Everyone feels unappreciated, at least sometimes.
When life gets tiring, what often gets us through our difficulties is the knowledge that someone appreciates us for who we are. Yet, that appreciation isn’t always going to be there.
The problem is that when we don’t feel unappreciated, we may face feelings of low self-esteem and lack a sense of meaning and belonging in life.
We can’t expect others to always appreciate who we are and what we do, so it’s important to learn how to manage when you’re not getting the appreciation and love you need.
In this article, we’ll offer some healthy coping tips you can use when you feel like you’re going unnoticed, including how to communicate your wants and needs to others. We’ll also give tips on how to give yourself unconditional love and care so that you can begin to appreciate yourself.
What does it mean to feel unappreciated?
To feel unappreciated is to feel that you’re being taken for granted by those close to you or with whom you have a relationship. In this article, we’ll take a look at romantic relationships, but one can potentially feel unappreciated in any relationship in their life, such as with their coworkers or within their family.
At work, feeling unappreciated can make it hard to stay motivated. If you put a lot of effort into a project, for example, and nobody acknowledges or even offers feedback on your work, you may feel like your efforts are being taken for granted.
In the family, the feelings usually follow being compassionate and kind to family members but getting no thanks in return. Of course, real acts of compassion and kindness aren’t done for thanks, but it’s certainly nice to be noticed.
In romantic relationships, whether the couple is new or has been married for 30 years, feeling unappreciated can be deeply disheartening.
A romantic partner is someone with whom we become vulnerable and intimate, so to feel that they don’t appreciate us for who we are, becomes a lonely and isolating experience. That sense of loneliness, in turn, can lead to self-esteem and self-worth questions and issues, that can exacerbate the feeling of being unappreciated.
Feeling unappreciated in any relationship, romantic or otherwise, can lead to feelings of resentment. You feel taken for granted by the person in question, and unless you communicate how you feel with that person, you’re likely to develop some negative feelings towards them.
Honest communication is critical when this happens because if you suppress or hide how you really feel, then you’re more likely to engage in passive-aggressive and resentful behaviors towards the person.
You may intentionally stop trying, give them the silent treatment, or try to exact revenge for their lack of appreciation by making nasty comments or picking fights over insignificant things.
Though it’s disheartening to feel unappreciated, it’s important to check in with yourself regularly and make sure that you’re not allowing that feeling to control your behavior. It’s important to remember that you have choice and power in your life.
You can choose to feel worse by allowing resentment and anger to take over and influence your relationship with that person, or you can choose to mindfully accept how you feel and take positive and healthy action.
Below, we’ve outlined some important things to consider when you don’t feel the appreciation you know you deserve. Hopefully, these tips will help you take a mature and growth-oriented approach to your situation and help you maintain your mental and emotional well-being in the face of this challenging feeling.
Why is appreciation so important in relationships?
“We are delighted to find a person who values us as we value ourselves, and distinguishes us from the rest of mankind, with an attention not unlike that with which we distinguish ourselves” – Adam Smith.
Appreciation plays a powerful role in relationship health and success.
When we show appreciation to our partners, we often end up feeling even more positive feelings for them and find it easier to bring up relationship issues without fear, according to a study on the role of appreciation of relationships. Another study points out that appreciation is a key factor in lasting and satisfying marriages.
How to deal with feeling unappreciated
Now that we have identified the importance of appreciation, how can we address the feelings of being unappreciated? Here are some tips:
1. Identify what you need to feel appreciated
In what area of your life do you feel unappreciated? Do you feel like the work you do goes unnoticed? Do your efforts in the home seem to fly over your partner’s head? Do you feel like you’re not being given the love and affection you deserve?
There are many ways in which one might feel unappreciated, so it’s helpful to identify exactly what that means for you in your current situation.
Once you can identify your wants and needs in relationships as well as life in general, it becomes an awful lot easier to have a healthy and honest conversation with your partner when you need to talk about something important.
2. Communicate with your partner
Instead of hoping your partner just gets the hint or learns telepathy, understand that communication is essential for a healthy relationship. When there are issues, in this context, feeling unappreciated, we must be brave enough to tell our partners how we feel.
Of course, tact is important. It wouldn’t be very helpful to scream at your partner with claims like “You never notice me!” or “You should appreciate me more!”
Any issues in a relationship, any relationship, is best dealt with by communication with the other person through honesty and ‘I’ statements. Instead of saying ‘you don’t appreciate me, you could say ‘I don’t feel appreciated.’ Instead of saying ‘You don’t care about me!” you could try ‘I don’t feel cared for lately..’
The magic of using ‘I’ statements is that they open up a space in which you can elaborate on why you feel. You don’t have to over-explain yourself, and you’re under no obligation to justify your feelings.
But being able to elaborate on why you feel unappreciated when it comes to communicating that feeling to your partner can help both of you approach the issue as a team, rather than opposing sides of defense and attack.
3. Learn to appreciate yourself
It’s a wonderful feeling to have someone appreciate us for who we are and everything we do, but we can’t always expect others to show us appreciation. It’s great when it comes around but can lead to disappointment when it’s frequently expected.
