It’s tough to feel as though you’re being taken for granted. After all, helping a friend move and making a special dinner for your loved ones takes a lot of time and energy. And when people don’t seem to notice, you might feel as though you’re unappreciated.
If you’re not careful, feeling unappreciated can lead to feelings of resentment and anger. Fortunately, these strategies can help you feel better and they might even prevent the relationship from being tarnished when you feel unappreciated.
Look for Appreciation Through Actions
Just because someone doesn’t say “thank you” doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate you. Not everyone uses words to express their gratitude.
Your partner pulling you in to a hug or a teenager giving you a big high five might be their way of saying thanks. Similarly, when your coworker invites you to lunch or your friend insists on paying for your coffee, they may be communicating their appreciation to you as well.
So, take a minute and consider whether those around you might be showing you their appreciation in a different way. You might discover that they’re likely more grateful for you than you give them credit for.
Say “No” More Often
Sometimes, the more you do for people without complaining, the more they expect you to do. And they might forget to appreciate all you do for them.
So it may be helpful to say “no” sometimes. This can remind people not to take it for granted that you’ll always be willing and available to pitch in.
Saying “no” sometimes can also be good for you if you’ve become a bit of a people pleaser. Declining a a social invite or request for a favor might be tough if you’re used to always saying “yes.” But doing so reminds you (and others) that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.
There may also be times when you decide to set limits. For example, if you overhear one of your kids telling a friend, “You don’t have to put your dishes in the sink. My parents pick up after me,” you may want to have a talk about your role.
Show Some Kindness
Showing kindness can boost your own happiness. So consider whether helping others makes you feel good about yourself, even if others don’t seem to appreciate you as much as you’d like.
You might have a chance to learn new skills or sharpen existing ones—like patience. You also might get a chance to exercise or time to be in the car by yourself.
Take a look at all the things you gain from doing things for others and you might be surprised to see that there are many things to feel grateful for.
Focusing too much on the lack of appreciation you gain can cause you to forget to show appreciation for others.
But saying “thank you” to those around you can inspire others to appreciate you too.
Thank your friends and family for all they do for you. You might show your appreciation with a verbal “thank you,” or you might send them a note reminding them how much you appreciate them. Whatever way you choose to show your appreciation, make it genuine and heartfelt.
Reframe Negative Thoughts
Be on the lookout for exaggeratedly negative thoughts. Thinking things like, “No one ever does anything nice for me,” or “Everyone expects me to do everything around here,” will only make you feel worse.
Remind yourself of times when other people have shown appreciation for you (even if you have to think back awhile). And remind yourself of times when you have been able to put limits on what you do.
Responding to your unhelpful thoughts with more realistic ones can help you feel a little more appreciated. You might remind yourself of things like, “My family appreciates all I do for them even if they don’t say it,” or “My family appreciates me sometimes,” and you might feel a little better.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to share how you’re feeling. You might talk to your partner, your boss, or your kids about what’s going on by saying something like, “Sometimes, I feel like my work goes unnoticed. I really enjoy it when my work is appreciated.”
Don’t be afraid to say what you want. You might discover that other people are happy to show more appreciation when they understand how important it is to you.
But, there’s also a chance that they might insist they already show plenty of appreciation or they may turn it into a joke by saying something like, “I’ll appreciate you when you do better work.”
Just remember, some people make jokes when they’re uncomfortable. And their discomfort might just be a reflection of how they feel about themselves, not how they feel about you.
Talk to a Professional
If you chronically feel unappreciated, your relationships will likely suffer. You may want to talk to a licensed mental health professional about how you’re feeling. A therapist may recommend family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or other services to help you feel better.