Thought for the Day:
“Kindness is choosing to acknowledge and celebrate the beauty in others, regardless of whether or not they can find it in themselves.”
Question for the Day:
Do you acknowledge the accomplishments of others?
In my work as a therapist, one of the things I’ve noticed most is how often people do not feel acknowledged. Many people, even ones that have impressive resumes, stellar educations, and a laundry list of personal accomplishments, generally feel as if they simply don’t matter. I can’t tell you how many times a person in treatment will experience a breakthrough just by receiving basic validation such as “I’m proud of you” or “you did good.” Though many believe therapy is primarily about unlocking the subconscious through extensive analysis of deep seeded emotional wounds, a lot of my work simply involves reminding people that they are special and that what they’ve accomplished is important. It’s amazing how far a sincere “good job” can go with people you’d think already recognized their worth. Yet, what I’m understanding more and more is that the people who have stepped out on faith to break generational curses and succeed in the face of incredible obstacles, have often done so despite an overall lack of support, validation and recognition from those who should be the proudest of their success.
I personally relate to this as well. Though many of my dreams have yet to materialize, I’ve made advancements that I thought would be more celebrated by the people who claim to care about me most. People who don’t even know me well have been most encouraging, while those who have witnessed my struggle first hand have gone silent. Admittedly, it’s often my first instinct to conclude that it might be envy, but realistically, I’m not exactly stuntin’ on folks yet in my 2012 Mitsubishi and 50 You Tube subscribers.
Perhaps it could also be true that people tend to think those who are on the ball, don’t really need support. The reason we’ve adopted the concept of “checking on our strong friends” is because they are usually the ones whose needs go unnoticed. We see those who are making good strides as competent, strong, and independent, thereby making compliments and validation of their efforts unnecessary. Or maybe we’ve bought into the “strong woman” mantra that has so many folks insensitive to the burden that many working women carry. Whatever the reason, I’m writing this post to encourage us as women to be more intentional about uplifting one another. Here are some reasons why people sometimes withhold acknowledgement from those who deserve it most.
We assume they don’t need it – It’s easy to assume that those who have achieved any notable amount of success must have life figured out. The presumption is that they already have the intelligence, skills and resources they need and anything extra would just be overkill. For example, if a female entrepreneur is at the helm of a thriving business, we think she must have connections, money, and influence, which is likely true. However, what’s also probably true is that she has a lot of stress, extra responsibility, the burden of carrying the livelihood of others on her shoulders, less time with her own family, and the hurdles of sexism or racism in the business world to overcome on a daily basis. Her life must require significant sacrifices to her time and she will often have to deny what she desires so that her customers and employees needs can come first. Though she may appreciate her drive and tenacity, it would certainly help to know that the people she loves most also understood and openly appreciated those qualities. Knowing that one has a tribe of supporters will inspire the entrepreneurs and emerging business leaders of the world to keep innovating and creating opportunities that benefit us all.
We don’t want them to “think they’re all that” – I’m not sure where the idea came from that everyone has a compliment maximum that if surpassed will have a permanently negative impact on the ego. We take in upon ourselves to be the gatekeepers of praise and feel it’s our duty to ration out supportive feedback in a way that will ensure one doesn’t end up thinking TOO highly of themselves. As a counselor, it’s much more common to find a person depressed and racked with self-doubt as a result of not getting enough validation as opposed to getting too much. Though too much unwarranted praise could result in narcissist tendencies, there is nothing wrong with affirming a person who has earned recognition. I am not a fan of big egos, but I know the difference between just gassing somebody up and offering well-deserved praise. Praise and acknowledgement of even small victories lets others know that their efforts to move forward are not in vain and inspire continued accomplishments that benefit the entire tribe. Yet if you can never give credit where credit is due, don’t be surprised when you find yourself missing out on blessings when your friend blows up and remembers how little you supported her efforts along the way.
Fear of being outgrown – Though most won’t admit this, many people are afraid to have the people they care about evolve to the point of leaving them behind. This kind of fear is usually born of personal insecurity and is typically a reflection of what a person believes about their own value. If you don’t feel good enough to have a successful friend, then the answer to me would be to work on building yourself up instead of attempting to bring those on the rise back down to your level. Withholding praise and support is never going to stop God’s plan for someone else’s life. Instead, it just ends up limiting your access to that life once it materializes. Personally, I seek out people who are positive, striving and doing more than me because it gives me a vision for what is possible for myself. I can absorb the knowledge and insight successful people have to offer. What sense does it make to dim another woman’s shine when it might be God’s way of illuminating the path He would have me to follow?
Fear of being outdone – Some people withhold their acknowledgement of others successes because they’re just plain competitive and don’t seem to understand that there is room for everyone at the top. Instead of seeing someone else’s accomplishments as an indication that there will be less success to go around, you should understand that the next person’s come up means that the same is possible for you. Another sister’s win is not about “one upping” another individual. Instead it’s about “one upping” systems of sexism, racism, chauvinism, misogyny, marginalization, and inequality which puts us all in a better position to prosper.
Personal Insecurity – I’ve written about this before, but many times the people who have a hard time fixing their mouths to offer congratulations to someone, are really just testifying to a personal dissatisfaction with themselves. It’s hard to celebrate another’s growth if your ultimate fear is that you might never reach that same level of success. A person who doesn’t see their own value, will certainly struggle to point out value in someone else. So, if you find that you’re tired of hearing about someone else’s glow up, perhaps it’s time to check yourself, come up with a life plan, go to God for direction and pour all that misdirected energy into fulfilling whatever purpose God has for your life. Sorry (Not Sorry): Rehab for the Apology Addict .
Self-validation will always be the most important and effective way to stay encouraged, but let’s not neglect our responsibility to be our sisters keeper. We have to make it a point to acknowledge the progress, growth, beauty and well-earned victories that are hard bought for most women. When you see the value in what another woman has accomplished, don’t ever hesitate to tell her, “Girl, I see you!” Recognizing the power to create, lead, innovate, organize, execute, heal, and love in another woman is to acknowledge the God that blessed her with those gifts. Since the God I serve is no respecter of persons, I can freely praise Him for what he does in the lives of others because it means every good and perfect gift is equally available to me.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11