Big events tend to prompt us to tell people how we feel about them. There is something about a significant birthday, a wedding, or perhaps leaving a workplace, that prompts us to open up and express our appreciation. Some people become eloquent in Christmas cards. Others prefer to maintain a stoic, dignified silence. Some show their feelings with hugs, others keep a safe, self-contained distance.
Tell her about it
Tell her all your crazy dreams
Let her know you need her
Let her know how much she means
I tend to the expressive side (some would argue excessively so), yet when my cousin, Chris, died earlier this year, I found myself wondering whether he really knew what he meant to me. Yesterday I cleared his immense book collection out of his house and on my uncle’s instructions I donated it to the school I work at. It’s an incredible, eclectic collection, and I fiercely regret the opportunity to give him a hard time about some of it, and to share and revel in other sections with him. I’ve learnt a lot about him that I didn’t know, and been reminded of how much we had in common.
Chris and I tended to express ourselves in hugs, but we left the words largely unsaid. Sometimes long established relationships are the hardest to change. His death has reminded me how important it is to get our feelings out into the open. To push past our natural shyness and reticence, and whether face to face or in writing, to express our appreciation and affection for the people around us. Waiting for the big events can leave us deprived of the opportunity.
Telling someone that they are important to you, that you care about them, or how much their support has meant to you, can feel like a risk sometimes. What if they don’t feel the same way? What if they laugh, or are embarrassed, or if it makes things uncomfortable? I won’t pretend I haven’t got it wrong sometimes – being expressive can alarm people when they’re not ready for it, not used to it, or don’t reciprocate – but mostly it is a profound act of love and gratitude that reinforces and deepens relationships.
From family to workmates, we often take each other for granted in the frantic race that we seem to run every day. Stopping to appreciate someone can create a small, precious breathing space for both of you, where warmth and friendship have time to bloom, sheltered from the tornado of life.
It’s good information from a man
Who’s made mistakes
Just a word or two that she gets from you
Could be the difference that it makes
Billy Joel – Tell Her About It
Recently I stepped down from the child care committee that I have served on for the last 8 years. My youngest child is going to school, and our involvement with the centre finishes tomorrow. At my last meeting the committee touched me deeply by expressing their appreciation of my work most eloquently. I carry their words and gestures with me every day, and their particular choice of words will always make me smile. There is nothing quite like being appreciated to keep you warm inside. We can make a profound difference to someone’s life by telling them how we feel.
Who have you appreciated lately?