Pigeon of Discontent: “No One Appreciates Me.”

Each week, I post a video about some Pigeon of Discontent raised by a reader. Because, as much as we try to find the Bluebird of Happiness, we’re also plagued by the Pigeons of Discontent.

This week’s Pigeon of Discontent, suggested by a reader, is:  “No one appreciates me.”


No One Appreciates Me.

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…

Taken for granted? 5 tips for dealing with feeling unappreciated.

5 mistakes I continue to make in my marriage.

Why I try not to do things for others, but instead, do them for myself.

How about you? Do you often feel unappreciated or unacknowledged? How do you deal with it? Gold stars! I crave them.

You can post your own Pigeon of Discontent at any time; also, from time to time, I’ll make a special call for suggestions.

You can check out the archives of videos here.

  • This totally resonates with me. I love your resolution tips!  Going to take it to heart and start “doing it for myself” !

  • ayearinskirts

    Great post! Yes, do it for yourself. That does help tremendously. It even helps when trying to break bad habits. Changing my mindset, from “I’m cleaning to please my husband” (which does help some) to “I’m cleaning because I like a clean home”. 

  • Yes, I too love gold stars. (I had to laugh at the sight of you holding one of those sticker strips you can buy at Walgreens or Target. I should get some.) Reminding myself that I’m doing something because it’s important to ME does take the edge off the frustration I feel when no one else notices. And successfully combating those “woe-is-me” feelings feels like a gold star accomplishment all on its own. (And I do think I’ll get those stickers. Having a sense of humor about it all helps too.)

  • Hey!  Love your outlook on this!  Thanks for addressing my Pigeon!  🙂  

  • Kay

    I really like that Gretchen. That’s a new way of looking at things for me and I think it will help with my disposition quite a bit. Right now I’m cleaning out all the cabinets and closets in my house, in an effort to get ready for a massive number of house guests during my daughter’s graduation week. I realize now that without this switch in focus I could very easily set myself up for disappointment when no one – my husband, my daughter, my houseguests – no one commends my efforts or notices my results. So, for rest of the time I am going to clean out the cupboards for me! And I will be very happy with what I accomplish!

  • Glenda

    It’s funny my pigeon of discontent is people wanting gold stars. I will do the laundry like clockwork twice a week, always have supper on the table, breakfast made on the week ends, run errands for everyone, get the groceries, tidy the house daily and well you get the picture without expecting anyone to notice and I don’t mind. Really. My husband who is retired will announce every time he processes our paper work (once a month) that it is an arduous job, he will go into painstaking detail about how long it took him, how demanding and annoying it is, he will go on about how much there is and how much he hates doing it. He acts like it is a task worthy of some kind of trophy at the end of. If I complained about all the housework I had to do and went on about how much there was I’d never be quiet but I just accept that it’s there and do it. I really wish he’d do the same! I always thank him for doing it but I find it silly having to when I think I do just as much if not more  than he does and seriously don’t expect any recognition!

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes, those of us who crave gold stars really get on the nerves of others. I know it about myself.
      It’s too bad, too, that people who are the most reliable are often the ones most taken for granted. Because they never slip up, everyone forgets what they’ve done.
      Gold stars for you!

      • Glenda

        You’re very kind! In fairness to my husband though he does not take me for granted even though he is a gold star seeker he does hand out his fair share. I think my pigeon has more to do with the need for stars.  I believe in just doing what ought  to be done and I guess to use the vernacular shutting up about it! I also feel if you do something kind it is essential not to look for thanks or kudos. Thanks for the kind words.

  • To deserve praise we need to raise the bar. It’s pretty sad to need congratulations for small, meaningless accomplishments like cleaning out a cupboard. If you want to get noticed then do something great! 

    • gretchenrubin

      Cleaning out a cupboard isn’t small or meaningless. Little things matter, more perhaps than they should.

  • Peninith1

    Such an interesting pigeon. I have lived alone (as a parent from 1983 until 1996, when the kids fledged, when I became totally solitary). I enjoyed praise when I was working–for something praiseworthy. Now I am retired–and REALLY there is no one to notice what I do, but guests, whether visiting family or others.

    This discussion seems to be a lot about housework. The household virtues are, for me, truly their own reward. Over the years I’ve been the only person to do cleaning, tidying up, taking out trash, seeing to car and yard maintenance, bills, taxes, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, insurance, home maintenance and repairs–and over time, I’ve take more and more pride and pleasure in doing these things well or in finding truly competent help. “Other stuff” like sending cards or writing notes, or entertaining–well, I do what I WANT to do in those departments for sure.

    The emotional baggage tied to whether or not I am getting gold stars, appreciation, or gratitude just does not come into it. When I was first living single after a very difficult marriage, doing or not doing everything was a decision fraught with resistance or desire to please the newly absent critic / dispenser of stars. I had to learn to ‘just do stuff’ because I wanted to, or because it needed to be done, not because of punishment or praise.

    This has sometimes been lonely. But it has also become rewarding. I’ve also become very grateful (and a showerer of gold stars) to anyone who steps in and lends a hand while visiting or out of neighborliness. And I am aware that it is a privilege to have other people to share a home with and ‘do for’ as well as a source of integrity and self-esteem to do tasks for oneself.

