We are taught to search for value
To make sure we get our money’s worth. How much we are willing to pay for a product is one way of assessing how much we prioritise and place importance on objects. We can tend to put value on people in a similar way. There are constant mentions of how much someone is worth and the media attention on celebrity elevates a wide spread message which directly connects with our sense of value. The consequences of the value we place on financial wealth and status undermines other areas of wealth that can truly sustain a fulfilled life and a high sense of self-worth.
Whilst our own value can be linked to how much we earn or how successful our business is, this one-dimensional measure does not equate to how content we are.
There is a clear connection with our belief that our financial status gives us a sense of worth and the degree to which we invest in our own health and well-being. This has increased as the drip drip effect has lead us to make comparison from a faulty unspoken and covert monetary universal measure. The mindset that produces a thought process based in lack and fear also induces judgement and self-criticism if we do not make the grade financially.
Consumerism feeds our insecurities
The 21st century has brought with it a wider divide between those who have and those have not. With the acceleration of consumerism comes a constant underlying message that you will not be important, happy or worthwhile until you gain material assets and you can never have enough. As this belief gains power less importance is placed on human attributes – our love, time, compassion and generosity. We have devalued our compassion and separated ourselves to avoid our fears – being without, worthless!
It is important to learn to place value on basic human needs
Love, shelter and food. These needs are essential to grow and develop and live a contented life. Media messages play on our fear of being left out and not acceptable in order to sell us happiness and prove our value. it is easier to see how the constant pursuit of more can only be unfulfilling when we realise how futile this consumerist loop can be. We have no need for the latest iPhone or Xbox game when the current ones are still functional. And no sooner have we purchased the latest fad there is a new version that we just have to buy!
Where do we find our true value?
True value can only exist when we stop trying to fulfill our lack of feeling of value with material products. Of course, in this modern world it may be necessary to acquire some technology, but becoming aware of the reason for the purchase and not being swayed by the media can be tricky. We all want to believe we have value for money, but the latest gadgets are alluring. It is essential if you do not want to be manipulated into buying something that has more functions than you could ever possible need to construct a tick list. Write the functions that are essential to complete the task the new purchase is required for. Now research the products that will fulfill these functions. Discount those that have unnecessary added extras and pinpoint the piece of kit that ticks the requirements boxes. When we are taught to always want more we are not told when it is enough. No wonder we are not equipped to measure our own value, there is always a purchase offering more that we are manipulated into believing is of upmost value.
Finding our sense of our own worth is evident in how comfortable we are with ourselves without the hoards of paraphernalia we possess. We represent ourselves while hiding behind our new car and well-cut suit. It takes a conscious awareness to stop allowing material brainwashing and stand up as ourselves with no fancy accessories to display to the world our value. Our true value has been blurred and as a race we lose track of what is really important in the competitive chase to accumulate. The best we can expect is to numb our fear and give a false sense of being better than others to feel valued, but this is a temporary state that constantly requires further purchases of goods. We have learnt to look outside of ourselves for rewards. As children aren’t we taught if we are good we can have some sweets or if we pass an exam we can have a gift of our choice. Unwittingly we learn that all good things come gift wrapped and external proof is necessary that we are good enough.
Only half a century ago a sense of community was more prevalent which had a beneficial impact on our values and beliefs. The emphasis was on family time and social gatherings and a perception of being in it together. Time has become a valuable commodity that none of us have enough of. We fill our days with busyness and many of us do not reap the rewards of community. It was more evident that kindness and compassion were to be valued and the measure of people was not in what they had, but their generous spirit of giving. Once we regain a sense of all humanity being a part of the same network it is clear to see the success of our race relies on our love and value of each and every one of us. This understanding brings clarity to our consumerist existence that does not invest in our spiritual well-being and cannot be sustained. Technology and science have outpaced our human spiritualism. We keep pushing ahead with little thought of the consequences. Just because it is possible does not mean we should advocate and develop technology that wastes our world’s resources for unnecessary products and our own short-term gain and convenience.
True value can be seen when we acknowledge and respect our human network and nurture a sense of compassion and responsibility to care for the world and its inhabitants. Compassion is the key to finding value and worth. We all have a role to play in serving the good of the whole, but it is important to know and value ourselves equally. Giving is not a one-way process. When we give unconditionally we give to ourselves the gift of light and goodness. Notice when you allow your self-worth to be attached to a purchase how long the emotional high lasts. Compare that to the contentment of doing a good deed with the intention of giving unconditionally.
