Why we need recognition and how to get it from the right places

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

As someone growing her readership, I often receive advice to guest post on larger “platforms” to increase my recognition. You can’t keep showing up for just your own readers and expect to get ahead, they say.

While I have provided guest content when it felt right to me, something holds me back from going hard at seeking guest spots. That may change, but for now I prefer to focus on my readers.

The recognition I desire comes from my audience and those who have trusted me with their email address. I’m more interested in writing something that makes you open and read my emails, than capturing a guest spot on HuffPost.

I’m not writing this to flatter you, but to introduce my topic today which is about recognition. What it means, why it’s important to us, and how it differs from person to person.

It seems obvious that recognition is a basic human need. But it’s important to look at ourselves and know from whom we desire that recognition. So we’re not seeking it in all the wrong places.

What is recognition?

It’s the feeling of wanting to be seen and known. That could come from your husband and family or your boss at work. It doesn’t mean you want to be famous.

I’ve read we crave recognition most from the people we serve. That’s why a compliment from a customer can mean more than one from your manager.

If you’re a mom, nothing feels better than hearing your kids call you a good mom. Other people can praise your parenting all day, but it’s special when the kids acknowledge you this way.

Same when other women call you pretty but you never hear a man say it. This may not pass the PC test, but it’s something many women experience, myself included.

Why do we need it?


You may have convinced yourself you don’t need this type of outside affirmation. And it is better to get the lion’s share of our motivation from within. But we all need a little appreciation and tend to wilt and wither without it.

As a child, you may have felt discouraged from flexing your talents for others to see. You learned to avoid getting too big for your britches. You dimmed your light to become more acceptable to whoever fed you those lies.

When you tell yourself recognition doesn’t matter, cognitive dissonance sets in. This leads to simmering resentment and the martyr syndrome common to mothers of previous generations.

When you tell yourself recognition doesn't matter, it leads to resentment and martyr syndrome. Click To Tweet

We are not made to give selflessly without any acknowledgment of our contributions. When we are recognized by those we serve, we stand a little taller and shine a little brighter.

Ultimately, recognition shows us we’re not alone. As social animals, human beings crave connection with others. Recognition provides proof that we matter and have a purpose that influences others.

What does recognition mean to you?

How to know your values and why they’re so important

Photo by John Tuesday on Unsplash

If you feel unhappy and you’re not sure why, that might mean it’s time to determine your values. For instance, your life looks really good to other people but you feel empty inside.

That’s a sign you’re living according to other people’s standards instead of your own. That happened to me when my children were young and it derailed my life for a very long time.

Unsure of my own values, I went along with other people’s beliefs about the importance of my kids attending a “good” school.

As a result, I moved from a home and neighborhood I loved, to a school district that made me feel uncomfortable and out of place. That’s because a cookie cutter house on a suburban street went against my values.

The impact of not taking time to determine my values as life entered a new phase of motherhood had a devastating impact on my psyche. I discovered too late that “good” school meant “wealthy white” school.

I discovered too late that "good" school meant "wealthy white" school. Click To Tweet

Perhaps that makes me naïve, but I ended up surrounded by parents whose ethics I did not share. For years, I abandoned myself and my needs, all so my kids could attend this sought-after school.

So, take it from me. Save yourself some heartache and get to know your values. Write them down and refer to them often.

And when you enter a new phase of life, reassess those beliefs. Take into account the ways life has changed and how your belief system needs to encompass those changes.

With that said, here are 4 reasons knowing your values is essential to your happiness and well-being.

1. Values help you set boundaries.

Knowing what you believe in helps you decide what you will and won’t accept in your life. It helps you decide what to say yes or no to.

For example, if you value simplicity like I do, you won’t tolerate clutter. That means you prefer a streamlined home and calendar. No fuss no muss.

Valuing simplicity means I carefully weigh every purchase decision. And I’m equally discerning about the appointments and company I keep.

2. Values help you know who you are.

If you can’t name your values it’s difficult to make decisions that align with your true self. This leads to confusion around who you are and what you believe in. See my story above.

3. They improve quality of life.

When you make decisions according to what you believe in, you feel more fulfilled and proud of yourself.

When you make decisions according to what you believe in, you feel more fulfilled and proud of yourself. Click To Tweet

This is because you’re living out of integrity, rather than getting tossed to and fro without an internal compass to guide you.

You’ll spend more time doing things that make you feel good. And the shame that comes from living out of alignment with your values will disappear.

4. Values help you make career choices.

If you cherish freedom, you find yourself suited to an entrepreneurial role where you make your own hours and decisions.

And when you esteem family time, you’ll turn down a position that requires weekend work or extended travel.

If you value peace and harmony, you won’t be happy in an ultracompetitive role with high stress and conflict.

Final thoughts

Values are not right or wrong (outside of unethical activity). They are specific to each person and that’s why it’s important to know yours.

