I’ve started doing new mini episodes on my 60 Mindful Minutes podcast and I call them my Weekly Nugget. These are short episodes that give me an opportunity to share some things that I’m thinking about lately and practices that I find helpful in my own life.
This week I’ve been thinking about how we can feel more acknowledged.
And it all started during a coaching session with a client who had worked really hard all summer to create more space in her life to have fun with her family. I mean, she worked really hard to work less and ended up creating some wonderful experiences with her kids.
I asked her what it would be like to ask her family to acknowledge her for her efforts and I proposed it could look something like this: Hey family, you may not be aware but it really took something to clear my schedule for many of the days this summer that we spent hanging out and doing fun things together when I would normally be working. I’m tryin to make our family life more of a priority and I’m really proud of myself for some of the ways I accomplished this over the past two months. I’d love to be acknowledged by you for this.
The concept of asking for acknowledgement felt strange and foreign to her, which I imagine would be true for many of us. It’s not common practice to ask people to acknowledge us.
But what if it was?
The truth is most people—even our own family and closest friends—have no idea what we have on our plate, how hard we’re trying, or what we’re accomplishing and creating.
What if we got used to asking each other this question: What would you like to be acknowledged for?
I’ll tell you from my own experience, an entirely different sort of exchange ensues. Here’s why:
It Taps Into Our Need to Feel Known
We feel connected to others when we sense their desire to know and understand us. To feel that those we love get us and appreciate our joys and struggles gives us a deep sense of belonging. When we share the things we’d like to be acknowledged for, we give people the opportunity to know us and to see the things that matters to us. It pulls back the curtain of our lives and lets people in.
It Cultivates Curiosity About Each Other and Ourselves
Ironically, the people we are closest to are usually the ones we are least curious about. We already “know” our loved ones and closest friends, and so it’s easy to overlook opportunities to go deeper. We tend to go through the motions with people we spend our lives with, rather than seek out opportunities to see each other with fresh eyes and an inquisitive heart. And funny enough, I’m always a little surprised with myself when I answer this question because it allows me the space to go a little deeper in my inner world. It allows me to get more curious about myself.
It Turns Us Into Noticers
A friend shared with me that she was proud of the way she had kept her cool during a stressful situation with her family on a recent road trip. This insight deepens my understanding of her because now I know that staying steady when life gets wobbly is of high value to her. Now I can watch out for opportunities to acknowledge her for staying grounded. Now I can notice that she’s someone who’s really working on that.
We Model That We Matter
The last thing that sharing what we’d like to be acknowledged for does is that it demonstrates that we see our triumphs and trials as mattering, and worth talking about. If you were to ask me today what I’d like to be acknowledged for I would say I’d like to be acknowledged for how well I handled being a single parent last week while Marc was in California. Saying that out loud acknowledges that it was a lot, I had a lot on my plate last week but I handled it mostly with grace. It demonstrates to the people I share my life with that I’m a real person with real feelings and real struggles… and that I matter.
The concept of asking for acknowledgment didn’t come from me. Several years ago, one of Marc’s clients shared with him this daily practice she and her husband had started that had resulted in them feeling profoundly connected to each other.
The simple practice goes like this: choose someone in your life to connect with once a day. It could be your spouse, a friend or even your child. Create a time each day to ask them, What would you like to be acknowledged for? Notice how the responses have more depth than had you asked, how was your day? Use routine moments in your day, such as at mealtimes or right before bed, to anchor this ritual into your life.
Here’s my challenge to you: Don’t be a mystery to those you share your life with. Let people know what you’d like to be acknowledged for. Start today.
ABOUT KRISTEN MANIERI (COACH, HOST OF 60 MINDFUL MINUTES)
Kristen Manieri is a coach who works with teams to increase both productivity and wellbeing. She also helps individuals navigate transition with clarity and confidence. Her areas of focus are: stress reduction, energy management, mindset, resilience, habit formation, rest rituals, and self-care. As the host of the weekly 60 Mindful Minutes podcast, an Apple top 100 social science podcast, Kristen has interviewed over 200 authors about what it means to live a more conscious, connected, intentional and joyful life. Learn more at kristenmanieri.com/work-with-me.