THE HUMAN NEED FOR APPRECIATION
Every human being started somewhere! We were born into this world, in some place, at some time, through our mother. Many, sometimes from the word go, were left motherless, fatherless, whether through bereavement, neglect, circumstances out of the control of our natural parents. Indeed many are the reasons for leaving a child as an orphan.
Our upbringing, healthy or otherwise, has left us, regardless of what form it took, greatly influenced by the values of those around us. Nearest relatives, friends, schooling, neighbours, authority figures, club members, organisations, have all left their mark upon our minds and emotions.
But there is one unalterable need within every human being. It is the need to be appreciated.
This need is an extremely strong one. It is a need that is often hidden from view. It is a need that drives us in all kinds of directions. Driven to have that need met, humans engage in all kinds of activities. We take on all kinds of mental attitudes, we attempt all kinds of different things, we relate to all kinds of different people, we ‘experiment’ with all sorts of ‘experiences’ all in an attempt to fulfil our need for appreciation.
We are unaware that this is our motivation in many of the choices we make and in many of the things we do. We love to be appreciated. We love to be praised. We love others to love us and think us wonderful human beings. Wonderful to be around. We like to be admired in our physical appearance, we love to be admired for our ability, praised for our skill. ‘Well done!’ are words sweet to our ears.
Often due to other influencing factors – often of a negative nature – we will not admit to ourselves that this admiration is indeed the thing we crave.
Your suggestion impresses and sends ripples of appreciation through the group you are relating to. You feel good as a result. And feeling good you are quick to offer more suggestions, in order once again to get that round of ‘applause’.
The actor, the singer, the musician, the painter, the politician, the lecturer, the comedian, the footballer, the sportsperson, all love the appreciation shown by the crowd.
This is such a motivational influence in our lives, that it is difficult to find any activity that relates to other people, that does not have this motivation behind it.
The unfortunate thing is that other human beings cannot consistently appreciate us without fail.
Today they will praise us, and tomorrow criticise. Today they will admire us, and tomorrow after we do something else – other than what pleases them – they return us an air of indifference.
From an early age many do not get that appreciation. In fact the opposite is true. From an early age they suffer rejection, condemnation, neglect, they are starved of affection. From all sides it seems they are assailed with the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’.
‘You’re no good – never have been.’ ‘You’re stupid’. ‘What a clown!’ ‘Idiot’ ‘You’re hopeless at that – do yourself a favour and give up’ ‘You’re an ugly duckling’.
You were the one who didn’t get kissed when the music stopped, that night at the formal when playing that music game. You know that one – what’s it called? Anyway you kiss the girl you stop opposite to, when the music stops. But she turns away.
‘Skinny-ma-link melodeon legs, big banana feet’. You are the one who didn’t get picked until the last, when the two sides were chosen for the kick-about football match.
‘Your fat and stupid’ – as though physical size had anything to do with intelligence.
You tried to help mother with setting the table – ‘What did you put the spoons here for you dodo?’
This kind of language was the language you grew up with? So used to it, did you become – that you too, started to use it with your kids. Thus perpetually the ‘non-appreciation’ society maintained its members.
In fact you are so used to this kind of language and this rejection, – that anything that comes your way by way of genuine praise – you are unable to ‘compute’. What is this strange language of praise – ‘are you talking to me?’
So you remain in or withdraw into your shell. The shell of protection you have built-up over the years. The shell that has a compartment into which you shove the rejection. The wardrobe of the mind in which you store up all the words of rejection and non-appreciation. You affirm after all that ‘This is just the way life is’. But I will get on with it – I will live for myself in order to escape and survive.
In the absence of appreciation – what is there? Survival? Incompleteness or ruin? A mind scarred so many times that it no longer expects anything else, a mind that has given up even looking for it. Humans have rejected you so often, that now you don’t know how to handle verbalised appreciation from others.
What about this ‘being appreciated’? What can we make of it?
What actually is it? ‘You did a great job papering that wall – much appreciated, thank you’
How does the paper-hanger feel after that well deserved praise and appreciation? What does he or she get out of that?
Well firstly, the satisfaction of having done a good job. Try appreciating your own work from time to time.
What else could they possibly get?
What about a sense of being loved? So – two-fold appreciation in yourself because of the work of your hands, and a sense of well-being that another person has appreciated you being around.
