Photo by Arif Riyanto from Unsplash
It’s heartbreaking to know the person you invested parts of your lives to doesn’t appreciate you. Whether emotionally, mentally, or financially, giving a piece of yourself to someone hurts. It counts as a form of love, a sacrifice that could never be repaid. But when the other isn’t on the same page as you, that’s when it starts to get ugly. Feelings of unappreciation are sadly common, and almost everybody receives less than enough appreciation and credit for what they’ve done.
When this feeling of unappreciation is received often, this can quickly turn bigger and heavier of a burden. There’s nothing more appalling to a person who has selflessly devoted his time and energy and yet is still being taken for granted. People need to be seen, felt, heard, and most of all, appreciated for their value to survive. Otherwise, social interaction, in any form, would be futile.
It’s human nature to yearn for validation and acceptance from other people. We want our needs to be catered to. It sucks to silently yearn for people’s approval when we’ve done something good (because deep inside, we want to rub it in their faces). We want to show them our capability and our capacity to show goodness. We want them to be aware that without our help, they wouldn’t have resolved the problem.
Without our intervention, they would’ve still be stuck in the same place. We want to be thanked for our efforts. There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way; everybody does. No one wants to put in the work only to be ignored like it’s nothing of importance. Even when people tell you to not expect appreciation from others, you can’t help but do. Since we were kids, the smallest things like drawing something on a piece of paper are fueled by positive reinforcement, whether it’s by a cheerful “Good job!”, a kiss on a forehead, or a tight hug from the parents.
Even as we grow up, it’s normal to yearn for the same level of appreciation outside our comfort zone, like from colleagues, bosses, or strangers. But the sad truth is, now that we’re adults, we have to work harder and stand out among the rest only to get a stern look from your boss that somehow counts as an appreciative gesture. We can’t fathom the fact that strangers can’t show appreciation for us the way our parents and families did when we were kids. We yearn for that special kind of love freely given to us by our families, but we can’t expect that to be the case, now that we’re outside our comfort zone.
HOW DO FEELINGS OF UNAPPRECIATION AFFECT OUR MENTAL HEALTH?
Feeling unappreciated and taken for granted can cut a deep wound in your self-esteem. As the pain gets deeper, your sense of worth and identity will follow. Your lack of appreciation can make you question who you are and what you’ve done in your life. When all you receive are negative criticisms and unappreciation, you can easily fall into depression. We feel unappreciated because deep inside, we have expectations that haven’t been met.
Even if we do things out of good intention, we can’t help but expect something from a person in return. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a bigger favor; even a single thank you would suffice. Regardless, you’re still expecting something. When that expectation isn’t given, you feel like your efforts were not enough. When we don’t get the credit we think we deserve, we start thinking we did something wrong or failed to do something we should’ve.
It’s tough to carry this feeling in your heart as you journey through the rough road of life. Feelings of unappreciation can take a toll on your mental health. It’s not easy to put on a smile on your face when people don’t notice the good things you’ve done. If you tend to ignore these pesky feelings like they’re not that important, they quickly turn to anger and resentment. Keep in mind to quit assuming what other people are thinking.
If you think you haven’t done enough, remove that thought from your mind. You’ve done the best that you can, and nothing they say or do is going to change that. Be firm with your stand and walk away where you’re not valued. That’s the bravest thing you can ever do — choosing to exit from an environment where you used to seek validation from after realizing it’s not worth it. Be vigilant with the battles you choose to fight, and decide when it’s time to move forward in life even when those battles haven’t finished.
APPRECIATION COMES IN DIFFERENT FORMS
We need to learn not to depend on the good words of others to feel better. Just because they didn’t show gratitude the way you wanted to receive it doesn’t mean you didn’t bring impact to their lives. Even with the absence of social recognition, you did well. You showed kindness to other people, and for that, you’re a good person. It doesn’t matter where credit is due (but easier said than done, right?)
It’s helpful to think they’ve already appreciated you even without saying anything. Just by looking at them living comfortably or in a good place is, in some way, a message to show they didn’t put your good efforts to waste. Many people show their appreciation in different unique ways. Your inability to be open to how they express gratitude doesn’t exactly make them an unappreciative person.
