Have you ever felt as if other people take you for granted or that whatever you do it’s never good enough? For me, it used to be feeling that I wasn’t worthy or valuable, as if I had nothing of value to contribute to the world. It wasn’t something I noticed immediately, it was a feeling that grew over time. I thought that by always saying yes to people I was helping them out. At work, I continuously went over and above. With friends I would be thoughtful and empathetic, listening to what was going on with them and sometimes putting my thoughts or time to the side and prioritising theirs. I’d do the same with family, rescheduling things that I had really wanted to do, so that I could attend every family gathering.
I enjoyed the interactions I had with people but as time went by and the months turned to years, I started to notice that I was no longer feeling as fulfilled. At work no-one noticed that I went over and above anymore and it was expected that I help other colleagues with their work. It had become expected that I stay late, and expected that I was the person that could get things done and handle tough situations. It was expected now, when before I had been recognised for it, even praised and thanked.
It felt good to be needed but because I had set the standard that became expected of me, people stopped saying thank you and expected even more. I felt like I wasn’t being valued in my role and I watched as other people progressed beyond me even though I was doing all the work. The same thing happened with family and friends until I noticed that I had stopped having fun. I realised that I was doing so much for others and not much for myself. Instead of friends noticing how much I was doing and reciprocating, they appeared to keep wanting more of my time and more of my help. I began to wonder if I was too nice.
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I used to enjoy giving so much of myself, but now that I wasn’t getting back the acknowledgement that I had come to expect, I started to think that there was something wrong. I began to notice at times even feeling a little resentful. The thing is, I really did love my family and friends and I really wanted to keep my job and continue to go over and above like I had been. I didn’t want to lose any of it. I just wanted to feel more worthy, to feel valued and worthwhile. So, I started looking for how this happened. I didn’t want to blame others. I wanted to work out how I could have contributed to why I was feeling this way, and to understand more about myself.
Become aware of the problem
I heard a story once that started changing my perspective on how to approach problems like these. It was of a lady who had an amazing garden. She had the most beautiful roses in so many different colours and she loved being out in the garden everyday checking the soil, watering the plants and pulling out the weeds. It was beautiful and so cared for. People would walk past her garden and comment on the roses, on the flowers and how well looked after everything was. As time went by she would go out in the garden less and less frequently. People stopped commenting on how well maintained and lovely her garden was.
Occasionally she’d step outside and look around the garden. When people remarked that there were weeds poking through the soil, she’d say ‘there are no weeds’ and walk back into the house. The weeds grew more and more and she wouldn’t acknowledge them, she’d just say ‘there are no weeds’. The weeds started to weave their way through the roses so the flowers were harder and harder to see and still she’d turn away and say ‘there are no weeds’.
One day a friend was visiting and commenting on how beautiful the garden used to be before the weeds took over. The woman started to say ‘there are no weeds’ when her friend took her out into the garden and stood her in front of what was a beautiful rose bush with flowers almost fully hidden amongst the weeds. Her friend stood and pointed at the rose bush and said ‘look, there are weeds’. You can say there’s no weeds and try to convince yourself that you are only seeing the positives, but admit it, there are weeds’.
The lady looked at the garden and as if for the first time, she saw how run down it was and started crying as she saw all the weeds. Her friend was caring and reassured her that it gets easier once you see the weeds because as soon as you notice the weeds, that’s when you can start pulling them out. Together they got to work on a small area and cleared one rose bush. Then they stood back with pride and admired it before celebrating having cleared one. Each day thereafter the lady did another section, and another and another, celebrating and admiring her rose bushes more and more. Once again she enjoyed being out in her beautiful garden and found the joy in taking care of it each day.
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There are so many things I love about this story! What stands out the most for me, is that just like the woman with the garden, it wasn’t until I noticed that I was feeling unvalued that I could do something about it. I had let the feeling grow slowly, and for a long time I pushed it to one side thinking it was other people or that I shouldn’t be feeling unvalued. As soon as I took responsibility for feeling valued within myself then it wasn’t about doing everything at once, or doing things only for others. Instead it was a process of learning little by little and growing more and more over time. This is how I started.
Sometimes we do more and more because a part of us is comparing ourselves with others. It could be that we’ve compared ourselves to a friends facebook post, a popular instagram post or a successful actor or athlete. But it isn’t always famous people that we compare ourselves to. Perhaps it’s someone at work, a friend or family member. Maybe they’re always talking about the money they are making, the holiday they are going on or it seems as if their life or lifestyle is what you wish your life was more like. Sometimes comparing with others can help us to feel more grateful for what we have in our lives, but other times we might end up feeling less than great about ourselves or our life. When this happens it could result in overcompensating and doing more and more for others so that we feel more worthwhile, or that we’re keeping up and not falling behind them, or even just to feel good enough.
Media is so accessible and it’s easy to see what other people are doing and how that compares to your day to day life. The thing about social media though, is that it isn’t a true reflection of life. More often it is a post of the garden when it had no weeds and we don’t see the messiness of life. Instead we’re shown just the well chosen moments, the photo with the best filter, best angles, best smile. The image of a rosy moment frozen in time. But that’s not real life. Our lives are dynamic and changing and growing like a garden. Just as others choose what they show the world, so do we get to choose what we show others.
Knowing this, it’s a good idea to be mindful of who you are comparing yourself to and what emotions it brings up for you. Sometimes people use social media to distract themselves from how they feel about their lives or as a way to ignore the weeds for a moment. What they often don’t realise, is that this way of distraction can add to those feelings of not being good enough and can actually build on those less than great feelings instead of helping them to feel better. When I became more aware of this, I started to find other ways of leading myself to more positive emotions that would help me to go out and care for my garden of life.
