We all like to be appreciated. Everyone understands the value of acknowledging others, too. And yet, I observe others passing up hundreds of opportunities to appreciate every day. At this point in my life, I actively look for and pounce on chances to groove on others. But I wasn’t always so magnanimous.

There was a time when I would keep score. When I didn’t feel confident or powerful, appreciating others felt like giving away my power. I felt that I was diminished somehow by the act of giving.

I’ve pinpointed 8 ways my weak confidence would block me from appreciating others. Can you relate to any of them?

1. Comparing. You have more stuff and/or power than I do. If I give you acknowledgment, it adds more to your pile and my pile is smaller in comparison.

2. Me first! I need to be appreciated before I’ll feel like appreciating you. I haven’t been appreciated enough, in the right way. My bucket must be full before I’ll feel like adding to your bucket.

3. Competition. There’s a limited supply of stuff and power. Giving any away increases my anxiety about not being able to get enough stuff for myself.

4. Holding a Grudge. You took my stuff (money, success, love, respect, dignity, power) two hours/days/weeks/months/years ago, you jerk, so there’s no way I’m gonna give you a compliment!

I lost a lot of power and energy when I focused on avoiding being bested, or to feeling compelled to keep up with an arbitrary, manufactured standard. Every time I lost power, I lost an opportunity to connect joyfully with another. And isn’t that what makes life worth living?

5. Judgment. I think you don’t deserve it. The implication is that appreciation must be earned; it’s a reward for effort expended. And I get to decide when you’ve done enough to earn it.

6. Expectation. I don’t want to give you acknowledgement because you’re expecting me to. The gift is a given. My appreciation of you isn’t special to you.

7. Fakeness. I fear you’ll perceive my gesture as disingenuous, that I’m patronizing you, and that you’ll reject my gesture.

8. Fear of Rejection. I feel vulnerable when I appreciate, so I won’t acknowledge you if I’m scared you’ll reject my gift.

I recently discovered a study that shed light on why I (and others) acted this way. It appears that we’ve been trained to one-up our peers, even when it defies logic.

A study conducted at the Harvard school of Public Health asked students to choose one of two hypothetical job options:

1) You would make $50K per year, and everyone else would make $25K per year, or
2) You would make $100K per year, and everyone else would make $250K per year.

A whopping 50% of the students chose the option of earning only $50K per year. They were willing to give up half of their income to deny others the option of making more money than them!

This level of cutting off your nose to spite your face absolutely boggled my mind, until I made the connection to how I had shortchanged myself in my closest relationships. I denied myself an experience of joy, simply because I wanted to prevent another from feeling better about themselves. How liberating it was when I let go of that negative behavior pattern!

Today’s Coaching Question: in what ways do you shortchange yourself when you don’t appreciate others?

Author's Bio: 

Judy Widener is a Certified Life Coach and author of Power For A Lifetime: Tools You Customize to Build Your Personal Power Every Day Of Your Life. You can download two chapters of her book at no cost at http://www.myinnerfrontiers.com. Her passion is assisting her clients to discover what is most important to them, then to create more balance and satisfaction in their lives. Empowerment Life Coaching is a comprehensive program that teaches clients simple ways to build their personal power and overcome obstacles to achieving their dreams. Judy has coached more than 600 people over the past 12 years. Her website is http://www.myinnerfrontiers.com.