Some have trained themselves (maybe a salesperson) to verbalise appreciation and praise to all and sundry. Sometimes, however it is just words. Perhaps some kind of technique learnt in the psychology seminars?
Such appreciative words will do the job. The person on the receiving end will feel appreciated, but there may be a nagging suspicion that it isn’t genuinely expressed, but is done to create an ‘effect’.
However the person – so long not appreciated – finds it difficult to receive even genuine appreciation expressed through others.
Appreciation expressed to you creates a ‘feeling’ of being loved. The appreciation expressed can create a desire to start or continue a relationship with the person advancing the appreciative words. Appreciation can be shown by small actions too. Shown through a hug, pat on the back, or shake of the hands.
Mutual appreciation comes into play at the beginning and continuance of different types of relationship, parent and child, teacher and pupil, team members, girlfriend and boyfriend, husband and wife, employer and employee, and so on.
This can form attachments that last for years.
Some relationships are held together by blood, or circumstance. But they can be void of genuine appreciation. Such as ‘Marriages of convenience’ as they are called. The step-parent scenario where the step-parent has come into the life of the child, who has no say in the matter.
There are other scenarios were circumstances throw people together, and they tolerate one another, rather than appreciate one another.
But this basic human need for appreciation is the motivation behind many actions we take, many deeds we perform, many words we say, and so on.
We can be quite unconscious of this fact. The guitar player and singer who loves playing music wants to play in the company of people, because he wants the acceptance and the appreciation. He or she is saying ‘you are going to love me after this’.
Unfortunately for many of us this need for appreciation has not been met throughout childhood. So there can be many scars of rejection, that has produced layers of hurt, that has produced a certain ‘mentality’ within the person rejected. Coping with the hurt, has meant that solace is sought in many negative directions.
There can be a turning to the things of the flesh to find comfort. Comfort for the lack of balanced appreciation they should have received from healthy relationships. Comfort sought elsewhere, to compensate for the lack of appreciative relationships.
There is inner, underlying pain. To cope with this – comfort is sought, often not in genuine friendship, where mutual appreciation creates healthy relationships.
But rather it is sought in all kinds of different directions. Such as alcohol, material possessions, drug abuse, success in the varying fields of life’s activities. Comfort from the crowd for the performer of whatever kind. Many in the public eye who perform to please, afterwards are deflated to the point where, the instant gratification of the crowd of strangers, because it is not happening the next day – means they seek for the gratification elsewhere or in something else.
Layers of subconscious unresolved thoughts produced as a result of feeling unappreciated or rejected, can be in our lives.
These thoughts can consist of bad memories, that re-surface to create distress. These thoughts can be the thought patterns of defensiveness towards the unappreciative crowd around us – real and imaginary.
We have these thoughts, they can dominate us, producing negative emotions, and actions
These thoughts are imbedded, we think them, and act on them, and they produce our behaviour patterns. How we react in given situations. How we view others that come across our paths, can be the result of learnt thought patterns, held on to negatively, because we have been treated negatively.
As human beings in need of a saviour, one who will love and appreciate us, we nonetheless take the substitute rather than the real thing.
Help begins, by acknowledging our plight. And reaching in prayer for Christ’s help.
God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son to provide a way back into relationship with Him. That relationship was lost, therefore the mutual appreciation of a two-way relationship between God and man is also lost.
The damaged lives through the damaged minds and emotions resulting from being bombarded with rejection or starved of appreciative love, need more than a therapy session to put things right.
We need the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit to renew us in the spirit of our minds, on a daily basis.
For this to happen, acting on the fact that God appreciates us enough to allow His Son to suffer on a cross, – we begin to embrace His salvation. We take on board the words of His truth. We embrace the fact that He appreciates us, and for each small step we take to allow His thoughts to enter our minds – he encourages us with an appreciative embrace in the Holy Spirit.
The renewing of the mind, after acceptance of Christ as saviour, comes through meditation on the Word of God.
It comes through prayer and fellowship with The Lord Jesus Christ, as revealed to us by the ever-present Holy Spirit, who comes and takes up His abode in the repentant sinners life.
In – that we did much of what we did – in expectation of appreciation, but met rejection instead. We need to find a way to be correctly motivated, in the absence of the appreciation of others.
