I love to know that I’m appreciated. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel valued. It makes me feel seen. It gives me a sense of meaning and a deeper connection with the people in my life who are sharing their appreciation of me. In fact, the feel-good hormones it sends around my body feels bloody amazing! And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to feel that? Who wouldn’t want to experience all those wonderful emotions being appreciated generates and ultimately who wouldn’t want to feel that deeper connection with those who are important to us? I love to give appreciations too, it makes me feel enriched and fulfilled. I feel warm knowing the positive impact my gratefulness will have on someone I care deeply for.
Yet, being a couples therapist in Lytham St Annes, it often saddens me when couples first come to see me, and they share that they don’t tell their partner on a regular basis what they love about them. Sometimes they never share this. They have lost sight of what they value in each other and over time they have developed a pattern of putting on blinkers and only seeing the stuff their partner does wrong, the stuff that irritates them and the stuff that creates a disconnect between them. They become critical of each other, and this behaviour in a relationship can become toxic, damaging and is one that erodes away positive connection in a relationship.
When couples come to see me for relationship counselling, ultimately, they want to reconnect. One way I support them in this is by helping them to remove their blinkers and really starting to focus on what they love and appreciate about each other. It could be an act of kindness that really touches them, a personality trait they find endearing, or something they are attracted to in their physical appearance. Developing this into a daily practice begins to build a solid foundation on which they can reconnect with each other. It makes them feel good about themselves and each other and it offers balance to any challenges they may be facing in their relationship.
It’s actually quite emotional to see the response between couples as they begin to really take on board how they are appreciated by their partners. So why not give it a go. Start to focus every day on one thing you appreciate about your partner and as you do, start to enjoy the positive shift in your relationship.
I love the Imago Dialogue to help couples do this… Here’s how it works…
- Pick a time of day where both of you are emotionally available to hear each other.
- Choose a position where you can sit face-to-face.
- Hold hands and establish eye contact and take 3 deep breaths
- Choose one appreciation each and talk about why it’s important to you and how it makes you feel
Now follow these steps! Start with who will share an appreciation first… This person is called the ‘sender’. The person receiving the appreciation is called the ‘receiver’
1. Make and appointment
Sender: I would like to share an appreciation. Is now a good time?
Receiver: Yes, I’m available
2. Begin Dialogue
Sender: One thing I appreciate about you is……….
Receiver: Mirror back word for word what you have heard, check for accuracy by saying ‘Did I get you?’ then ask, ‘Is there more?’ (This then allows your partner to deepen the appreciation by sharing more about it.)
Sender: I especially appreciate this because……
Receiver: Mirror, Check for accuracy. Is there more?
Sender: When I think about this, I feel……
Receiver: Mirror – Check for accuracy – Is there more?
Receiver: In summary you said …… Is that a good summary? (Summarising what you have heard, shows your partner that you were really listening to the meaning of what they were saying)
Sender: Yes, or Almost, but what I really want you to hear is……
Receiver: Mirror the additional part. Check for accuracy
Sender: Thank you for listening
Receiver: Thank you for sharing
5. Switch Roles