My sister, who’s a mum, once said to me: “Those who expect gratitude for bringing up kids, are in the wrong job.” She’s got a point, too. We all arrive on this earth helpless and are dependent on our parents; at least while we’re little, it doesn’t occur to us to be grateful for all the care we receive.
On the other hand, parents do one of the hardest jobs on earth and they, like everyone, deserve gratitude. As a society, we’re not doing a great job of making them feel appreciated, in spite of mother’s and father’s days and all the commercial to-do surrounding them. It also makes me wonder how well we’re doing when it comes to other jobs.
A recent study found that nearly 70% of employees in developed countries feel underappreciated. That’s more than 2/3! Maybe it’s time we took a good look at the mechanics of gratitude and appreciation, and determine what we can do so we no longer feel taken for granted.
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Who’s taking you for granted?
If you nodded along when you read the above paragraphs, I invite you to investigate further. Where in your life do you feel underappreciated? Is it as a mum? A partner? A worker/employee? A friend or family member? Try and pinpiont exactly where that aching feeling of lack originates from.
If you find there’s only one or two areas in your life, then it may be time for a change. There is some awesome support for mothers and fathers out there in online groups and in the real world. Go and find likeminded people and share the love – it sounds very hippie, but these things can make a tremendous difference!
If it’s a partner or adult family member you feel taken for granted by, then a frank conversation could be the solution. Try not to sound accusatory. A good way of starting is by saying something like: “There’s always so much going on, I don’t think we take enough time to appreciate each other. Let me start by saying that I’m really grateful to you for xyz,” – and then state something positive. In the next step, you prompt them to reciprocate.
The job situation can be more tricky, but there is a way out of feeling like a universal doormat. Learn to say “no”, speak up in meetings, make yourself heard and seen because the truth is, nobody else is going to do it for you. If you feel like all effort is in vain, then go out and look for a new job. Trust me, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can and should find fulfillment in your work – it’s where you spend 1/3 of your days, after all!
The hard questions
Most of us have been in a situation where we felt taken for granted. However, if this seems to be a pattern in your life and there’s a long list of people or places who don’t appreciate you, there might be something deeper at work. It’s not exactly pleasant, but it can be helpful to ask yourself a few hard questions:
What are you allowing to continue?
In the end, we’re all adults, and as they say, it takes two to tango. If everyone in your life seems to be exploiting your efforts without a single word of gratitude, chances are that your attitude gives them an unspoken invitation to take you for granted. Note: this doesn’t make it okay for them to walk all over you, it simply might be the reason why it’s happening!
It’s often hard to notice, and especially women are hard-wired to please everyone and put themselves last. Ultimately, this attitude doesn’t make anyone happy: You’ll be overworked and resentful, and those around you are affected by your mood. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may wish to look into Coaching or Councelling. Make the effort! You deserve to be appreciated.
What do you take for granted?
Sometimes, we do to others what we definitely don’t want to experience ourselves. Ask yourself whether there’s anyone you rely on a little too implicitly. Is it the old friend who’s always been there for you? Your mother, who’ll jump in without question whenever you need her to? Your partner, who has been picking up the slack for as long as you can remember?
Be conscious of your own treatment of others and make a point of saying thanks, as well as taking some of the emotional load off them. It might cause a shift in other areas of your life as well.
Appreciation and being taken for granted go both ways, so look for opportunities to be grateful. Don’t be shy about expressing your gratitude, either. What you send out energetically, you’ll also attract back into your life.