“I just want my boss to acknowledge how hard I’ve been working,” said my client in a frustrated tone.
“What’s important about her acknowledgement?” I asked.
“The recognition of how hard I’ve been working since we’re short-staffed. It’d be really nice to know she notices the ton of extra time I’ve been putting in, working weekends. It’s time I could have spent with my family or relaxing. Instead, I’ve been doing BOTH my job and the work of the position we’re trying to fill. I’d like her to appreciate my amazing organization skills, making this possible,” stated Emily*, matter-of-factly.
“What’s the likelihood of that happening? I asked.
“Not likely,” she replied.
“You can’t control if or when your boss will ever acknowledge all the extra effort you’ve been putting in these last 3 months,” I said, stating the obvious. “What if you gave yourself the acknowledgement you are craving?”
Emily wrinkled her nose skeptically for a moment. “You mean, like tell myself what I wish my boss would say to me?” She looked puzzled, and then suddenly her face transformed as a radiant smile took over. “I could be the boss I want to have!” She warmed to the idea instantly. “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 this note to myself on a beautiful notecard with a watercolor of yellow coneflowers and gave it to myself, along with buying flowers and Candinas chocolates for myself today. I am smiling and feeling very appreciated. E”
Here’s a sweet portion of the note Emily’s “boss” sent her:
…I know you have put in extra hours in the late afternoon, as well as, evenings and weekends. And I really appreciate your dedication and the extra time you have worked. I recognize this is time you could spend doing other things. It is due in large part to your incredible organization and extra work that things seem to operate smoothly. And you do all this without complaining or seeming stressed out – you really are amazing and you are appreciated!
Your “Wise Self” Boss
I like the name Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness, has given this type of action: Being on Your Own Side.
This act of standing up for yourself is powerful. It allows you to turn towards and pay close attention to what you are feeling.
This careful noticing gives you the opportunity to act on your behalf. It may be as simple as offering words of compassion to yourself, like in the case of Emily, “Dear one, I know you are feeling underappreciated and overworked.” It may mean you go the extra mile, like writing a note, and/or buying yourself a small token of appreciation.
Interestingly, this wasn’t the end of the story either. A few days later, Emily emailed to let me know how writing herself a thank you note, prompted her to extend this kindness, a note and small gift, to a staff person who reports to her. This individual, like Emily, has also born the burden of being short-staffed during a long hiring process.
Besides being powerful, being on your own side is also a generous act. Emily’s willingness to be kind and generous with herself, ultimately expanded her capacity to be kind and generous with others. She got to BE the boss she wants to have, both for herself and for someone else.
Like Emily, your willingness to take a powerful stand, to be on your own side, can help change the world, one small generous act at a time.
So How About You?
Where in your own life would you like to be acknowledged?
What if you could give this gift of acknowledgement to yourself?
How can you “Be on Your Own Side”?
*Name changed and story used with client’s permission.
If you would like to explore your own answer to the above questions, then I would be happy to be your thought-partner.
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Give yourself the gift of space and time to reflect. You can, of course, do this on your own some rainy afternoon, sitting with your journal.
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