You scrimp, you save. You wash dishes, mop floors, endlessly pick up dropped sweaters, backpacks, skateboards, CDs, dirty dishes. You help with homework, chauffeur regardless of how tired you are or how early/late/inconvenient it is. That’s on top of your 40-stretching-to-50 hour work week. Does anyone appreciate it? Does anyone stop to say “Wow, Mom/Dad, good job! Sparkling clean dishes, great floors--thanks!” or “Gee, honey, spot-free glasses and a neat house. Thanks!” Noooo. You can understand that the kids take you for granted, they’re kids, but your spouse . . . grrr. . .

And then there’s work. Here’s where it gets really unpleasant. No matter what the morning was like (cat threw up on the couch, your son waited until the last minute to finish his science project so guess who was up late to see that it got done?), you square your shoulders, take a deep breath and walk into work with a smile on your face and your very best self-help, positive attitude. You pitch in where needed, help out whenever possible and never refuse a co-worker’s request. Do you hear any thanks? Do you get even an ounce of appreciation from your supervisor for your team spirit? Noooo. All you get is “Don’t forget to finish up that project before the week’s out” and “Five minutes late is still five minutes late.” Major grrr. . .

How can you get your supervisor, your co-workers, your children and your spouse to appreciate you?

Appreciate them. That’s probably not the answer you were looking for, but appreciation is an energy, and it attracts like energy. As you start appreciating others, they will begin appreciating you. If you are persistent and consistent, they will eventually express their appreciation to you in dozens of unexpected and delightful ways.

Ready to start? Appreciating is valuing: paying attention to and acknowledging the worth of someone or something, and being grateful for how that worth contributes to your life. So appreciating becomes something you do proactively before anyone has done anything for you. You simply recognize their value and express it to them. The best place to start is by appreciating yourself. Who better can appreciate you than you? Don't wait until someone comes along to do it for you. That won’t happen until you appreciate yourself. Develop and deepen your appreciation of yourself by exploring what you value about yourself.

Mouthing an empty “I love me” won’t work. It takes more than that. You have to identify the specific qualities and attributes that make up who you are, cherish them, and feel a deep sense of gratitude for them. Here’s a simple way to consciously appreciate your unique self:

Take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. On the left side, list the inner qualities and traits you value about yourself. On the right side, write why you are grateful for each one of these qualities and traits. Spend some time, every day, noticing and valuing your wonderful self. A moment or two is all it takes.

Do the same thing with the people in your life. Identify what you value about them--and then tell them about it. “What a great job you’ve done with your homework. You’ve been very diligent.” “Thanks for putting the kids to bed, honey. You’re such a good Mom/Dad.” “Thanks for giving me this project to work on, I’ve enjoyed it and learned a lot.”

The more you express your honest appreciation to others, the more they will begin to see the value in you. Oddly enough, the answer to “appreciate me!” is really “appreciate you!”

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D. is a respected psychologist, consultant, speaker and author. Her most recent book is "The Power of Appreciation in Everyday Life (Insomniac Press, 2006). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives--at work, at home and in relationships. Dr. Nelson welcomes your comments via email ( You can visit Dr. Nelson anytime at .