Without the internal compass values provide, we look outside ourselves for clues to mark our route. That means adopting others’ standards and finding out too late they go against our own.

So, take the time now to determine your values. Arm yourself with the self-knowledge that will take you on a life path filled with integrity, fulfillment, and happiness.

How to invest in yourself and what that really means

invest in yourself
Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

You’ve probably heard how important it is to invest in yourself. But what does that really mean?

To invest in yourself does not mean going into debt and crippling yourself financially. Yes, there are times we need to put down money for a later return.

However, investing in yourself does not mean throwing money at expensive objects because you deserve it in a “treat yo self” kind of way. That’s self-sabotage.

Struggling with self-sabotage? Download Chapter 1 of It’s Not Your Fault free.

invest in yourself

Investing in yourself does not always require money, either. Here are 7 ways to invest in yourself smartly.

1. Schedule me time.

Before anything else, you should schedule me time into your calendar. Depending on your personality and stage of life, that looks different for everyone.

It might mean the first hour of your day gets reserved for quiet time and prayer or meditation. It could look like penciling in dinner with friends on a Tuesday night.

Don’t give away your time to everyone else before leaving white space open for yourself.

Don't give away your time to everyone else before leaving white space open for yourself. Click To Tweet

2. Life advice.

Whether with a therapist or life coach, getting professional advice on where you’re headed in life can be a profound way to invest in yourself.

Even though the dividends come in how you feel rather than cold hard cash, you prove to yourself you’re worth the expense.

And often what you learn about yourself raises your value, which can result in more money coming your way.

3. Career advice.

Most successful business people say they only got to the next level by hiring a coach. We need the expertise of others who are where we want to be.

Investing in yourself this way can be hard because there’s no guarantee of results. But I can attest to growing in leaps and bounds after just one 60-minute coaching call with a professional.

4. Take up a hobby.

invest in yourself

All work and no play leads to an unbalanced life. We need time to reconnect with our playful and creative sides. To nurture skills without the pressure of making money or being “productive”.

Hobbies help us remember what lights us up inside. They tell us that we’re worthy of spending time on, even when we’re not earning monetarily.

5. Get a good night’s sleep.

We have so many excuses for not getting enough rest. But sleep is as important to our bodies as food. When we deny ourselves at least 7 hours, we’re depriving ourselves of the very thing that gives us life.

And seven hours may not be enough. Highly sensitive people, for instance, need more than eight hours to feel “right”. I’m an HSP and have discovered that nine hours a night is my sweet spot.

6. Develop yourself.

This could mean attending a personal growth seminar. Or reading books in the self-help category.

You’ll discover so much about yourself when you get curious and invest in yourself through trainings that build your self-development muscle.

7. Take a vacation.

At the time of this writing, barriers to travel prevent many of us from attacking that bucket list. But when possible, plan a vacation somewhere you’ve never been before.

Some people say it’s a good idea to visit somewhere new every year. But, you can visit a familiar place with fresh eyes by creating a theme for your trip.

What other ways do you invest in yourself?

Why a done list is more important than to-do lists and how to create one

done list
Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

We live in a society that values productivity more than anything else. Maybe you’ve become mired in to-do lists and derive your value from checking off items. But have you tried a done list?

A done list reminds you of what you’ve achieved rather than what you have yet to do. Sometimes we forget to give ourselves a pat on the back for all the little things we do.

We wait until we reach the monumental goal before celebrating. And, even then, we shrug and move on to the next big thing.

If you grew up without hearing praise or encouragement, celebrating small wins won’t come naturally. You have trouble believing anything you’ve done is good enough.

If you grew up without hearing praise or encouragement, celebrating small wins won't come naturally. Click To Tweet

You likely struggle to relax and unwind. That’s because your parents never gave you the pat on the back that indicated a job well done. As a result, your off switch which helps you power down is broken.

Struggling with self-sabotage? Download Chapter 1 of It’s Not Your Fault free.

Part of the self-parenting process is giving ourselves the recognition we missed growing up. This is where a done list comes in. Not to replace the to-do list, but enhance it.

Why the done list is so important

1. It improves your mood.

You may think crossing items off your to-do list makes you happy. And, there is a certain satisfaction to getting things done.

But when you don’t celebrate those wins, life becomes a mountain climbing expedition with no reprieve.

When you acknowledge small accomplishments, you feel better about yourself. Instead of falling behind, you see how far you’ve come.

2. It increases confidence.

When you set goals, you’ll inevitably reach the end of a month without achieving all of them. And, like the missing ceiling tile, we focus on the one or two things left undone.

But when you look back at your goals and write down the ones you did accomplish, it’s uplifting. It makes you feel good about yourself. Because many of those goals seemed difficult to attain at the time you set them.