    • Kat

      Thank you for that insight. You took me back to the many years I was single, and what I take for granted now. I love that you are grateful for your friends and neighbors who help you.

      Too often, we don’t appreciate that we have loved ones to do things for. Light bulb moment for me. Thanks!

  • Good point. Although I can definitely see this strategy working better when I’m, oh, say, baking something with chocolate in it versus doing yet another load of laundry. 🙂

    • One thing that helps me is thinking of it as a gift to my future self.  I like having nice smelling clothes in good repair, with no set-in stains.  When I do the laundry, I give myself that gift.  When I do the dishes after dinner, I give myself the gift of a clean sink in the morning, with a peaceful breakfast rather than scrubbing dried-on remnants in the pan.  My future-self is quite appreciative and is happy to give my past-self gold stars.

  • Ally

    This is really good.  Resentment is such an easy habit to fall into.  I found that when I assigned my husband keeping the dish rack empty, I was seething most of the time because he did it half as often as I would.  All those clean dishes piled all over the place made me nuts and I knew there would be zero gold stars from my doing the job.  So I decided that if it meant that much to me, I should… do it for myself.  Meanwhile, around this time he became pretty much the only one who starts up the dishwasher.  It’s closed so I can tune out that it is full of dirty dishes, and it pleases me when I see that it is on – we each do what matters most to us, and no gold stars needed!

  • Ann

    I made myself a chore chart and bought some gold stars. It helps, because housework is a task that never gets done, and I hate that kind of thing. This way, I can look at the chart and see that, yes, I actually did it, even if it doesn’t look done anymore.

  • Martha

    Ever since I read this in your book, I’ve realized this is an important one for me!  For example, I have created the family tradition of making a special birthday dinner for everyone in our family.  I always ask the birthday person what they want, and I make it a special evening.  There is one person who does not show much appreciation, and it’s hard not to be disappointed.  But I am actually doing the birthday dinners to show my love for my family members.  That’s what it’s about.  So when this one individual doesn’t act happy, it doesn’t really matter.  I have still done what I want!

  • S_ifat

    For the first time I don’t relate to what you are saying. And I’m happy about it 🙂 cause I almost never care for the gold star. I just don’t care what others think of what I’ve done, it’s so obvious to me that everything I do, I do for me. this can be a good explaination for my mountain of laundry…
    First Pigeon that does not live in my head 🙂

  • What a superb tip. Really excellent. Rather took my breath away in fact. 

  • Mainejunklist

    I love this concept. My DH craves “stars” …its both a blessing and a curse. He likes to take on household projects as a “suprise” for me. For example, spending all w/e paining the bathroom as a “suprise.”   Secretly, i never want the ‘suprises.” I fluxuate between showering him with gold stars b/c he’s so excited about the “surprise” and I know he’ll be resentful if i dont give big gold stars or just having a low key response b/c i am acutally  annoyed about the “suprise” and i just cant fake the gold stars. I think I just need to be really direct with him….do it for you…not for me.  Not sure how this will go over with a gold star junkie  but I need a new strategy.

  • Bunnyluvr68

    For those of you who enjoy gold stars, try the free app called “Errands.” I am in no way affiliated, but it has helped me feel a sense of accomplishment / satisfaction after completing the mundane chores (like housework) that seem never-ending. For instance, I do laundry, change the sheets and water the plants every Sunday. These are repeat tasks on my to-do list, yet checking them off gives me that gold star. Then I don’t need it from anyone else.

  • Kate

    FYI, the link to “Taken for Granted” actually links up to the marriage post!

  • calypte

    I can so relate to this .  When I am overlooked for praise or reward, I get very resentful.  I have been known to quit jobs, stop volunteering and just plain having a “snit” over this.  A chnage of attitude on my part is overue.  I will stop seeking approval…wish me luck.

  • Bransons Nantucket

    Stand up wth confidence and face all challenges  with a smile you will find the  world following you.

  • Traci

    I really enjoy the Pigeon of Discontent video series.  This week’s pigeon is a familiar one to me.  I’m also a “gold star seeker”, especially about housework (as others also have posted).  I’ve used your “I’m doing this for me” reframing, and it has helped me immensely.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that this strategy resonates with you. It’s surprising to me how much it does help.


  • Elise

    Right now I am dealing with a very bad situation involving my teenage daughter being the subject of a friends codependence.  He claims that he wants to simply make her happy and is resentful that she doesn’t appreciate his efforts.  No only does he do tons of nice things for her but he also tries to help her fix her problems.  So I guess in this situation he is feeling the extreme level of “no one appreciates me.”  It is hard to be on the receiving end of  all that giving.  It puts the burden on my daughter to have to appreciate unwanted attention, help and gifts. 

  • Although I can definitely see this strategy working better when I’m, oh,
    say, baking something with chocolate in it versus doing yet another
    load of laundry.

  • Haru

    I’ve always been a good listener. But whenever I try to help someone by giving advices and such, they never appreciate it. They would always say things like ‘Don’t boss me around’ or ‘Shut up. I don’t need your help.’ It hurts me so much… Why are people so mean to me? I never meant anything bad; I simply wanted to help them. My boyfriend cheers me up and tells me not to care about them. But that is easier said than done. Is there anyway I can deal with this problem? Please help me.. Thanks.