This appreciation will not always come. Yet we need it as human beings. It is part of our make-up to need it.
When the writer writes his book to poor critical acclaim. He is faced with a challenge. The challenge is: how to deal with the ‘feeling’ of rejection.
It can also be how to deal with the silence of no response.
As the work is put out there, and with fearful anticipation, the artist awaits the public reception of the work, a state of anxiety can be entered into.
We are ready to defend ourselves. We call it being sensitive. The sensitive artist. Each one seeks to find his own way to handle his rejection.
How often did Van Gogh, experience this lack of appreciation? His love also rejected by women. He was thought of as an ‘odd ball’. Gauguin eventually had enough and left, the dreamt of ‘artists colony’ of shared bliss, never came to pass. Van Gogh’s work was rejected, so was he.
What can we do with this lack of appreciation?
If only we could find someone who appreciated us all of the time!
Enter – The Lord Jesus Christ – who’s unconditional love is of a higher order than any love we know or experience through ‘human’ nature. It is a love that passes our limited human knowledge – it goes beyond the realm of science – it will not be experienced in any other way except as the Holy Spirit imparts it.
This great love is clearly demonstrated in action, as the pure, sinless Son of God lays down His life for humanity.
But it is experienced inside us, only as the Holy Spirit ‘sheds’ that love abroad in the hearts of men and women who will come to receive it.
This love is experienced as the Holy Spirit lifts us in spirit, into the spiritual realm of revelation, into the kingdom of God, into an altered state of being – absolutely nothing to do with drug-induced pseudo substitutes, – only this agape love of Christ will capture our hearts and eternally satisfy our need to be loved and appreciated.
God appreciates me for who I am. Not because I have earned His love – but because His nature is such that He must love!
God is love. Love and appreciation are partners. Out of love comes appreciation. Out of love comes an expression that includes appreciation of other human beings.
We all understand the expression: ‘The honeymoon period’, where two people ‘in love’ – seem to be unable to see the faults of the one they have a relationship with.
The emotional high they are experiencing – that emotional state where we are aware of strong feelings, but perhaps unable to recognise the thoughts that are producing them, seems to overrule every observable weakness in their loved one. Is love blind? A question to be answered.
There are honeymoon periods for all relationships. Whether two people are romantically engaged, or whether a new situation in life transpires, where new friends are made – in work, in rest, or in play – the honeymoon period is that time of being new-fangled, enamoured…
Appreciation can be short lived, diving to a great low, and often resulting in separation, regardless of what kind of relationship. The work place, the team, the band, the class, the newly received gift, the new house, the new car and so and so on.
The workers ‘fall out’, the team no longer sees eye to eye, the band breaks-up, the class finishes, the new gift is out of date, the new house becomes claustrophobic, the new car starts to break down.
All of these relationships are experienced or carried in the honeymoon period, before they start to erode.
The new car begins to receive scratches and the novelty wears off, leaving the honeymoon period behind – it is replaced by a new season of familiarity and often neglect.
So the ‘honeymoon period’ is usually one of intense emotion. Out of that intense emotion comes appreciation.
But what happens when the emotion (our feelings) are on the receiving end of the faults and failures of the other person in the relationship?
Slowly but surely their faults are manifest. Their shortcomings in word or in deed come to the surface. You admired them yesterday – what about today? What has changed? Where’s the appreciation now?
God’s love has not changed. He must love. But He hates sin.
It is beyond our comprehension – how much pain Christ has suffered. It is beyond our comprehension how God can still love unconditionally – when mankind refuses to stop grieving Him and quenching Him with their behaviour.
Yet we can partake of Christ’s character, and experience and appreciate how much He loves us, maintaining our appreciation of His love by faith. Similarly His love enables us to have this faith, as agape love believes all things.
Suddenly if we can grasp this, the appreciation vacuum in our lives is filled.
If God be FOR us – who can be against us? If the ultimate creator of the universe is on our side, then how can lesser beings make any difference to our sense of appreciation?
How easy it is to forget that God loves us. Sometimes a simple mental reminder is all we need to steady us, after negative experiences where we experience anything but appreciation from others.
Just a simple bringing to remembrance – that God is FOR us. Let’s take it by faith, and allow the feelings to follow.
