The Secret to Being Appreciated

Do you ever notice that certain compliments mean more to you than others? Some people feel great when they get complimented on their clothes, their hair or their shoes. Others love to be complimented on their children, their home or special projects they’ve worked on. What’s the best compliment a person can give you? (Think about it. It will tell you a lot about yourself and your values.)

I bring this up because I was having lunch with a friend yesterday and she paid me a compliment that really brightened my day. She told me I was one of the few friends she had that didn’t make her feel judged. It really hit a sweet spot for me because I know what it feels like to be around people who judge me, and I also know what it feels like to be in the company of those that accept me (flaws and all).

Lately I’ve noticed that the less judgmental I am, the more I gravitate away from judgmental people – and attract those that are more accepting. And it feels so good because it frees me up to be myself around them. So liberating! I find I allow myself to be more vulnerable and less filtered, which, for me, is a good thing. It’s what gives me the courage to write honest blog posts (like this one). And helped me create deeper, more authentic relationships.

What would you attempt if you weren’t worried about being judged?

I’ve judged people in the past, and I’m ashamed and embarrassed by it. It’s something I first had to become aware of and then work really hard on changing. It’s an ongoing challenge because, frankly, I think it’s part of my DNA. I grew up in a ‘what would people think’ environment where we had to dress up and clean up before we could present our public (and seemingly perfect) persona to the world.

One thing that really helped me to be less judgmental and more accepting is my life coaching practice. I talk to people from all walks of life. People open up to me and I really get to know them over the weeks or months that we work together. I have come to understand what people are going through in different situations. I’ve realized that everyone is doing their best, but we all fail sometimes – and despite that, we are still good people. No one is superior to anyone. I’m indebted to my clients for this learning. It has changed my life and made me a happier person. And it can do the same for you.

Notice when you find yourself judging. It’s not ‘bad’, it just gets in the way, so go easy on yourself. What’s causing the judging? Assumptions? Unrealistic expectations? Can you ask more questions so you can truly understand what the person is going through? Just the gift of listening helps others feel accepted. (And when I say ‘listening’, I don’t mean giving advice.) Imagine yourself in their situation. What would you need? Maybe they need that too. What can you learn from them?

Another thing that seems to help me suspend judging is to imagine everyone as my puppy, Mila. She chews my shoes, whines in the middle of the night and sometimes has accidents on the new hardwood floors…but I love her anyway. And gosh darn it, she loves me back!

Meet Mila, our new puppy.

Meet Mila, our new puppy.

You may discover, as I did, that the less you judge others, the more you’ll find to appreciate about them. And the more you’ll attract people that appreciate you.

As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’m really curious about how this topic resonated with you. Remember, we can all learn from each other.

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This post has 3 comments

  • This is a very thought provoking article, Hellen. While I may not judge others verbally, I do find myself doing it mentally on occasion. It’s a hard thing not to do because like you said, it’s part of our DNA. Growing up, there were times it seemed like it was a normal part of everyday conversation.

    I do like your idea of pretending the person is your puppy. That definitely puts a different take on how one would perceive someone else.

    Thank you for posting this, and Mila is a beautiful puppy, btw. 🙂

  • Wanda says:

    Hi Hellen:

    Wow! Did this ever resonate with me – to the point of bringing me to tears. I thought I was doing pretty well at being non-judgmental, but I guess it helps to have reminders that life is a journey, not static. We have our ups & downs, are affected by those around us & life events, & are constantly changing, even if we are unaware of it.
    It is also too easy to get caught up in the pervasive negativity which seems to surround us eg. the news, income disparity, lack of good paying jobs, floods, Ebola, our own life challenges, etc., etc., etc. It is amazing the subtle way in which we are affected by these things, including becoming more judgemental.

    Thank-you so much for this blog – it’s got me examining my current behaviour, especially to those close to me, & reminding me to look for the positives in life & continue to work on bringing them into my life & my interactions with others.

    Congratulations on the new addition to your family – what a cutie!!! As an animal lover whose family currently includes a companion dog, I can certainly attest to the example he gives of being non-judgmental. He can be my reminder.

    Thank-you for your support. Best wishes in all your endeavours.

    Sincerely, Wanda

  • Sybil says:

    Thank you for your courageous comments.

    Replacing negative judgement with compassion is something I have been working on for years, and the struggle continues. I find that it’s not the actual judgement that’s the problem – I judge / evaluate people all the time. I know which of my friends is super intelligent, funny, kind, generous, etc. I also know who has a problem with tidiness, stinginess, work ethic, and so on. All of us have flaws. It’s when I condemn others for theirs that the difficulty exists. I also find that when I notice a lack of compassion for others’ differences or flaws, it’s information that I need to check on my own feelings of self worth. The two seem to be highly correlated.

    Congratulations on the new addition to your family. I am about to become the parent of a year old dog, my first one, and can hardly wait. I know he will teach me a lot. I just was directed a wonderful book on relationships between people and dogs called “Bones Would Rain from the Sky” by Suzanne Clothier. It is one of the most delightfully spiritual, heart-warming books I have ever read and I a certain you would enjoy it. I would recommend it even for people who are not pet parents.