Only 30 percent of American employees feel engaged or inspired at their jobs and the vast majority of U.S. workers — 70 percent — are not reaching their full potential, a Gallup study concluded in 2013.

In June, 2014 a report released by the Conference Board, reported in Forbes magazine, that 52.3% of Americans were unhappy in their work.

The Atlantic writes in 2014 that, “Just one-fifth of employees report believing that their workplaces strongly value them.”

The Atlantic continues that a Gallup report tallies up the cost of unhappy, disengaged employees to the U.S. economy at $350 billion annually due to lost productivity.

Boil this down, and it comes to one key ingredient . . .

being undervalued.

Whether it is through inadequate work conditions, insufficient compensation (wage, salary, and benefits), mismanagement, or company greed, the inevitable result is that the toll taken is on our self worth.

It doesn’t just happen in the workplace. It happens in our personal lives as well.  And when it happens at this closer level – family, friends, lovers, neighbors –  the pain is deeper.  Not feeling heard, understood, or appreciated – anywhere, by anyone –  releases toxicity into relationships that can be damaging, even lethal, if unattended.

So how do you guard your heart when you’ve been devalued?

  1. Accept what is. This is not passivity; it is committing to seeing things clearly as they are, rather than as you wish them to be.  It is reminding yourself that you are not defined by this one environment, incident, or relationship.  Let yourself honestly feel the pain, loss, frustration, helplessness . . . but do not torture yourself.  Avoid martyrdom.
  2. Search to see if there is any action you can take to change or improve the environment and/or relationship(s). Once identified, take the action. If not – the Beatles had it right – let it be.
  3. Remind yourself of what you know to be true about your genuine value. Reviewing your skills, talents, assets, and accomplishments is part of this reflection. Recognizing your intrinsic, innate value is more foundational and not related to your performance. Exploration of all of the above is essential to come to a place of clarity and peace inside you.
  4. Hang with those who respect, appreciate, and support the best in you. These relationships are essential to your well-being. Avoiding toxic, diminishing communication and interaction keeps you flexible and solid. It heals the wounds and strengthens your awareness of true self worth.
  5. Seek out opportunities to contribute from the best of yourself. Don’t hold back. Give to those who will receive.
  6. Celebrate with those who cherish life and cherish you.  Avoid the cynical; they deplete your energy.
  7. Don’t allow someone else’s blindness to dim your own vision of yourself. Keep your eyes wide open, your ears alert, and your heart receptive.  Those who see you clearly in all of your human flaws and your divine essence; these kindred spirits appreciate the gift you are to us all.  You remember then that you are uninvisible.