3. It helps you relax

A done list is different than a to-do list with checkmarks. If you take stock at the end of a day or week, you’ll see how many things you had to do that were not on your list.

You’ll go easier on yourself when you realize distractions and dealing with emergencies are part of life. You may find there are too many items on your to-do list. Reducing the number to a manageable amount will bring peace and sanity.

4. It brings clarity

A done list can help you see what you enjoy and what you’re good at. If the same things aren’t getting done week after week, that could mean you’re avoiding them.

The things on your done list are often things that come easily because that’s where your talents lie. You might realize, as I did, that you’re better off outsourcing those undone tasks.

How to create a done list

As you go through your day, make a list of all the things you did, whether or not they were on your to-do list. Give yourself credit for what you completed and accomplished.

Often we treat tasks outside our official to-do list as if they don’t count. But the fires we put out daily are not mere distractions from our real lives. They are life itself.

Acknowledge yourself for taking care of them and never again say, “I got nothing done today”.

Acknowledge yourself for tasks outside your to-do list and never again say, "I got nothing done today". Click To Tweet

Do you set weekly or monthly goals? At the end of that period, pay attention to the ones you achieved instead of dwelling on those you didn’t.

Celebrate your accomplishments and notice whether they represent tasks you enjoy and which use your skills and talents. Consider enlisting help for the jobs you keep putting off.

That means asking for help or paying someone to complete the task professionally. Now, you can add stretching outside your comfort zone to your done list, and celebrate that, too.

5 signs of self abandonment and how to overcome

self abandonment
Photo by Jenna Day on Unsplash

Do you struggle with self abandonment? That means you have a habit of doing what other people want and have trouble discerning your own desires.

You may be so used to abandoning yourself, you don’t realize you’re doing it. Read on to discover 5 signs you self abandon, and the most likely reason you do.

1. Poor self care

Your body shows signs of needing rest but you push through anyway. You need time alone but you don’t take it or even ask for it.

Struggling with self-sabotage? Download Chapter 1 of It’s Not Your Fault free.

2. Putting others’ needs ahead of your own

You don’t have the energy to listen to someone vent but you let them do it anyway. And you never ask them to reciprocate by listening to your problems.

You wouldn’t share those problems anyway because you don’t want to come across as a burden.

You don't have the energy to listen to someone vent but you let them do it anyway. Click To Tweet

3. Giving up on your dreams

Deciding to stop pursuing a passion because it’s not working is one thing. But self abandonment means you stop because of what other people think or say.

You can’t tolerate disapproval of your desires so you give them up. You’d sooner let your dreams die than risk challenging cultural norms.

4. Uncertainty over your likes and dislikes

self abandonment

As a result of giving so little attention to your own needs, you lose touch with them. You may be so used to doing what other people want, you forget what you like and don’t like.

An example is the mom who goes grocery shopping after her kids have flown the nest. She has no idea what to buy when her decisions are no longer dictated by other peoples’ desires.

5. Difficulty making decisions

You’d prefer that others make the decisions because you don’t trust your own judgment. When you do make a decision, you second-guess yourself.

You overthink things to the point of “analysis paralysis” which delays decision-making, sometimes indefinitely.

What causes self abandonment?

For most of us, self abandonment happens as a result of unmet childhood needs. If your parents never took care of your physical or emotional needs, you won’t, either.

Living with the pain of unmet needs feels familiar. So, you stay in a situation that looks like “home” to you. The one where other people’s needs come before yours. Even when they’re strangers.

Living with the pain of unmet needs feels familiar. So, you stay in a situation that looks like "home" to you. Click To Tweet

You have no blueprint for having your needs met. And since our refusal to meet our own needs is subconscious, we have trouble knowing how to correct the problem.

You may feel like you want something very much. But suffering the disapproval of others to get it is unthinkable. That life or death fear of rejection is different than the normal sting we hear about in self-help material.

As children, our parents abandonment (whether physical or emotional) felt life-threatening. They were our lifeline, our only hope for survival.

We deduced early on that displeasing them put our lives at stake. So, the healthy inward-looking nature of a child that helps them discover themselves, explore, and grow, gets thwarted.

In its place develops an outward looking creature desperate to please, first its parents, and later anyone in front of them. It feels very much like a matter of survival in a way that chasing our dreams does not.

Self abandonment is self protection

Give yourself a pat on the back for taking care of you the only way you knew how. You kept yourself safe by doing your best to assuage your parents negativity (and later, others).

Now that you know better, you can learn to reparent yourself. That means checking in with yourself to see what you need. Then meeting those needs yourself.

You’ll learn to set boundaries that let other people know what you want and don’t want. And you’ll see their respect for you, and your own self-worth, skyrocket.

If you’re interested in living life free from the pain of self abandonment, join the wait list for The Self-Parenting Solution. It’s an online course that takes you from self-abandoner to compassionate self-advocate in eight short lessons.