Feeling Under-Appreciated
Feeling Under-Appreciated
Dear Tacit,

I think of myself as a good friend.  I am kind and helpful and can always be counted on when someone I care about has a problem or needs support.  But it often seems to be a one-way street.  I feel a bit used or taken for granted.  What can I do to change this?

Signed: Feeling Under-Appreciated

Dear Under-Appreciated,

There is sometimes a slippery slope between the feelings of happiness we get when we help those we care about and the feelings of resentment or hurt when our endeavours seem to be regularly under-appreciated.    The onus is first upon ourselves, to be sure we are setting a stage that allows for the graciousness and acknowledgement that we sometimes need in return for the energy we give to others.  We are not being selfish by wishing to sometimes have our efforts recognized.  We cannot be sure that our kindness and support is truly wanted unless the person who is receiving it is able to demonstrate their gratitude in some small ways. If our energy is being wasted or misdirected, we will of course find ourselves thinking we should stop giving it.

If you are being taken for granted, then I would encourage you to consider restructuring your boundaries, to ensure you are honouring yourself as equally as you are honouring those you are trying to support.  Give only when you feel you have the energy to do so.  And only when you feel happy with your efforts regardless of how they might be received by the other person.  But remember that to be able to feel appreciated, two things are required.  The appreciation certainly must be shown by the other person, but you must also be willing to receive it.  And sometimes, the issue starts with our own comfort and ability to accept gratitude and thanks.  Here are some things to consider within yourself:

Are you comfortable just saying, “thank you” when someone recognizes your efforts, or do you brush off their words and minimize the gratitude that does come your way?  By being too humble and modest, we sometimes set a standard for the rejection of the acknowledgement being given to us, which can, in ways, seem callous to the person who is trying to be thankful (even if that is not our intention).  So, they stop showing their appreciation, believing it to be wrong to do so, based on how we receive it.

Can you see the thanks of the person you are helping in the way they are expressing it, or are you only able to see their gratitude if it is shown in the same manner that you express it yourself?  There are so many ways people can demonstrate their recognition for what we have done.  Some can easily speak with great eloquence, while others might be more comfortable with more subtle or indirect gestures of acknowledgement (a touching of the shoulder, conversation with others about how much your efforts meant). Their appreciation is given in no less of a full way. We just need to be open to seeing their intentions.

Are you focusing on why you made the effort to be supportive in the first place? Or are you focusing too much on the person you are trying to help?  If our efforts come from a kind place within ourselves, how it is received matters less.  As long as we have made the gesture because we feel it’s the right or best thing to do, we are being true to our values and who we are/want to be as a person.  And that will fill our hearts with satisfaction and contentment more that anything that the other person can give us.

Are YOU comfortable acknowledging your own efforts?  Our self esteem and confidence can only grow stronger if we remember to be positively introspective on a regular basis.  Our good deeds and generous desires will ripple back with a wonderful warmth and self assurance that comes from the connection we have within/to ourselves.  We must be comfortable sitting in the rewards of our actions, and not look for validation and affirmation only from external sources.  We are not a “good person” because of what others think of us – we should feel proud and content with who we are based on what we think/feel about ourselves.

Take care!

Have a question? Please feel free to reach out to us at counsellors@tacitknows.com. You answer will be provided confidentially. 

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