Monday, September 16, 2013

Love and Closeness Challenge #6: Acknowledgment

Human beings, in varying degrees, all have the need to be seen. We all want to be acknowledged. This is a basic need for everyone from the smallest of children to the oldest of the old. When we don't feel acknowledged, we don't feel loved. I recently wrote a post about learning to speak the other person's love language. While it's true that we all have ways that we prefer to have love shown to us, really what we want is for someone to notice that we are there and we hope that they are happy that we are there. However, we would rather fight and cause discord rather than not be seen. To be invisible, to feel as if you don't matter is an awful feeling. 
Children that are neglected perform significantly lower academically. They also present the highest rate of disciplinary problems according to American Psychological Association. The Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research studied three groups of abused and/or neglected children and a matched group of children that have no history of maltreatment on three tests of language comprehension. Severely neglected children obtained the lowest scores on language comprehension, even lower than children that have been physically abused. This article posted by Ching-Tung Wang, Ph.D. and John Holton, Ph.D. says that neglected children are much more likely to be in poor physical health, experiencing chronic fatigue, altered immune function, hypertension,
 obesity and even sexually transmitted diseases. They are much more likely to be in poor emotional and mental health as well. Children that are neglected have higher rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and attempts, post-traumatic stress disorder. They have social difficulties such as insecure attachments with caregivers, which may lead to difficulties in developing trusting relationships with peers and adults later in life.
Their cognitive functions are not as high as their well-taken-care-of peers either. They engage in high-risk health behaviors such as a more sexual partners, losing their virginity at a younger age, substance abuse, aggression and criminal behaviors. 
Children aren't the only ones effected by neglect. Marriages are effected by neglect as well. iMom lists the top 10 reasons separated couples gave for their divorce. The number one reason that couples gave for getting divorced is growing apart and number five is not getting enough attention.  In other words, they are not being acknowledged. If you don't want to separate from your partner, this is important for you to know. He wants to be acknowledged. 
As I've mentioned in many previous posts, the ultimate intention is to always increase the warm feelings of love and closeness that you feel about your loved ones. I hope that you can keep this in mind as you interact with all of the people in your life. This is the single most important thing that you can do in any relationship because when you feel warmth, closeness and love for another your words and behaviors will reflect that. 
If you want to increase warm love and closeness in your relationship this will require that you acknowledge your mate. You "see" him and notice what he says and does. Some ideas to get you started on the path to acknowledging him every single day:

  1. Communicate with him openly. Let him know in a loving way what's on your mind. Remember to listen fully, as if what he is telling you is the most important secret in the universe. This is the advice of Michael Beckwith. He says this kind of deep listening is healing. He says that many of us have never been listened to in that way. 
  2. I believe in taking 100% responsibility for your own happiness, but sometimes you can ask for help from others. This is loving if what you are asking for will help you to feel good and be more loving in return and is asked in the right way. You can build your mate up first by telling him how good he is at what it is you are asking him to do, or how good it made you feel last time he did it or how it saved you a hassle. This isn't manipulation, it's giving him the some of the fifteen a's: admiration, appreciation and acknowledgment. Ask him when you're both in good moods and feeling good about each other. This is absolutely not manipulation. You aren't schmoozing him to try and get something. You are making a request for love to help you fill up your love cup so that you can give more. The most important thing when making a request: be okay if he refuses. If he says no, do what you can to meet your own need and move on to happiness as quickly as possible. Be courteous, respectful and kind. It's interesting that we sometimes treat strangers and house guests better than we do the people we love. What would happen if you treated your mate better than anyone else in your life? 
  3. Demonstrate your belief in him. If you treat someone as he could be, he will rise up to meet the standards you have. Encouragement is always the way to go. No one ever learns love from punishment, they learn fear and how to avoid the source of pain. The truth is: he is just as capable as anyone else and his hopes and dreams have as much validity as yours. He can achieve anything he sets his mind to. We encourage children every step of the way as they are learning. Then they grow up and suddenly it's as if they aren't worthy of this. Don't fall into the trap of this. He may be a grown man, but when someone believes in you it feels incredible no matter how old you are. Remind him of his gifts, his abilities and his past successes and be there to listen when he shares his dreams with you. If he makes a mistake or messes something up, remind him that it has nothing to do with who he is. Everyone makes mistakes. Failure is the only way we can learn how to succeed. Be his biggest supporter, not only of what he does, but in what he dreams of doing, who he is as a person and in the goodness of him.
  4. Which brings us to the next thing you can do to acknowledge him: see the best in him. Catch him in the act of doing well. This goes beyond positive reinforcement to try and reward the behaviors you'd like to see him repeat. When he deals with a difficult situation at work with calm action, tell him you're proud of him. It doesn't matter if it has nothing to do with you or your relationship.
  5. Be a we. When talking to him or others use the words "we" and "ours". Acknowledge him as your mate when you are with him and when you are not. Put him first and make sure that he knows that is where he will always stay.
  6. Spend some time with him. Make sure that it's a time that he isn't distracted. Take time to talk or do something together. It doesn't matter how busy you are, there is always time. If he asks you if you want to run an errand to the hardware store with him, even if you hate the hardware store, go. Turn it into bonding time. Build positive moments every chance you get.   
  7. Touch him in small, warm and affectionate ways throughout the day, even if you are busy. Remember occasions and give tiny, meaningful gifts. It doesn't matter what it is, and it doesn't even have to be a special occasion. Be playful and make up an occasion. Buy him a blindfold and tell him it's "National Kinky Sex Day". 
  8. Think of something that he has requested that you do for him recently. You may have to really reflect on this, sometimes requests aren't obvious. You may have to think of his complaints if you can't think of something that he has requested of you. Even if it's small or doesn't matter to you at all, DO IT

Your challenge today: do at least one of the above in a way that you know will increase love and closeness and make your mate feel good. It's all about the good feelings.  



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