“I just want my boss to acknowledge how hard I’ve been working,” said Emily*; her tone angry and her sigh frustrated.
“What’s important about her acknowledgment?” I asked.
“It’d be nice to know she notices the extra time I’ve been putting in. I’ve even worked weekends since we’re so short-staffed. It’s time I could have spent with my family or relaxing. Instead, I’ve been doing my job and the work of the position we’re trying to fill. I’d like her to appreciate my amazing organizational skills, making this transition possible,” stated Emily.
“What’s the likelihood of that happening? I asked.
“Not likely,” she replied.
“You can’t control if or when your boss will acknowledge your efforts,” I said, stating the obvious. “But, what if you gave yourself the acknowledgment you crave?”
Emily wrinkled her nose skeptically. “Tell myself what I wish my boss would say to me?” She looked puzzled. Then, her face transformed as a radiant smile took over. “I could be the boss I want to have!” She warmed to the idea. “I can write myself the thank you note I’ve been waiting to receive.”
“What else can you do for yourself to acknowledge how hard you’ve been working?” I wondered aloud.
Later in the day, this email arrived from Emily.
“I just wrote myself a note on a beautiful notecard – a watercolor painting of yellow coneflowers – and bought flowers and a box of chocolates. I am smiling and feeling very appreciated. E”
Here’s a portion of the note Emily’s “boss” sent her:
I know you have worked long hours late into the afternoon, evenings, and weekends. And I appreciate your dedication and the extra time you have worked. Of course, I recognize this is time you could spend doing other things. But, it is primarily due to your incredible organization and extra work that our office has operated smoothly during this transition. And you do all this without complaining or seeming stressed out – you are amazing and appreciated!
Your “Wise Self” Boss
Being on Your Own Side:
Emily’s willingness to give herself the acknowledgment she desired from her boss is a perfect example of what Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness, calls “Being on Your Own Side.” It’s standing up for and acting on your behalf.
Being on your own side requires you to pay close attention to and acknowledge your feelings. This careful noticing enables you to give yourself the care or words of praise you’ve been waiting for others to provide.
Being on your own side takes many forms; for example, you may need to list all your good points, carve out time to take a nap, or say no to an activity that’s more obligation than fun. Like Emily, it may mean you write a note and buy yourself a gift.
Interestingly, this isn’t the end of the story. Emily, prompted by the kindness she had extended to herself, offered this same level of appreciation – a note and small gift – to her direct report. This individual, Emily realized, had also been impacted by the short-staffed office environment. Such, is the power of being on your own side: the willingness to be kind and generous with ourselves, ripples outward.
Where in your own life would you like to be acknowledged?
How can you give this gift of acknowledgment to yourself?
What does Be on Your Own Side look and feel like for you?
*Name changed and story used with client’s permission.