Do you feel appreciated? It’s horrible to feel taken for granted. When our efforts go unacknowledged, we can feel invisible, unloved, and unappreciated. And yet, the great majority of people feel unappreciated by at least one of the most important people in their lives.
So, what can you do if you feel unappreciated? There are an unlimited number of ways to express appreciation, so the first thing is to explore your assumption. They may not be expressing their appreciation in words, but they may be expressing it in other ways. If you feel unappreciated, take a moment and consider if they are expressing their appreciation in a way you have not considered.
If you still believe someone important in your life does not appreciate you, speak up. It is difficult, but essential for your mental health and happiness. There is always the chance that a person is unaware that you don’t feel appreciated. And if someone you love felt that way toward you, wouldn’t you want to know? Simply by drawing their attention to it, you give them the chance to point out the ways they do express their appreciation and provide the opportunity for them to express their appreciation more going forward. If you feel taken for granted, if you don’t feel appreciated, speak up, share how you are feeling.
One of the reasons it is so important to say something is because if you do not process these feelings of being unappreciated in a healthy way they will almost certainly turn into feelings of anger and resentment. It’s not fair to you or to the other person to harbor these feelings in secret.
It is of course possible that none of that will work. Unfortunately, some people only begin to appreciate who you are and what you do for them if you stop. Sometimes you have to take a break and sometimes you have to stop forever, depending on how dysfunctional the situation is. But when the situation is one of chronic disregard and lack of appreciation, stop doing what you feel is unappreciated for a day, a week, a month, as long as it takes to get the person’s honest attention.
Another mistake we are in danger of making when we don’t feel appreciated is to focus on those feelings and forget to express our appreciation for others. You know how it feels when you go to great effort and nobody notices. It can be incredibly disheartening.
Express your appreciation to the people in your life and the strangers that pass through your life. There are hundreds of ways to do it. Find a way that works for you. Some people like to speak their appreciation, others are more comfortable writing letters. A kind word of encouragement, a hug that lasts a little longer than usual, a small gift, a note, buying someone lunch, small acts of service, spending quality time with people, are all ways to signal to people “I see you. I appreciate you. I am grateful for the ways you make my life a little easier and enjoyable.”
And one last thing… Be specific when you express your appreciation. Rather than saying, “I appreciate all you do for me” say “One of the things I really appreciate is how you…” Name something specific that you appreciate.
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