Feeling belittled by others, what to do?

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Louise Hay


Feeling belittled by others, what to do?

Feeling belittled by your partner, family, or boss is exhausting. How to get out of these situations?

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2021

Feeling belittled is a very common feeling and, let's face it, few realities hurt more than feeling appreciated.

Is this a clear sign of a lack of self-esteem? Perhaps. However, there is an undeniable aspect in this situation: the human being needs to feel part of something or someone. As social (and emotional) beings, confirmation and recognition by those we value is essential nourishment.

We expect it from our partner. Giving and receiving affection, admiring and being admired by the person we love and feeling their support is an indispensable pillar in the couple.

This psychological fabric is the cement of the family unit, as well as on a professional level. Knowing that what we do is appreciated strengthens the image that we have of ourselves. So what happens if all this fails?

Feeling belittled by others and not knowing how to act

The reason why we tend to feel diminished always comes from us. We are programmed, so to speak, to socially confront those around us, almost at any time.

When we perceive ourselves in an inferior situation, an alarm bell goes off. The organism releases cortisol in the blood, therefore our levels of alertness increase. It happens, for example, when we notice that our parents pay more attention to our older brother. Or when the partner does not give weight to that little attention we paid to him.

The brain needs external reinforcement to feel balanced and perceive oneself accepted by the social group to which one belongs. Thus, gratitude, a word of appreciation or daily gestures of affection are dopamine injections capable of strengthening us and making us feel that everything is going well. If this fails for a long time, fear and suffering emerge.

If our partner doesn't appreciate us

Feeling belittled in a relationship is usually a source of tension and even breakup. In some situations there is certainly a real devaluation on the part of the other. What can we do?

First, you need to consider whether your need for reinforcement or appreciation is excessive. In some cases, factors such as insecurity or low self-esteem lead us to expect too much from our partner. Likewise, the frantic search for external approval reveals a shortage of ours. Let's try to think about it.

On the other hand, it is possible that the partner is really belittling us. In this case it is necessary to address the topic and clarify, providing examples of reality.

It would also be good to specify what we expect: appreciation, respect, complicity, support… If nothing changes, we will have to make a decision. Not feeling appreciated in the sentimental field is a slow emotional death that we don't deserve.

Feeling belittled by others, but especially in the family

Depreciation, or even contempt, on the part of family members is harmful at every level. If we have lived them since childhood due to parents who have belittled us in many ways, the effects will be felt for decades. The main consequence is low self-esteem. What to do in this case?

When it is our family members who belittle us, the first step is stop turning our attention to them to bring it back to who, probably, we have neglected for too long: ourselves.

A wound that has lasted for decades must be sutured with the thread of self-love. To repair the tear, we need to strengthen our self-esteem, identity, self-confidence and self-efficacy.

The time has come to appreciate us and our projects. A family that does not appreciate us or that despises us will have to slip into the background, at a healthy distance. Whoever makes devaluation a habit exercises a form of abuse on others.

Feeling belittled by the boss

We spend nearly a third of our life in the workplace. Being immersed in a context in which we feel despised or underestimated ultimately has a high psychological price. There are those who argue that the devaluation of human capital is a feature of our time.

Aspects such as the wage gap between men and women, poor assessment of the potential of the individual worker, low wages or poor working conditions in general are common. What can we do?

Not getting the right consideration at work causes low motivation, stress, and general moodiness. We must be careful not to reach extreme situations that put our health at risk.


Anyone can happen to feel belittled by others. When it happens, we have to start from ourselves. Sometimes we expect others to offer us what we ourselves do not give ourselves.

But if our degree of self-esteem and self-appreciation is sufficient and there is a real problem of devaluation, we need to address it. It is not recommended to carry on this feeling for too long because it wears out, hurts, oxidizes and undermines.

We will have to resolve the situation with assertiveness, claiming what every human being deserves and needs: respect and appreciation.

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