You’re a giving person. You give of your time, your resources, your advice, your love. How would you know if it’s helping to grow your life or if it’s making you feel unappreciated? Here are three signs you’re not being appreciated for your efforts.
You are not advancing your life goals
The time you spend with the person or group is focused on their life or their problems. You may notice an imbalance where you give more airtime, more emotional care, or more logistical help to them than they give to you. The time you spend together does not help you move forward toward the goals of your life.
You don’t feel recognized
You are left ‘wishing’ that you could feel more recognized. You don’t feel seen for your contributions and for your talents. You want something back in the form of appreciation, recognition or validation.
You feel resentful
There’s a bubbling feeling inside of you that feels like frustration or anger at the inequality between what you give and what you get. You’ll hear your words of resentment banging around in your own head saying ‘you’re not giving back’ or ‘they should appreciate me more.’ You will secretly want to stop doing so much for the person or group (whether you act on it or not).
So how can you assert yourself?
Be clear about your ask
Give the person or group an opportunity to do better at appreciating you; they may not be aware that they are taking more than they are giving. Educate them on what would be the most meaningful way for you to be appreciated.
I coached a woman who was giving many more referrals to her networking group than she was getting back. She noticed she felt resentful about it and at the next meeting, she pointed out the gap. She was beloved in the group and they stepped up to provide her with an immediate increase in referrals.
Also, be open to receiving appreciation in a form that’s different from what you are expecting. Maybe the person is not able to read that you want to hear loving affirmations, but the person holds your hand or tells other people what a gift you have been to them. They are not correctly gauging your ‘love language’ but they are giving back in the way they know how.
Use your power to change the terms
If the person does not show that they are able to appreciate you the way that you need, be aware of the temptation to try harder to ‘get them’ to appreciate you. Notice whether you keep trying to please them, giving them more than they are giving or working even harder to reflect your worth.
If so, this is a pattern of ‘giving’ in order to ‘get’ (giving to others “in order to” feel appreciated inside of yourself). Your giving is not generous; it’s ‘using’ the other person to fill your needs. In this pattern, you are giving them power over you. You are outsourcing your ability to feel worthy to the other person.
Instead, be in your power. Take a stand and create conditions that enable you to feel fulfilled in your life.
You can tell them that if you can’t get what you need, you’ll have to change the terms of the interaction (“I notice that the time we’ve been spending together focuses more on building your business than on my own. Could we set aside some time so I could get your input on my business? I am committed to pursuing my new business idea so if that’s not part of what you want to do in our time together, I’m going to carve out three hours a week from our time and devote it to pursuing my idea…”)
You can set limits and set boundaries (“I am willing to do __ but I am no longer willing to do ____”).
Find people and situations where you feel championed
The most important thing you can do to assert yourself is to own your value and thus, believe that you deserve to be appreciated.
If the person is not showing you appreciation even after you have earned it and asked for it, the person is revealing their limitations. They might not be able to give you what you need.
Be willing to devote less and less time to people and situations that don’t meet your needs. Then turn your attention toward people and situations where you feel seen and celebrated; where the permission you give yourself is matched and fueled by those around you; where your dreams are championed.