Is There Psychological Harm In Feeling Unappreciated?
Updated October 31, 2019
Reviewer Avia James
Feeling unappreciated can affect not only your emotions but also how you think and act. If others seem to ignore what you do for them, it can feel devastating. You might wonder if the things you do for others are really worth the effort. From there, it might seem easier to isolate yourself from them and stop trying. While there is harm in these behaviors, the question you need to answer for yourself first is whether the feeling itself can harm you.
Does It Matter If You Are Feeling Unappreciated?
To live a fulfilling life, you need to pay attention not only to your feelings, but also to your thoughts and behaviors. Thoughts influence feelings, feelings influence behavior, and behavior influences thoughts and feelings, too. Your feelings are definitely important to you because they can give you clues about what matters most in your life. They are also a crucial part of the human experience. However, the feeling alone can't hurt you psychologically. It is how you deal with the feeling that really matters.
Do Feelings Automatically Lead to Certain Behaviors?
Feelings can have a profound effect on the choices you make and the way you behave. However, no feeling automatically leads to any specific behavior. Knowing that you own your own being and that you can choose to stay in the situation or move on is the best way to avoid psychological harm from ungrateful people.
Communication Can Improve the Relationship
When you feel like no one cares about who you are or what you've done for them, you can often solve the problem completely by communicating your feelings to them. Without accusing them of anything, express your emotions clearly. Talk about the times when you feel that way. Many times, the other person just doesn't realize their actions have influenced your emotions that way. If, on the other hand, the person truly doesn't appreciate you, you know where you stand and can choose better ways to get the appreciation you deserve.
How Being Objective Can Help You
Looking carefully at a situation in which you're feeling unappreciated can help you get a clearer understanding of what's really happening. Perhaps the person who seems to be unappreciative has gotten so wrapped up in their busy life that they don't show their gratitude for what you do. But, that's about them and their life. It isn't about you. Noticing what seems to be behind the lack of appreciation can help you realize that what you're doing matters to someone even if they don't show it.
If it's hard to remain objective and reason out what to do next, a therapist can help you better define your feelings and make reasonable choices. Licensed therapist are available for this discussion at BetterHelp.com whenever you are ready to take charge of your emotions and make the choices that benefit you.
It's interesting when people are resentful when they get no appreciation while at the same time, they give no appreciation. If you want to be appreciated, make sure you're injecting your own appreciation into the relationship. Even if you have to search hard for something to appreciate in someone, your expressions of gratitude and respect can have a great effect. Again, don't do it to get appreciation, but be ready to receive it happily if it comes. Being a good role model doesn't always work out, but when it does, the results can be powerful.
Look for Appreciation in Actions as Well as Words
Too often, we feel unappreciated because someone doesn't say the words. The person you've done things for may not be as verbal as you are. They may show their appreciation in other ways, perhaps with a tender touch on the shoulder or by giving you a small gift. You may still need to hear those words occasionally, though. If so, get back to basic communication, telling them what you need and how they can supply it if they choose.
Rethink Your Motives
Why do you do what you do? Do you do it so someone will appreciate you? If so, try something different. Instead of acting out of a need for recognition, choose your behaviors because they're what makes you happy. This doesn't mean you'll never do anything for anyone else. Most of us get pleasure out of doing things for the ones we love. We add purpose to our lives by doing things for people who have needs they can't meet. When you focus on that pleasure you've received by doing it instead of the reaction the person gives, you can stop resenting them for the things you do for them.
Being in a state of constant resentment is definitely not healthy. To improve your life, you have to change your thoughts and behaviors surrounding doing things for others. Before you do something for someone else, consider whether you'll resent it if you get a negative response or no response at all. Then, if you're going to resent it, just don't do it. Or, if you decide to do it for another reason, focus on that rather than the gratitude of someone else.
Don't Get Caught Up in Role Identities
Decades ago, it was more common for a husband to earn a living and a wife to stay at home to raise the children. The husband also took care of the yard, the car, and home maintenance. The wife also cooked, cleaned, ran errands, and did any of the other little things the husband didn't have time for. The world has changed dramatically since then - at least it has for many people. The problem is that people who are older or more traditional still live their lives in accordance with these roles. Even young, progressive people sometimes discover that they simply expect their partner to take care of certain responsibilities, perhaps because it was what a parent did.
You don't have to do something just because others in that role have done it before you. Work together with your partner to come up with a way for each person to take care of the parts of daily life that they enjoy, are good at, or don't mind doing. If something needs to be done regularly that no one wants to do, take turns. Come to an agreement that works for both of you. If you can't, couples counseling might help.
Work on Teamwork
Although agreeing who will do what can make your life simpler, it doesn't completely solve the problem of not being appreciated. You may redefine your role, but until you and the other person decide to work together as a team, you might be bound by a strict list of chores and responsibilities. Where's the appreciation in that? However, dividing up chores fairly can be the first step toward having a relationship that works for both parties. If so, the next step can be working together, pitching in when you're needed, and showing appreciation all around.
You Can Start the Ball Rolling
You can't recreate your relationship to make it the perfect combination of teamwork and appreciation. The other person has to be willing to do their part too. So, what do you do if they're unwilling?
You can begin by working on your own mental health issues. Find out why their appreciation means so much to you. Discover what makes you happiest. You can learn to be more assertive in asking for recognition. You can reassess what you want in life. You can practice techniques that help you gain a better understanding of your emotions, thoughts, and actions. You can also start making the changes that are in your hands.
When you choose to address your own mental health, you might find out very quickly if the two of you can coexist in a healthy way. On the other hand, you might find out that the two of you get along better, show each other more appreciation, and get more pleasure from the time you spend together after you've worked on your own mental health. Either way, you'll be in a better position to make important life decisions and find the appreciation you deserve.
Couples Counseling or Individual Therapy?
Which is better for the problem of feeling unappreciated: couples or individual counseling? Whatever you do, you need to get in touch with your feelings, thoughts and behaviors. You need to understand them and make decisions about changes you want to make. Even if you do couples counseling, individual therapy can be extremely helpful. It allows you to work with a counselor who focuses on improving your mental health and no one else's throughout your session. They can teach you more helpful ways of thinking and behaving that can have a profound effect not only on the relationship but on your life outside the relationship as well.
Couples counseling is often used in conjunction with individual therapy. This usually involves three different counselors: one for each of the two in the relationship and one for the couple together. Both partners have an individual counselor helping them work on their individual issues. The two also meet regularly together with the couple's counselor, where they explore problems in their relationship and work on finding mutually beneficial resolutions.
If being appreciated is extremely important to you, why not work towards getting it? Counselors are available to guide you through individual struggles as well as relationship challenges. It only takes a moment to sign up and begin on a new path toward personal fulfillment and satisfaction.