Working Hard at Raking the Yard – Why Nobody Noticed

 In Communication, Negative emotions, Relationships

The lawn was full of gravel, sticks, and leaves so I decided to tackle some raking instead of going for a walk. It was tiring work, and I had to stop and give my arms a break now and then. I was making great progress and the yard was looking much better.

Even though I was feeling good about the difference, it occurred to me that my husband and daughter wouldn’t even notice. Did that mean they were ungrateful or uncaring?

It’s easy to feel hurt and unappreciated when other people don’t thank us, or at least comment on our hard work. We may wonder how they can be so blind. Has this ever happened to you?

What I’ve learned has really helped me understand why this happens (and not to feel offended when others don’t notice). Our brains are wired to “see” anything that’s out of the ordinary. If everything appears to be as our brain expects it, (the lawn looks nice like it normally does) then there is nothing different to notice. But if something is out of place like an unusually messy kitchen, messy bedroom, or messy yard, our brains zoom in. Or if something is normally a mess, but now it’s organized and clean (like my office) our brains pay attention to the difference. “Wow! That’s looks so nice!”

What this insight has taught me is that if I want someone to appreciate my work, I need to point it out instead of feeling unappreciated. “See how nice the yard looks?” Remember all the gravel and leaves? I spent an hour raking today.” I also realize that there are many things my family does that I don’t notice either, so I encourage them to tell me.

Give it a try! Instead of feeling hurt or frustrated that your efforts go unnoticed, point them out. And be sure to let others know about this phenomenon and ask them to let you know about their hard work.

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