I grew up as a Grade A certified people pleaser. I needed praise like that prehistoric squirrel in Ice Age needed that acorn. I was hunting for acorns, doing everything I could to receive positive, encouraging, uplifting words from those around me. It filled me up. It drove me on. It made everything right in my little world.
When I didn’t receive any sort of feedback, I was disappointed beyond description. Like that poor squirrel staring at his acorn frozen inside a glacier. What I needed so badly was right there inside this other person, yet I couldn’t do anything to get it out of them.
What was worse was when I received any sort of criticism. That brought my world to a screeching halt. It didn’t matter what form it took — a look, a sigh, a body posture, a tone of voice, a word, a phrase, or an action. It was worse than just not getting praise — more than just not finding my acorn. It was like watching the acorn I had worked so hard for be decimated in front of me.
Now, I’m about to let all the ladies in on a little-known fact. It is the key to the typical man. Yes, I said the key and I’m not exaggerating.
Most men are praise-acorn chasing squirrels. They want it. They thrive on it. I believe they need it.
They collect them and hoard them away like acorns as if facing an impending eternal winter.
Withholding praise from him is like freezing the acorn in a glacier. Criticizing him is like destroying the acorn right in front of him. If the criticism is frequent enough, then it is like reaching into his stored up stash of positivity and destroying it too.
I’m not exaggerating. Criticism is like kryptonite to a man.
It can show up in a look you give him, in your body language, in a sigh, in your tone of voice, in the words you choose to use, in your overall interaction with him.
This might not make sense to you. You probably don’t think it’s that bad or that you do it that much or that it affects him that deeply. Here’s the truth — it is that bad; you do it more than you think; and it does affect him deeply.
Consider what your acorn is instead.
- Maybe it’s affection.
- Maybe it’s compliments.
- Maybe it’s help around the house or with the kids.
- Maybe it is time alone with him.
- Maybe it is actual, meaningful conversation.
Whatever it is for you — that thing that drives you, that you crave more of, that you store up like those acorns before an impending eternal winter — bring it to mind.
Picture what it feels like to get one. Imagine what it feels like to have one withheld just out of reach. Remember what it felt like to have it destroyed in front of you or, worse, to have what you had saved up demolished in one shot.
Just because you hunt different acorns doesn’t mean his are any less valuable.
Quit trying to feed him your kind of acorn and instead realize that you have an endless supply of his kind right inside of you. You have kind words. You have praise. You have encouragement. You have respect that you can give your man any time you want.
The question is, are you willing?
- Are you willing to be mindful of what your man needs?
- Are you willing to serve him by giving him what he needs?
- Are you willing to pause your own fervid hunt for affection-acorns in order to contribute to his hunt for praise-acorns?
In my humble opinion, it really ultimately comes down to what kind of man you want to have — one that is well-fed and confident because of his plentiful store of acorns or one that is angry, defensive, starving, and also highly unmotivated to share with you the stash of your kind of acorns that he carries around inside of him.
About Jennifer Miller
Jennifer Miller, MAR, MA, LPC is a Christian pastor, professional counselor, and author of No Longer Two: A Guide to How God Created Men, Women, and Marriage. For over a decade, she has been combining her expertise in psychology and theology to help individuals, couples, and families both in private practice and in ministry, as well as through her writing, speaking, and teaching.
She is the co-founder and Co-Executive Director of The Center for Living Well, a nonprofit Christ-centered wellness ministry dedicated to helping people live well and love God. She regularly leads classes, workshops, and retreats on a wide range of topics including faith and relationships. She is also a Master-level Christ-Centered Yoga Leader at the Center.
Jennifer is one of the new co-hosts on Heart and Soul with Jory Fisher. You can listen to her with Jory the second and third shows of the month starting in October.
She is also offering a special discount to listeners and readers for her upcoming “Live Love Yoga and Wellness Retreat,” being held in Oracle, Arizona on November 7th–9th. Register with the code “Radio” and save $60, reducing the basic registration for this all-inclusive retreat to just $299!