Now a new motivation comes into our lives. We appreciate Jesus, and serving Him, we encounter how much He appreciates us. But it is not a twenty-four hour feeling state of ‘ecstasy’. Someone has said that firstly God allows us to feel His love, thereafter He wants us to believe in His love.
This love of God enables us to go without the appreciation of others. Even though it is nice to get their appreciation, nevertheless when it is absent, we are still motivated, and living in peace and rest.
There is a need for appreciation in every human being. However, Jesus was despised and rejected by men, He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. How did His sense of appreciation fare? He who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself – how much appreciation did He receive?
Well He first – lived out – the truth that if we have God’s appreciation, then we are motivated and equipped to do good, and to continue when the appreciation of others is not only unavailable to us, but on the contrary their rejection is ringing in our ears.
‘This is My Beloved son in whom I am well pleased’ came the voice of The Heavenly Father echoing down to earth, affirming that His son was greatly appreciated by His Father.
This voice from the Presence of God’s glory – sustained the Son of God through all He had to face and go through in order to fulfil all the good pleasure of The Father’s will on earth.
The joy of obeying the Father, of pleasing the Father, of hearing and carrying out the Father’s will was enough to sustain the Son of God, regardless of His circumstances.
Mankind will praise us today, and erase us tomorrow.
The answer to the world’s rejection, is to find the Father’s acceptance.
Much of these considerations can remain in the realm of theory, theological theory. Unless we seek intimacy with Our Heavenly Father.
Without faith it is impossible to please Him. So we begin by believing and accepting that God loves and appreciates us.
He appreciates any move towards knowing Him, and so seeking a deeper relationship.
This is the foremost reason He created us: To walk with Him in fellowship with mutual love and appreciation found and realised through praying in faith.
The great divine facts should motivate us to seek God. It’s also true to say that often we don’t appreciate ourselves.
We have a limited acceptance of ourselves. At times of low self-acceptance, we need to come before God and thank Him for the fact that He appreciates us. And to our surprise, He responds with – Amen! Yes I do appreciate you!
The bible teaches that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. Picture God smiling at you, rather than the frown we imagine He has towards us. It is our own picture of ourselves often borne out of our own disappointments with ourselves that we carry, which produces our mis-conception of how God thinks of us.
If you have had little to no appreciation shown to you because of your upbringing. Bring up in your mind the scriptures that express God’s love and appreciation for you.
You are complete in Christ (If you have met Him?).
Christian you are more than a conqueror through Him who loves you and gave Himself for you. He has already raised you up (if you are a Christian) and made you to sit with Him – spiritually – in heavenly places. Nothing shall separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
Of course – we need to be appreciated, it makes life worthwhile – to give and receive love.
To give and receive appreciation.
But all things are of God. He is the source and supply of the Divine nature that has every good and perfect gift in His make-up.
Salvation is the gift of God. God supplies what we lack. He supplies all our NEED (singular) according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. We trust that what He said is both true and applicable to our daily lives. We think on it, we act on it.
What do you need? God’s appreciative glance is upon you as we speak.
When ‘instant coffee’ prayer answers don’t come our way. Don’t let this taint your acceptance of the fact that God is for you.
He who spared not His only Son, but delivered Him up for us all – how shall he not much more, with Him, freely give us all things.
We must get past our own ingrained, negatively cultivated mentality that leaves us feeling and thinking we are not appreciated.
When we do make mistakes (and we will) our self-appreciation spirals to zero on our internal scale.
We ‘feel’ totally unworthy. And of course we shouldn’t feel good about failing God.
But allow your sorrow to be Godly. And allow it to lead you to change your mind in accordance with the word of God.
Don’t take on board an image of yourself that just isn’t true – isn’t true based on the exceedingly great and precious promises that God has given to us to enable us to do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
He that comes to me I will in no way cast out. Sure, mistakes – are mistakes. Let’s not pretend that our sin is somehow acceptable with The Lord.
But likewise let’s not allow our sin and lack of self-appreciation hinder us from coming before Him in confession and in faith and in rejoicing over the fact that He is with us and is coming closer to us with a fresh supply of unmerited favour. ‘My favour is waiting your return and embrace’ (Think of the Prodigal son).
‘Here receive my fresh infilling, – just wait before me in prayer, until I strengthen you with all might according to my glorious power in the inner man!’