Some people won’t appreciate you as much as you’d like them to, and sometimes that’s simply because they’re a bit too distracted with thoughts and circumstances in their own life to always notice.
So, if you’re not feeling the appreciation you think you deserve from someone, don’t forget to cultivate some appreciation for yourself.
Sure, it’s nice to have our efforts, and even our existence acknowledged and valued by another person. But once we give others the power to influence how we feel through their behavior, we lose confidence in ourselves and start harboring negative thoughts that can wreak havoc in our own mental health.
Learning how to appreciate yourself is an act of self-love that helps you maintain a positive and growth-oriented frame of mind, even when others aren’t showing up for you.
4. Appreciate others
Allow this difficult feeling to provide insight into how other people feel when they don’t feel appreciated.
Any challenging or difficult feeling becomes a lot easier to manage when you allow yourself to fully experience it than take positive action to help others stop feeling that way.
So, if you’re not feeling appreciated today, try express appreciation to others.
Got a hard-working colleague whose efforts always go unnoticed? Let them know that you see their hard work and that you appreciate them for it.
Have you got a family member feeling down? Tell them how much you value them.
Is your partner tired and down on themselves lately? Offer them affection and remind them how much you love and care about them.
Sometimes we can forget just how special and amazing our partner really is. We neglect to feel grateful for the other person’s life.
Think back to when you first met them and how excited you were to be around them. Think about how great and in love you felt when simply looking at them.
You likely felt extremely grateful for meeting this wonderful person. That gratitude stemmed from the fact that this person may easily have not been in your life. You feel lucky to have met them and grateful for their existence.
Gratitude is a prerequisite for appreciation. It also offers a broad range of health benefits, so it’s worth cultivating, even when you don’t feel appreciated yourself.
Research has shown that acts and expression of gratitude from one partner to another increases the likelihood that the receiving partner will feel gratitude and appreciation for the first.
Express gratitude and appreciation for your partner and they will more likely show the same to you until it becomes a positive and mutually beneficial cycle.
5. Manage your expectations
Confrontation isn’t always easy, and sometimes we’d rather stay silent about what’s bothering us than risk having an argument or making our partner feel upset. We may even silently wish that our partner can just read our minds so we will not have to tell them how we really feel; they’d just know.
However, to expect someone, even our partner, to read our minds, know exactly how we feel, and know exactly what to do to fix our problems is highly unrealistic and extremely unhealthy.
Expectations and relationship health
If you expect someone to know exactly how and when you’re not feeling appreciated and do nothing but wait for them to figure it out, you’re not going to have a healthy relationship. Even if your partner is tuned in to your feelings in that way, that’s still not a healthy relationship dynamic.
Even the most attuned partnerships require open and honest communication and affirmation.
In the long run, it’s much healthier to check in with your partner, ask them how they feel, and be honest about how you feel. Come to an agreement about how you will support each other and keep the other from having to do any unnecessary guesswork in the relationship.
6. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’
Life and the people in it aren’t perfect. From time to time, some people, including ourselves, do, in fact, take other people for granted. When someone always does something for us, we may come to expect it and forget to show appreciation and gratitude.
If you’re feeling unappreciated for your care and efforts, try holding back when you’re about to go out of your way for someone.
Don’t leave them stuck if they genuinely rely on you for something, but try saying no from time to time to show them that you’re not always going to be able to give them what they need. When you start saying no, people show more appreciation when you say ‘yes’.
7. Mind your mental health
If you feel deeply appreciated, undervalued, and barely acknowledged in a relationship, then it’s not only the relationship that will suffer. These feelings have a detrimental effect on our mental health.
They can make us feel lonely and worthless, as though we’re not worth appreciating in the first place, Objectively that may seem far-fetched, but such feelings can be insidious.
They can creep up on us over years of not feeling loved and appreciated and eventually become our perceived reality.
Should you speak to a therapist?
If you’re feeling unappreciated, and that’s making you feel bad about your life, then it’s wise to reach out to a qualified mental health professional. A licensed therapist or counselor can offer you informed professional advice on how to cope and deal with your unappreciated feelings.
With the support of a professional, you can safely explore what appreciation, and a lack thereof, means to you as a unique individual. You can safely explore times in your life where underappreciation was present and impacted you and gain insight into how past experiences may be affecting you today.
A professional can also help you work on your self-esteem and sense of self-worth to help you maintain your emotional and mental health if you find yourself in an unappreciative relationship. They can also help you learn to say no and set healthy, firm boundaries around you, so you don’t have to spend time and energy excessively ruminating about others’ lack of appreciation and gratitude.
Nobody likes to feel unappreciated, but the fact is that when we place our emotional well-being on whether or not others show us appreciation, we’re likely to be disappointed often.
It’s great to be appreciated, especially in close relationships, but what’s more important is that you learn to love and appreciate yourself first. Practice self care, start your day with positive affirmations, live a fulfilling life and opt out of situations that can devalue your own worth.