Recognition Button: Finding Your Self-Worth in Yourself

Do you know someone who thrives when they are noticed? When they are appreciated or praised? They aim to please, go above and beyond what’s expected, and are highly motivated by teamwork. Always looking for words of affirmation and approval, this social butterfly personality will pour into a high-energy environment to foster a warm and caring atmosphere. Doesn’t sound like a bad person to spend time with, right?

Well, while these are all great qualities, there are also downsides to this type of behavioral style… especially when the person does not get the recognition they so desire.  Before we jump into what that looks like, let’s start with this: Yearning for approval from others is not abnormal. Nor is it a bad thing. However, relying on others to fully sculpt your sense of self is where we run into an issue. 

So what are the three most common negative Recognition-driven reactions? More importantly, how can you RESET and return to a positive response?  

Act out – If attention and admiration don’t come, garnering recognition through interruption, over-talking, and flat-our tantrums can arise. 

What to do when you feel like acting out / What to do instead –

  1. Recognize – do you hear yourself or the other person getting louder? 
  2. Breath – stop talking, pause, and breathe. A deep breath – slow inhale and slow exhale. Begin to listen. There are other people who might deserve the recognition you’re searching for.
  3. Acknowledge Others – Who else might deserve a moment in the spotlight? Fix your sights on them. There are other people who might deserve the recognition you’re searching for and recognizing others for what they do feels good. Try it.


Self-doubt – You accomplish something big, you wait for recognition, and it never comes. As each moment passes without kind words or a shout-out shot your way, the self-doubt kicks in. Did you do a good job? Are people disappointed? What do they think of you?

What to do when you start doubting yourself / What to do instead –

  1. Reflect – Did you do what you could? Did you do your best? 
  2. Center Yourself – You know your worth. Are you proud of your work? What’s your favorite part about what you did? Remind yourself that you have value and your accomplishments have value outside of what others think and say.
  3. Be Direct – Do your peers know you flourish when you are sprinkled with affirmation from others? Perhaps they didn’t know or maybe they forgot to say something. Ask questions like “did what I did meet your expectations?”, “what could I have done better?”, “what was the most helpful part of my work?” to get them to talk with you about your accomplishments.


Withdrawal – You worked hard, you poured in your everything, and time after time nobody has noticed… or at least they haven’t vocalized that they noticed to you. From the life of the party and the soul of the team to a shut-in who resents team projects and pulls away from work itself, withdrawal sets in.

What to do when you feel yourself withdrawing / What to do instead –

  1. Share – Perhaps your team doesn’t know about your need for their approval. Saying something to a peer, a leader, or a close friend can open a door of conversation and allow each side to express themselves more fully.
  2. Empathize – Label your feelings. You’re allowed to feel and feel deeply. From frustration to anger to sadness to disappointment, call it what it is. It’s much easier to dismantle a feeling and to move past a feeling once it’s been properly addressed. 
  3. Rest – Take a break. What do you need to feel more like yourself? A nap? A three-day weekend? A treat-yourself moment? With our without actual outside acknowledgment, acknowledge that you accomplished something and deserve rest.

It’s easy to feel discouraged when you feel you’ve done a good job and no recognition comes from it. We aren’t meant to do life alone and when others don’t articulate your value, it can be isolating. Learn these manifestations of the Recognition Button going off and practice the tips on how to handle disarming the button. Find peace in this: regardless of what others say, you are worthy and incredible.