“I just want him to appreciate me.”
Seems like such an innocent and even a reasonable thought. You work so hard and handle so much. Sometimes you just wish your spouse would acknowledge all that you’re doing for him and your family. After all, everyone wants to feel appreciated!
Perhaps it’s not your spouse, but other people you feel like should acknowledge all the hard work you are doing. They don’t understand how tiring it is to take care of a sick spouse while working and taking care of so many household chores! They should at least acknowledge you for your efforts and challenges you have to overcome!
Feeling Unappreciated Sucks
When the things you do for others go unrecognized it can be demoralizing. The problem is when we rely on others for that feeling of appreciation and they don’t give it to us, it can lead to feelings of anger and resentment.
You might be thinking that it’s not so hard to give a simple thank you. Why doesn’t he do it?
Most of us are totally focused on ourselves. With cancer, it is likely that your spouse has lost some control and independence and this fact can be very frustrating for him. He may resent that other people have to now do things for him because he can’t completely take care of himself. No one likes to have to rely on others.
Feeling unappreciated is not something unique to caregiving. It comes up in marriage all the time. You probably had periods where you felt unappreciated before your husband got sick. He didn’t say thank you for the wonderful meal you put together, or the trip you painstakingly planned for the family. Or perhaps it was even just the daily things you did that were taken for granted.
We all recognize when someone is fishing for a compliment. They may state all they have done, waiting for someone to compliment them. Even though it is true, it comes across as needy. When someone does complement them, it’s more from a sense of obligation. This is what happens when we rely on others for our own validation. It comes across needy and graspy because it is! We have literally ceded our emotional state to others!
Delegating Our Emotions
The problem with waiting for others to appreciate us is that by doing so we delegate our emotional wellbeing to them. When you wait for your husband or your family or co-workers to say good job, or thank you, before you feel good about yourself, you can end up feeling terrible, angry, and resentful if they don’t comply.
We are always responsible for our own emotional wellbeing. This is good news, truly!
This does not mean we should not acknowledge and appreciate others. Or, that we should spend time with people who don’t appreciate us.
What is does mean is that we should not base our own feeling of validation on the opinions of others. This is always true, whether we are talking about seeking appreciation, approval, acceptance, or love. Those feelings do not come from what others say to us. They come from what we say to ourselves!
Pat Yourself On The Back
You are the only one who can make you feel appreciated.
Really think about this. When someone does praise or appreciate you, you will only feel good if you agree with what they say. If you don’t agree, you will brush off their comment, or diminish it. What you think about their comment will determine how you feel, not their comment.
You have to choose to acknowledge and appreciate yourself for what you are doing, regardless of what other people say or don’t say.
Your emotional wellbeing is always in your control, and that is a beautiful thing!
So go ahead, pat yourself on the back! You deserve it!
Learning to manage our emotional state is a skill. This is something that I help my clients to develop. Appreciating yourself is a must when you are a caregiver.
If you need help building the skill of self appreciation, click here to sign up for a consult and I’ll see how I can help.