In this week’s Love Essentially column, published in Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press, I share a quote by Muhammad Ali that is applicable to those feeling unappreciated. Check it out!
Muhammad Ali Can Help Those Feeling Unappreciated by Jackie Pilossoph for Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press
Of all the smart and wonderfully inspiring things said by Muhammad Ali, who died last week at age 74, this is one of my favorites.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth,” said the heavyweight champion and civil rights activist who deemed himself “The Greatest.”
While the quote invokes the importance of giving back, it is also very applicable to an issue I hear from a lot of people when it comes to relationships: the disappointment of feeling unappreciated.
Feeling unappreciated makes a person feel frustrated, resentful, sad and hopeless. It makes you feel like others have a sense of entitlement to all your hard work and effort.
Although they are deeply loved by us, kids are the biggest offenders when it comes to making us feel unappreciated. It’s not their fault and they don’t do it intentionally, but kids have no clue how much their parents actually do for them and hence, show little appreciation. The behavior should be expected. Just know that deep in their hearts, kids do feel some gratitude. Nonetheless, it doesn’t make it any easier when you feel like all you ever do is give and no one even blinks an eye or says thanks.
Then there’s your spouse. Feeling unappreciated in marriage is something I hear from countless couples, and is in my opinion, the biggest cause of marital distress. It is so simple and easy to say thank you to a spouse for the thoughtful things and hard work he or she does to make you happy, yet people tend to opt out of showing gratitude. This causes resentment, less thoughtful gestures and a breakdown in the couple’s emotional connection, which then can lead to less romance and sex and more frustration, arguments and anger.
If you are divorced and waiting for your ex to appreciate you, you are dreaming. In divorce, aside from immense resentment, neither parent has any idea what the other does for the kids because he or she isn’t around to see it. Furthermore, if you are receiving child support, the person giving it to you can be resentful, which can make you feel unappreciated for all the things you do and the money you spend on the kids that can go above and beyond the child support check you receive each month. If you are giving child support, the recipient probably doesn’t give you a big hug and words of thanks when you hand them the check, so you feel unappreciated.
People can also feel unappreciated in the workplace. If you go the extra mile, do you get recognized? Maybe you worked really hard on a project, worked over the weekend, late into the night, and your boss says “Hey, thanks,” the same way he or she would if you’d have spent an eighth of the time on it.
What I take from Ali’s quote is things you do for others should be done because you want to do them, not because you are seeking praise. They should be done because they give you purpose and make you feel good and worthy of your existence. In other words, a thank-you isn’t what’s important. The act of giving is what matters. If you think of it this way, you won’t feel unappreciated, but instead productive.
Another significant aspect of feeling appreciated is the importance of appreciating yourself. I find that people focus too much on the praise of others, when all we really need to do is look in the mirror. Look at your hard work, the good decisions you make, your ethics and the difference you are making in the lives of others. It is then that you won’t care so much about recognition.
How do you appreciate yourself? By thanking yourself for all you do. Don’t wait for your spouse to buy you flowers, buy them for yourself. Don’t wait for your kids to say, “Thanks, Mom,” but rather treat yourself to a massage or that new pair of sunglasses you’ve had your eye on. Take an afternoon off and go for a nice long bike ride or sit on a beach.
Doing nice things for yourself will accomplish these objectives:
• You will feel less resentful and better about what you do.
• You won’t be waiting for someone to appreciate you because you will have already taken care of that.
• You’ll keep working hard to make a difference in the lives of others because you will have rewarded yourself.
“I am the greatest!” Ali proclaimed after his famous victory over boxing rival Sonny Liston. Remember…(click here to read the rest of the column, published yesterday in Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press.)
Like this article? Check out my post, “Relationship Advice: A Key Word In Being Happy Together“