Feeling Underappreciated: What Can You Do?

Feeling unappreciated by your partner, family, or your boss can be very exhausting. What should you do in these situations?
Feeling Underappreciated: What Can You Do?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

“I feel underappreciated, both at work and at home.” Many people experience this feeling at some point in their life. Let’s face it, few things are as painful as feeling this way.

Is this perhaps a sign of a lack of self-esteem? Could be. However, there’s an undeniable aspect regarding this issue. Human beings need to feel part of something or someone. As the social and emotional creatures that we are, having those we care about validate and recognize us is essential.

And that’s the truth: everyone wants to be appreciated. Giving and receiving affection and admiring and being admired by the person we love and feeling supported is very important. This psychological fabric is also essential in every family unit, as well as on a professional level. Think about it: realizing that people appreciate what you do reinforces the image you have of yourself, doesn’t it?

What happens if you’re missing this? Let’s see.

A man under a tree.

I feel underappreciated and don’t know what to do

The reason why people tend to feel underappreciated by others is almost always part of the brain. In a way, individuals are “programmed” to compare themselves socially with those around them at almost every moment.

When you perceive yourself in a bad way, an alarm system goes off, warning you that something bad is going on. Cortisol is released into the blood system and you become alert when you notice, for example, that your parents pay more attention to your older brother. Also, when your partner doesn’t value the little things you do for them.

The brain needs external reinforcement to feel a certain balance and perceive itself as part of its social group. This way, gestures such as kindness, words of recognition, and daily acts of affection are injections of dopamine capable of making you see that everything’s going fine. If this is continuously lacking, you may start feeling fearful and unwell.

Feeling underappreciated in a romantic relationship

Feeling underappreciated in a relationship is often the cause of problems and even breakups. On certain occasions, this situation can mean that all parties of the relationship need to address some underlying issues.

What should you do?

First of all, become aware of whether your need for reinforcement and recognition is excessive. Sometimes, factors such as insecurities or low self-esteem can lead you to expect too much of the other person. Likewise, the continuous search for external approval only reveals internal shortcomings. Think about it.

On the other hand, you may have other reasons to believe you’re not being valued the way you should. This happens as well. In that case, it’s necessary to discuss it with your partner. You must make everything clear and give them examples of what’s happening. It’s also advisable to specify what you expect from the other person: appreciation, respect, complicity, and support. If they’re unable to give you what you want, it’s time that you think about if you really want to be with them.

Feeling appreciated in your relationship supposes a slow emotional death that you shouldn’t go through.

A man looking sad because he's feeling underappreciated.

Feeling underappreciated in your family

This is harmful at all levels. If you’ve been experiencing this since childhood as a result of parents who underestimated you in almost every aspect, the impact of this fact can last for decades. As a result, you may end up developing low self-esteem.

What should you do?

What can you do if you feel underappreciated by your family? The first step is to stop focusing your gaze on them and concentrate on a very neglected area: yourself.

You must try and heal this undervaluation that has lasted for decades with self-love. For this, you must reinforce your self-esteem, identity, self-confidence, and self-efficacy. It’s time to feel good about how you are and the plans you have in mind. Sadly, you must place a healthy distance from your family so that they remain in the background.

Those who persistently undervalue another person exercise a form of abuse.

Feeling underappreciated at work

Believe it or not, humans spend almost a third of their lives at work. Undoubtedly, being immersed in a context where you may feel you’re competing with those around you at all times is something that’s difficult to deal with.

Aspects such as the wage gap between men and women, the little to no appreciation of each person’s potential, low wages, or poor working conditions, in general, are common in many work environments.

What should you do?

Feeling underappreciated at work leads to low motivation, stressful situations, and general discomfort. It’s vital not to reach extreme situations that put your health at risk.

To conclude, every single person in the world feels underappreciated from time to time. When this happens, it’s necessary to explore yourself first. Sometimes, we expect others to offer us what we don’t give ourselves.

In case your level of self-esteem and personal appreciation doesn’t have anything to do with it and there really is a problem of contempt, you must solve it. Don’t allow yourself to live with that feeling because it can be extremely detrimental to your mental health.

Resolve these situations with assertiveness and claim what you deserve: respect and appreciation.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.