So, If you are having a particularly less than great moment or feeling less than valued, step away from social media and find something to do that helps you to feel more nurtured or more positive emotions. It could be as simple as making a cup of tea, reading a book, relaxing on the beach, listening to upbeat music or calling a friend to connect. Do whatever works for you, and if you’re not sure what works, simply doing something other than social media and trying different things will help.
When we are looking for value from others sometimes it can be because we are not feeling it within ourselves or that we are not feeling important. When this happens, we tend to look for external ways to achieve this feeling. How often do you celebrate and feel good about the things that you do and achieve? What about the everyday things? It might sound silly at first, but the more we celebrate and feel good about the things we do, the less we look for others to fulfill this need. It’s healthy to want to feel significant and worthwhile so finding positive ways to fulfill this within ourselves is important for overall happiness and wellbeing.
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"After many years of training, courses, and counselling in various forms I thought I had certain aspects of my life sorted. Yet completing Emotion Academy showed me that I had been running away from my emotions and not facing them. After Emotion Academy, now I have the tools to engage with myself and win the internal battles once and for all - Neil Welsh, Victoria
I began by making a personal achievements list and celebrated all the things I had done in my life. I included everything! Not just the big things like significant birthdays, graduating school or university, buying my first house and travelling on my own. I celebrated the little things too, like learning to walk when I was a toddler! It would have felt like a big deal back when I was 1 or 2, and I can feel good about it now too. When you think about it, that was a massive achievement for where my level of capability was, at that time. I included things like when I helped a friend, when I felt nervous and still walked up and said hello to someone that I was interested in and when I achieved something at school or in my job. I looked back through my life and included any time that I had overcome a challenging task or ordeal. Now I keep the list handy so that anytime I am feeling a bit down I can look at it and realise all the things that I have done or overcome and can feel good about how far I’ve come. I also keep it handy as I’m constantly adding to it!
Share in your successes!
If you’ve let this feeling of being undervalued grow, like I did, or if it has been going on for a while now, it is possible that you might have started to feel isolated. It might feel as if you’re the only person who is being treated this way or feeling how you’ve been feeling which can lead to the perception of being all alone. If this happens, it is very important that you find support and you talk about it. You will realize that you’re not the only one who is experiencing this which means that you don’t have to feel so alone.
Finding people who support you and who help you celebrate your successes, people you can learn and grow with, who help to solve problems will make all the difference. It can be great to talk to people about what’s going on, especially people who you can feel safe with and who you know have a positive outlook and who want to help you find solutions. It’s important to be aware of the people you’re connecting with and to check in with yourself by asking ‘Do I feel supported?’ and ‘Does it feel like they’re wanting to help me solve this problem, or does talking with them feel like it’s an even bigger problem?’.
There’s a pretty good chance that if you are not feeling valued, then others are not feeling valued also. If you already celebrate and compliment others, great! If not, then imagine what could happen if you start recognising the work or value that others are adding to you too. When I began doing this, I noticed that people were complimenting me more and acknowledging all the great things I was doing and feeling proud of. You may find that when you do this too, others start reciprocating and noticing the great things that you are doing also.
By learning to give first to others, the significance and acknowledgement that I wanted, I was able to feel more valued within myself and know that I could give that to myself also. When you start to feel more significant and valued inside yourself, there is less comparison with others, it can feel great to genuinely celebrate others achievements and your own.
Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer
Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight. In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.
Make time for yourself!
It’s important to keep doing things you enjoy doing for fun. Taking time to rejuvenate and rest can give you more energy to help others. When I started doing more things that I enjoyed for fun, sometimes others would join me and that was awesome. Other times I just wanted to be by myself to recover and clear my head from a busy day or week. When I was starting out having fun, after not doing it for a while, I wasn’t sure what I really liked to do anymore. So I made a list of the things I could do for fun and I tried out everything on that list! I learned to stand up paddle board, I went to meet people at meetups, I hosted dinner parties and tried cooking new recipes with my friends, I spent time out on my friends boat and I started reading different books and watching movies I might not have watched before.
Over time I learned which activities I really enjoyed, and which ones helped me to re-energise and feel totally relaxed. I kept adding to my list so that when I felt a bit flat, tired or rundown, I could look at the list and choose something for fun that would pick me up. The things that you enjoy could be really simple like listening to music, going to the cinema, going for a walk, visiting the beach, making juice, reading a book, going for a run or having a luxurious bubble bath.
Everyone is different and has different ways to have fun, whether it’s in a relaxing or chilled kind of way or an energetic and social way. Just do what makes sense for you and start a list of things you love to do for fun. Each week, pick something from your list to start with and block out the time for yourself. Protect that time because your time is important too! Plus, by taking care of yourself first, you’ll have even more energy to give to others.
Adding value to others is a choice, and can be so much more fulfilling and enjoyable when you’re doing it from a place of having given yourself that feeling of value first. Being able to add value to others in a positive way is also highly sought after in a career, and strengthening relationships with friends, family and in so many aspects of life. It all starts with feeling significant and valuable within yourself first, accepting that you choose to add value and that sometimes it may mean changing your plans. Finally, remembering that it’s also important to make time for yourself so that you can give to others in the way that you want to.
I really love that I get to give so much more of myself now. Whether it’s being more present and compassionate with my friends and family, or being able to add even more value at work and feel proud of myself for having come so far, I still practise all the steps in this article because I know they helped me to feel more valuable and appreciative of everything I have to offer.
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