Compassion starts internally, it is not possible to be truly compassionate towards others if you do not bestow it on yourself. When you forgive your own mistakes and perceived weaknesses, it is more natural to extend forgiveness and compassion to others.
Developing a Sense of True Value
To begin to find your true value starts with making conscious changes and developing practices that support you on your internal journey:
1. Say out loud and notice how it feels -‘ I value myself’. If there is resistance in the form of an uncomfortable sensation in your body? Where do you feel it? Is there an internal voice that is not congruent with this statement? Notice and just be with that feeling and breathe deeply into that area to the count of four and repeat the word expand as you breathe out to the count of four. Repeat this several times and notice how the sensation changes and dissipates. Become aware of any voice that has previously opposed you feeling valued and acknowledge its message. Imagine that you can easily move the voice from your body into a balloon. Set the balloon free into the air and watch as it drifts away. With each breath notice as it gets further and further away and become aware of how the voice becomes quieter as it gets further and further away until you can no longer hear it. Now that you have silence you can choose what dialogue you would like to run? What would you rather hear that would support you? Perhaps you would like to encourage the possibility of feeling valued by repeating ‘I am learning to value myself just as I am’.
2. We can be very good at reciting a list of the things we believe need improvement, but how often do we list our own attributes? Guide your focus to find the things you like about yourself, even if they are not very big right now. It could be something as simple as ‘I like the way I smile’ or ‘I am a good listener’. Put your mind to work searching for as many qualities as possible. Once you have written your list, read it back and notice how the words affect how you feel. Revisit the list and add to it at least once a week. Think of a close friend or family member you connect with, trust and respect. Ask yourself what would they say to you if you questioned your own value? What advice would they give? Nurture a sense of being your own best friend. What support would you give your own best friend?
3. To value yourself there needs to be authenticity in who you are. This means accepting every aspect of the true you. Who were you meant to be? What aspects of you were judged and criticised that you had learnt to hide? Maybe you were taught anger wasn’t acceptable or your family avoided confrontation. In response you have hidden anger or avoided voicing an opinion. You have learnt to feel shame about feeling anger or having a strong opinion. Now that you are aware of this, ask yourself, ‘What else could this mean?’ It is important to recognise you have conformed to these family rules in order to be accepted as a child, but by doing so you suppressed some authentic parts of you and previously held shame for having those aspects of yourself. Now that you are an adult begin to accept you made decisions when you were a child that helped you to survive and that was successful as you are here. However, this old strategy now holds you back and doesn’t allow you to be free to be you and value every part of you. Send yourself permission to feel those emotions and accept the behaviour and that it is safe now to express every part of you. Even those parts of you that you had hidden can now be acknowledged and given forgiveness and acceptance.
4. Imagine yourself as your desired self. The version of you that you aspire to be in the future. Create a picture of yourself as your desired self. Make it a short movie with full colour and sound. Notice how you look in that movie, how you are standing, breathing, talking. Who else is in your desired self movie? Are you smiling? What must you be believing as your desired self? What attributes do you have that allow you to be this version of you that you always knew you could be? What have you learnt about yourself that allowed you to be fully accepting of you? Notice how content and fulfilled you feel right now. How do you feel when you look at that movie? Now imagine you can step in to your desired self and experience how differently you now look – seeing it through your own eyes, sound – hearing through your own ears. How are you standing/sitting notice the change in your breathing and how this changes your feelings about yourself. Become aware of where you have that sense of joy, peace and true value. Allow that sense of true value to grow and develop with each breath you take and enjoy being connected to the true version of you.
5. We were all born with natural gifts, but sometimes these are not nurtured and we don’t find it easy to recognise the positive contribution we were destined to give to the world. No plant or animal restricts itself because it happens to live in a less than perfect environment. A tree doesn’t stop when it gets to six feet tall and refuse to grow higher. It just keeps on growing regardless. A bird doesn’t decide to fly low it soars through the sky to the best of its ability. And yet we decide to play it small in case some might judge, be envious or we might get it wrong. We owe it to the world to take up our part whatever that might be and play it large. If you couldn’t fail what would you do? When we allow our passions to be expressed in the world we find our niche. Seek out your own expertise and allow your true value to shine!
By Karen Oliver