There are two words in the English language which have an almost magical power. They make us feel appreciated and valued, they bring a smile to people’s faces and they can completely change the energy between two people.
We can use them with our family; we can use them with our friends; we can use them with complete strangers and make somebody’s day. These words are already effective when said lightly in the passing. But when we put the entire energy of our feelings behind what we are saying, they are like a key which can open anybody’s heart. The more coherent our body language and verbal communication is, the more powerful their effect. “Thank you” goes a very long way. “Thank you” connects and builds bridges. “Thank you” brings out the best in all of us.
Sometimes we get stuck in feeling so unappreciated by others that we forget to thank them or feel stubborn about thanking them. However, these words open up the doors for greater appreciation on both sides. What if we said thank you to our parents and step-parents and to our children, to our siblings and even to our ex-partners? Let’s not stop at saying thank you to those people who we already find so easy to love. Let’s say thank you to those people we feel judged by or unloved by. Perhaps one reason why they are angry at us is that they feel unappreciated.
Many of my relationships are strong due to love and appreciation. My children use every celebration or other opportunity to say thank you for all I have done for them. Their words come straight from their heart. That acknowledgment makes me want to do more for them, give them all I possibly can. I know that they appreciate the quality time we spend together and the financial expenses that come hand-in-hand with raising them. My ex-husband and I are thankful for the mutual flexibility and good communication we extend toward each other. It has taken work to arrive at this point. Knowing that we appreciate the other greatly as a co-parent makes us want to be even better co-parents.
Yet, I have one extended family member who I haven’t said thank you to in a long time. I have been stuck in judgment for this person, only aware of what I don’t like about her. Of course, I know that what I judge about her is exactly something she mirrors for me; it’s an energy which exists in my shadow, and therefore an energy I need to work with and embrace.
It is time to stop my judgments and feelings of dislike and reach out with a simple thank you for all she has done, whether I liked how she has done it or not. I will need to sit down and really put myself in her shoes to appreciate all her efforts and how difficult things have been for her. We all have our own interpretation, our own story about ourselves, the people around us, and the situations we find ourselves in. I am sure she has hers. I certainly have mine, and I don’t doubt that our stories vary greatly. Saying thank you means going beyond these stories of right and wrong.
When did you last say thank you to the parent or step-parent you have judged your entire life long, but who has done his or her best? When did you last tell the partner who we so easily take for granted that you are grateful for their support, which they show in so many different ways? When did you last let your sister or brother know that you appreciate them and their role in the family?
Do you find it hard to do this in-person? Then write a letter or an e-mail simply saying thanks. Don’t expect anything in return. Do it just because. Do it because this world needs more appreciation and gratitude from all of us.
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Relationship Coaching, Shadow Work, Belief Change Coaching