Remember that people express their emotions in various ways, so you should maintain an open mind to see the appreciation from their actions as well. Although you can’t force them to spit out the words you would want to hear, train your mind to quit relying on other people to make you feel good about yourself. Your loved ones are happy and healthy because of your sacrifices, and they are grateful for you.
7 WAYS TO GET RID OF FEELING UNAPPRECIATED:
LEARN TO SAY NO
If you don’t learn to draw boundaries, people will overstep. They will crawl over you until they get you to a position where denying them help would make you selfish. You can’t be everyone’s lifesaver when you can’t save yourself. If you keep saying yes to every request to please others, people will see you as someone they can rely on all the time. This means the more they will expect you to help them with their problems because you don’t complain enough.
Not expressing any sense of reluctance to favors will come off as you like doing it. They will expect you to be someone who’s okay with doing a ton of workload without complaint. Your reputation precedes you. Thinking you won’t mind doing favors for them, they would be less likely to show appreciation for what you do for them. When you’re used to saying yes (like me oftentimes), it’s going to be hard for you to refuse. It’s tough to see people feel bad after you denied their request, but it’s normal.
Find comfort in the idea that setting boundaries are a form of self-care. Sometimes, what’s best for you is to ask to whom are you doing this. If doing favors for someone doesn’t make you happy or doesn’t improve your skill in any way, then it’s solely to please that person. It’s okay to willingly do something for others but remember that you don’t have to, meaning you can respectfully decline. It’s important to set limits to what you offer to do and not to do, to remind people that you have your life to live as well.
REEVALUATE YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
When you feel unappreciated, your mind tends to go to the deep end. Your mood shifts into bitterness and resentment. You’re angry that you’re not brave enough to speak up about your feelings. Be cautious about where your mind dives into. Refrain from exaggerating your thoughts especially when you’re overwhelmed with anger.
Thinking negative things like, “I’m not loved and valued the way I should be,” or “I’m tired of giving too much without being given in return,” should be removed from your mind as soon as possible. You can easily convince yourself that these statements are true even when it’s not. Your mind can be your enemy when you keep pondering on these kinds of things.
You don’t know what people are going through in their lives, and thinking this way may come off as being selfish. Always remind yourself of times when the same people have shown appreciation for you in the simplest ways. Remind yourself of times when strangers appreciated you for your kindness, and take that to heart. Tell yourself you need to control the urge to please others by putting limits on everyone else’s requests.
NORMALIZE TALKING ABOUT FEELING UNAPPRECIATED
One of the reasons feeling unappreciated is taboo is people think it shouldn’t be discussed, that it’s already implied. Normalize telling the person who makes you feel taken for granted that you feel unappreciated. This is an issue of self-esteem and self-awareness. When you’re aware of your fears and triggers, you would be more confident about where all these emotions are coming from.
Be vocal about what hurts you and how you feel when in this particular situation. Feeling unappreciated can make you feel and think you’re too small to matter. Don’t shrink yourself to your limiting beliefs. You are capable and worthy of love and appreciation regardless if you have a constant source for these positive energies. Putting your time, money, and heart into something is risky and difficult, so when you don’t feel any kind of appreciation or improvement in return, it hurts.
For instance, when you’re working to put your siblings to school, knowing that they’ve dropped out or haven’t been doing good would feel like absolute betrayal. You would be furious and distraught, and no one would blame you for that. When you are investing your heart and soul into people, even sacrificing your happiness and choices for him/her, you would need them to be appreciative of you.
One way to show that is to do well in school (preferably make it on the Dean’s list or being a hardworking student). Skipping classes or putting off homework for a weekend getaway with friends (with the allowance money you gave them nonetheless) is a clear message of ungratefulness and unappreciation.
APPRECIATE YOURSELF FIRST
We all need some form of approval from others besides our own. It’s part of human nature to seek validation from our peers, important people we want to impress, and even strangers. But too much of this need to be appreciated by others is not good, and it needs to be regulated. You should learn how to make yourself good and valued as a habitual practice. Some reach a point where they can’t function without any form of validation.
