"I'm Not Appreciated"By Dr. Margaret Paul
November 12, 2012
Learn what you can do when you don't feel appreciated by your partner.
Chris wrote this question for one of my relationship webinars:
"What do you do when you feel you are not loved for who you are? How do you accept your relationship when you don't feel appreciated, or you think it's your fault for what happens in your life? How can you change your relationship? How can you make it better?"
There are two ways of dealing with this issue.
Are you appreciating yourself? If you are judging yourself and telling yourself that 'it's your fault' for what happens in your life, then it sounds like you are not seeing or appreciating yourself. Frequently, others treat us the way we treat ourselves. Do you like yourself? Do you love yourself? Do you value yourself? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself.
Imagine that your feeling self is a little child within. Does this inner child feel loved, valued and appreciated by you? This is where you need to start.
If you were truly loving and valuing yourself – rather than judging yourself and then expecting your partner to make you feel appreciated – and if then your partner did not appreciate you, you would need to accept that your partner might not be a very appreciative person. But from the way you have worded your question, I wonder if you are abandoning yourself by not valuing and appreciating yourself, which leads to pulling on your partner to give you what you are not giving to yourself. Perhaps your partner is going into resistance against being made responsible for your good feelings about yourself.
One way to change your relationship is to focus on changing yourself. You have to accept that you have no control over who your partner chooses to be, but you have total control over who you choose to be. It's quite possible that your relationship will change for the better when you are willing to take 100% responsibility for your own feelings.
This means that when you feel unappreciated, you go inside and see how you might be abandoning yourself. Are you ignoring your feelings? Are you judging yourself? Are you numbing your feelings with various addictions? Are you pulling on your partner to take care of your feelings?
Exploring With Your Partner
Of course we all like to be appreciated. It feels sad inside when we are not appreciated. If you are taking loving care of yourself and truly appreciating yourself, then you need to move into an intent to learn with your partner, saying something like, "It feels to me that you don't appreciate me. There must be a good reason for this. Is there something going on with you or between us that makes it hard for you to appreciate me?"
Maybe your partner feels that he or she does appreciate you, and feels that you don't seem to take in the appreciation. Perhaps your partner is in resistance to some controlling behavior that you are not aware you are doing. Perhaps your partner doesn't appreciate himself or herself. If this is the case, he or she can't really appreciate you.
Opening up the dialogue with your partner can lead to some new awareness for both of you – if both of you are open to learning about yourselves and each other. Intimacy is fostered when partners are able to talk about these kinds of issues with kindness and caring toward themselves and each other.
If your partner gets closed and defensive, then you need to manage this issue within yourself. You cannot make anyone open themselves to learning with you. I know that it is hard to let go of trying to get your partner to see and value you, but since you don't have this control, focusing on seeing and valuing yourself will bring you much inner joy – and might improve your relationship.
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Today, ask yourself throughout the day, "What does my inner child need from me as a loving Adult to feel safe in interactions with people? Does my child need me to not take rejection personally? Does my child need me to stay strong in my truth and not give myself up to anyone?" Focus today on creating a safe inner space for your inner child to feel connected with others.
By Dr. Margaret Paul