I wasn’t planning on writing a new post so soon but a recent blog post by Betul on the Pointless Overthinking blog has tied in with a thought raised by both a tv show I’ve been watching and a blog post by Kylara ( links to both further down ) about sense of value and how we so often put a value both on ourselves ( for our percieved strengths and weaknesses compared to others in the same areas ) and upon others both near ( friends and family ) and far ( world leaders and tv stars ).
We all do it to one degree or another. We choose to read this post or vote for that candidate; to make friends with that person or give money to that charity. Quite frankly we couldn’t live without some kind of discernment of who and what were most relevant or valued in our lives but, like all things, it’s so easy for us to get carried away. To assume that valuing one thing makes another somehow lesser or to be outside of a valued group makes us less valuable.
It’s interesting how we go from “this person is someone I can connect with/has some attribute I like,” to “this person is more valuable than that one”.
At the same time there’s also the question of why we think weakness is a bad thing when it is, so often the thing which shows our strengths as we struggle to overcome, circumvent or come to terms with it.
In Kylara’s recent post about taking care of your mental health while following a pagan path ( http://kylarathought.blogspot.com/2020/02/mental-care-is-self-care.html ) this came out most strongly in the point that we so often find ourselves wanting to live up to some image of the perfect follower that has been created for us to, well, follow and when we inevitably fall short this is something that is seen as shameful and failure, when really it’s part of who we are. Growing from and dealing with these parts of us are our strengths and show the power in us that is hidden and unused if we don’t have it to face.
At the same time the programme I was watching had a young man with autism who felt he had to prove to himself that he had value, because people had told/treated him all his life as though he was of less value than others. Watching him over the course of several episodes it became obvious that he had been valued not for his personality but for his disability; For their comparison of him to other, more mentally able, people.
You could see, in each fight to converse with people or face new situations, a deep strength and calm focus which he brought out of himself and they shone through as he found confidence in facing these struggles.
Then I read Betul’s recent post ( https://pointlessoverthinking.com/2020/02/23/do-you-belong/ ) on the Pointless Overthinking blog, about how we lose ourselves in belonging and it reminded me of my own struggles with being part of a community. The sense of needing to be part of a group and match others so that I would be of value; the feeling that not being able to interact at times made me less and that I needed to hide parts of myself to fit in; even the memory of times when I felt ostracized and, because of that, valueless.
I realised that I had lived most of my life with the idea that if one didn’t have those qualities deemed ‘good’ then that meant I had to have the ones deemed ‘bad’ ( in a value sense ).
However, the thing is that value, though a fine thing for connecting to others, isn’t like justices’ scales. If one value tips the weight down on one side it doesn’t mean those without it are thrown in the air on the other side. It most certainly doesn’t mean that all that are not like one mould, or in one group, are lesser because of it.
I’m sure everyone’s now saying “but I don’t do that”. So let me ask you, when you last had a vote for government did you think “I like that person so the other one standing must be awful” or was it more “I like this persons ideas but that one has some good ones too”?
And it’s not just in others we do this. Have you ever found yourself feeling less worthy because you weren’t like that amazing neighbour who managed to cook a 5 course meal for ten or because you weren’t among your colleagues chatting about some tv show?
I don’t know about you but I do, every time I feel tired and low; I still find myself wanting to be part of chats where I really have nothing to add just so I don’t feel less valued; I even, sometimes, feel low because all I see are the values that don’t fit in and the faults that look worst. I guess the only difference is that I’ve learnt that I am strong enough to feel valued again tomorrow.
So, next time you feel on values’ scales remember, you aren’t alone and, no matter what’s said or done, you’re as valuable for who you are as anyone else in this world.