This reflects their low self-confidence, character growth, and the type of environment they’re accustomed to. Their rough and traumatic experiences also speak a lot about their inability to work without relying on anybody. As tough as the real world is, this kind of behavior is set to lose. You must learn how to work silently without anyone clapping for you. You must deal with the fact of working diligently behind the limelight, away from all the applause.
You should be self-aware enough to trust in your capabilities even without other people agreeing with you. This is why it’s important to appreciate yourself first and all the time. Appreciating yourself comes in different forms, so don’t limit yourself to only one. Appreciating yourself doesn’t only come in saying affirmations and taking yourself shopping. Self-appreciation can be as simple as taking a break when your day gets too overwhelming. It is by appreciating yourself that gives you the most powerful form of encouragement.
DO SOMETHING FOR YOU
It gets easier to appreciate yourself the sooner you accept the reality of life; that it is not and will never be fair. Sometimes it works in your favor, sometimes it doesn’t. Some people choose to see your true potential while some choose to take you for granted. To avoid expecting others to appreciate you all the time, make sure to connect with people who aren’t blind to people’s true potential. Be with people who are humble enough to value you for who you are, even when you turn out to be better than them.
People can choose how they want to act around you, and you can too. You can choose to whom you invest your energy and talent. The painful truth is those people whom you are bending over backward for may not have asked you to do it for them. They may never have told you to sacrifice and give so much for them, so technically, they don’t have to do something for you.
Your expectations are the reason of your disappointment. Make sure when you do something, it’s not only to get other people’s approval. When you do something, do it for you, do it because it’s what you love. At least, even when you don’t get the appreciation directly from them, you get it from yourself because you’re satisfied by the outcome of your investment.
LEARN TO APPRECIATE OTHERS
If you don’t know how to appreciate others, how do you expect them to appreciate you back? When you focus too much on fulfilling your need to be appreciated, you forget to do the same for others. You would confuse appreciation as a competition like it’s something to be fought over when it’s not. When you don’t appreciate others for their work and effort, deep inside you wish them to fail so you would get the appreciation, not them.
If you want the value of appreciation to circulate in your workplace or environment, you need to be the one who pioneers for it. Say thank you to your colleagues, buy them lunch, or let them take an extra break. When you learn to show appreciation for others, you’re likely to forget the bitterness you feel for the lack of appreciation you receive.
In their faces, you see joy after saying “thank you” and that inspires you to do this more often. When you choose to show appreciation, make sure it’s heartfelt. Otherwise, you would only be fueling pretenses and lies. Leading people on to think they’re appreciated when they’re not may lead to feelings of doubt, anxiety, and low morale.
The truth is, no one truly knows what you’re thinking every time. No one would know if you’re feeling sad or angry or unappreciated. If you don’t speak up about your feelings, you would be resenting those who aren’t appreciating you (because they weren’t aware that you were feeling that way). Sometimes, it isn’t their fault if your feeling unappreciated goes unnoticed by the people around you.
You need to learn how to stand your ground even when it seems selfish to others. You need to be there for yourself because everyone is looking out for themselves. They may either be so busy themselves or they just don’t interpret your actions as someone feeling taken for granted. Don’t be afraid to open up and tell them how you feel.
Be strategic with how you want to convey your emotions. You would want your approach to be as mature as possible to avoid touching any nerve. Carefully explain to them how it feels when they don’t notice any of your generous efforts. Tell them your suggestions/ideas that would improve your relationship mutually.
Everyone is susceptible to feeling unappreciated. It happens when you’re at work, in your relationship, or even in your family. It doesn’t only ruin your mood, but makes a huge negative impact on your self-esteem. No one wants to feel taken for granted, but sadly, some people are too selfish and proud to show they care. For most of us, the need to prevent feeling taken for granted can cause us to place ourselves in extreme societal pressure. This will eventually lead to a downward spiral in stress, fatigue, anxiety, and many more mental health issues.
Acts of appreciation are as contagious as kindness. When one shows compassion to another person, others will follow. Whatever reason that’s stopping them from appreciating someone else’s effort before, one single act of appreciation can change that. These acts of kindness will be passed on, and for every amiable gesture, you will have thawed a heart of stone. Then when done continuously, a healthy, responsive culture is created that fosters charity and uplifts morale. Don’t be the person who stops that connection.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”John F. Kennedy