Connie dreaded coming home from work because she knew what she’d be facing….
Clothes strewn all over the living room, a kitchen counter full of “stuff,” a sink full of dirty dishes, overflowing garbage and recycling bins and hungry dogs that needed to be fed.
Since her adult daughter moved in with her and her husband 6 months before when she’d lost her job as a bartender…
Life had been torture for Connie.
She’d never felt like all she did around the house was appreciated but now it was smacked in her face just how taken for granted she really was.
Since her daughter was at home all day, Connie felt that she could at least clean up after herself so Connie could make dinner in a clean kitchen but that never happened.
Every time Connie complained to her daughter about the mess and asked her to clean it up…
All she got in return was what Connie described to us as a “2 year-old fit,” complete with yelling, stomping, huffing and puffing.
Connie got no help from her husband around this because when she complained to him, he would do whatever she wanted to have done rather than talk with their daughter about it.
She was on her own and didn’t see any solution so she contacted us for coaching.
Here are a few things she learned and what might help you as well if you don’t feel appreciated by those in your life…
1. Remember where your feelings come from
Your feelings actually come from the thoughts you’re believing to be true–and they will pass if you allow them to.
Chances are that you don’t always feel unappreciated.
There are probably times that you feel connected to this person and times that you don’t.
When you feel taken advantage of, it can be helpful to stop and discover what you’re telling yourself that you’re believing to be true in that moment.
Connie discovered that she dreaded what she described as the confrontation with her daughter and inevitable attitude she’d get back so she would usually just prefer cleaning up after her and not “get into it.”
In those moments, she told herself that it just wasn’t worth bringing “it” up because she didn’t want to experience her daughter’s reactions.
And it had always been that way so it was easy to see why her daughter often left everything for her to do.
When Connie saw that somewhere inside her she believed that if her daughter blew up and was upset, she wasn’t being a good mother…
She saw how ridiculous that thought was.
She saw that she didn’t need to keep buying into that belief for her own sanity as well as her daughter’s.
As Connie looked inside herself even more deeply, she saw that in so many ways, she didn’t appreciate herself.
Her self-criticism seemed to be on auto-pilot and she could see that if she wanted to be appreciated by others, it had to start with her.
She could start loving herself more by appreciating who she was at her core without constantly putting herself down.
2. Be honest with yourself about your motivation
A question to ask yourself is this…
“What’s my motivation in doing this?”
So often we “do” for someone else what we think they SHOULD want or will make their life better…
But actually we do them to please ourselves.
Connie saw that her need for a clean kitchen and picked up house was because that’s the way SHE liked it and not necessarily how her daughter wanted to live.
Connie hadn’t always been clear about her motivation for “doing.”
She saw that in some cases, she did things for others like her mother-in-law, so she’d get thanked or acknowledged in return and feel good about herself.
But in this situation with her daughter, Connie’s motivation was clear.
She knew she had been trying desperately to keep the house the way she liked it and not how her daughter wanted it.
She realized that she didn’t want to continue the tension that always seemed to be between the two of them.
3. Talk about the “real” issues and specifics not generalities and listen–from your heart
So often when you don’t feel appreciated, that’s what comes out of your mouth as a complaint…
“You don’t appreciate me or anything I do for you!”
When you go “general” or “global,” the other person immediately gets defensive and shuts off listening to what you have to say.
When you’re specific and are open to listening and talking about solutions instead of continuing to focus on the complaint and how you don’t feel appreciated…
You may discover a way that both of you can feel good about whatever the issue is.
When Connie sat down with her daughter the next weekend, instead of focusing on all that was wrong, she asked what plans her daughter had for her future.
They talked about her not feeling good about herself since she’s been unemployed and how she might get another job and possibly go back to college and finish her degree.
Connie asked her how she could support her in her plan and she said she needed help navigating an online job placement site.
Then Connie asked her how she thought the two of them might get along better until she could move out on her own.
They came up with a plan that both of them could live with until that happened.
Will Connie’s daughter always do what she promises?
Maybe not but what Connie saw was that if she connected first with her daughter with love, both of them would be happier and get more of what they each wanted–without all the drama.
Connie saw that this possibility of connection went so much deeper than her need to feel appreciated.
She saw that not feeling appreciated was the sign to take a step back, look at the big picture and take action from a loving place inside her where she didn’t continue to feel victimized.
How about you?