different. This then flowed into an evening of frustration, expectation and often disharmony in the home. So, one day she decided she was going to appreciate her children instead of looking for the proof that all her irritations were due to their perceived failings. All day, when she thought about them, she could feel a warmth in her body as she recalled things she valued about them. And there were so many things to value. For example: with her eldest, he had natural leadership qualities that if embraced would keep then all on time and on track as a family, she had previously seen it as bossy and imposing, possibly even rude. Yet if she gave him space to embrace these qualities, it then made her job easier, she could feel supported and not like a constant nag. Her youngest child has a strong sense of order and when left in the kitchen, or if asked, would tidy all the cupboards in a way that made her smile when she open them, everything is so easy to find and is in just the right place when it was needed. She had thought ‘her way’ was better for many years and been irritated that nothing was where she left it, but now she could see that there was an opportunity to allow an equal member of the house to offer another option. So that day when she put her key in the door, instead of feeling all the irritation she usually felt, she just valued them and appreciated all they brought – whatever the pictures that presented to her were. The result was magic. She didn’t feel heavy and down as she usually did when coming home, and the kids seemed to be really open to what she had to say when they sat down to discuss it at dinner. She shared what she had noticed about their strengths and what they bought to the home and they in turn shared more of what they felt their strengths were and also what hers were. What came out of that mini experiment was a sense of teamwork in how they worked together, it was more harmonious with everyone having a role and everyone feeling appreciated in that role. They blossomed and she stopped feeling like a ‘Negative-Nancy’ and that everything was for her to do. Now there is an ease in the house, no one is bossing anyone around, no one says they are right and so judging others to be wrong, instead the relationships are more equal and supportive than before and not based on age but on mutual respect. There are things that need to be done by Jane and there are things that don’t. When we start judging again, it’s easy to see we have stepped away from each other, but what’s also easy to see is that we can quickly re-align to appreciation and the gold it brings. It is not about holding back what needs to be communicated, but about understanding what might have come in to interfere with the harmony of the ‘normal’ we have now all come to live. No longer do we feel judged for our failings and imperfections, we feel the permission we can give ourselves to be all we are, imperfections and all, with no holding back. This openness is the key to building trust and a strong sense of acceptance that we are more than enough as we are.

Further reading

Helpful advice or criticism

Falling in love with appreciation

What do our children see?

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