It doesn’t matter how independent or self-sufficient a person is, there is always a desire to be loved and to feel important in some way. Feeling loved and validated are both very basic human needs.
When you perceive that you’re not loved, that you aren’t being respected or that you aren’t getting the attention you crave from those closest to you, it hurts.
Your sense of self worth usually takes a nose dive and you may wonder what you’ve done to deserve such mistreatment.
Whether it’s your spouse, your partner, your parents, your siblings, your children, your co-workers, your boss or anyone else in your life….
If it seems like you aren’t getting the respect, care or attention you want from another person, it can not only affect your relationship, it can impact your ability to live life as fully satisfied and happy as you’d like.
Being in a painful place like this can feel confining. You might believe that this is just the way relationships are or that you somehow deserve to be ignored or disrespected. You may feel utterly helpless to make any positive changes which makes the whole situation that much worse.
Please know that there ARE things you can do. You can’t force or “make” someone else respect or pay attention to you in the way you desire, but you are NOT helpless.
Try these 5 ways to get more respect, validation and attention in your life…
#1: Get clear about your need.
When you find yourself asking this other person (either out loud or in your mind), “What have you done for me lately?” stop. Go within yourself and listen to the very specific need that you have.
What is really true for you right now?
In my own life, often what initially seems to be bothering me is vastly different than what is REALLY bothering me.
Recently, I felt sad and initially believed that this was because my husband was paying more attention to his new job than he was to me. Before approaching him to talk, I went a little deeper and discovered that I was mostly feeling distant from two of my close friends whom I haven’t connected with in awhile. While making more quality time with my husband is a priority, in this case, my sadness was linked more directly to these friendships.
This clarification allowed me to take action (reach out to these friends) in ways that fulfilled my need.
#2: Meet your own needs yourself.
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you are probably familiar with the emergency directions to secure an air mask or flotation device on yourself BEFORE helping another person. It makes logical sense that, in a disastrous situation, you can actually better assist someone else when you’ve met your own needs first.
These directions apply to everyday life as well.
Too many of us set aside our own needs over and over and over again. We deplete our inner reserves and then end up resentful and burned out. This is the place when a lot of us wonder when somebody, anybody, will treat us nicely!
Believe it or not, you can more easily and fully receive what others are offering when you fulfill your own needs first. If you don’t already do this, make regular time for self-care, pampering and treating yourself with love and kindness.
#3: Acknowledge what IS being given to you.
The beauty of fulfilling your own needs as best as you can is that you are then in a place where you can notice the attention, respect or love that is being offered to you.
It might not look, sound or feel exactly like what you would do for you, but this can be okay.
People show their love and respect in different ways. It could be that the unique manner in which this person is giving you attention or demonstrating respect or love is potentially enriching to you. You won’t know this unless you are able to open up to whatever that is in the first place.
You may be pleasantly surprised and positively stretched when you acknowledge that those close to you ARE being respectful and loving, in their own unique ways.
#4: Make specific requests.
When you start fulfilling your own needs and you open up to what others may be offering you (that you didn’t notice before), you might still feel disappointed or upset. Relationships can be messy and unpleasant at times. People can be insensitive and even abusive.
This is the time to make requests for a change in behavior. Clarity and specificity are both key.
Instead of making a generalizing or vague statements such as, “You never have time for me,” try “I’d like us to commit to one date night each week. Are you willing to make time in your schedule for that?”
Rather than saying, “You don’t ever give me respect,” try “When you use that tone of voice and call me those names, I feel hurt and put down. I will listen to you when you use a softer tone of voice and choose kinder words.”
It’s useful to keep your request focused on what you DO want in terms of specific behavior changes and also a certain time frame, if that is applicable.
#5: Decide what is best for you.
Ultimately, you get to decide what is best for you. Perhaps making a choice to interact with this person differently, to restrict interactions with this person, to get professional help with the relationship or to end the relationship completely is the most effective way for you to meet your needs.
Remember that YOU get to choose how you will be in each of your relationships, including your relationship with your own self.