Know What Makes You Valuable

3 min read
Mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

Source: Mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

Several decades ago, I began asking my clinical clients to describe what makes them valuable, important, and worthy of appreciation. Most conflated value with entitlement, privilege, possessions, money, or popularity, thus revealing a primary target of treatment.

The secret is being “valuable” or able to value. Creating value makes us valuable, making people and things important and worthy of appreciation, time, effort, and protection. Value is created in the human brain and flows outward to share with others.

To Value or Devalue

We always have a choice to value or devalue, although we typically make the choice unconsciously.

To value someone or something is to hold that person, thing, or animal as important and worthy of appreciation, time, effort, and protection.

The valued emotions are interest, appreciation, affection, love, joy, and awe. Valuing feelings makes us want to experience the valued person or thing more. Pride is a self-valuing feeling.

To devalue someone or something is to regard that person or thing as an ego threat or as unimportant and unworthy of appreciation and protection. Devaluing makes us want to avoid or attack.

The devaluing emotions are anger, resentment, hate, contempt, and disgust. Anger, resentment, and hate make us want to neutralize the perceived threat, if not destroy it. Contempt makes us act superior to the person posing the threat. Disgust makes us want to avoid or get rid of it.

Self-devaluing feelings are guilt (for violating values), shame (for failing at relationships or tasks), and sorrow (loss of someone or something of value).

Effects of Valuing

Creating value gives life meaning and purpose. It increases the capacity to learn, improve, and grow. When we create value, we feel authentic and hopeful.

The experience of valuing provides a heightened sense of well-being and vitality. We feel more alive looking at a beautiful sunset, feeling connected to a loved one, feeling genuine compassion for another person, having a spiritual experience, appreciating something creative, and feeling a sense of community or commitment to a cause.

Effects of Devaluing

Frequent devaluing creates a sense of inauthenticity; we’re clear on what we’re against but not so clear on what we stand for. It fills our lives with insults, threats, pain, exhaustion, boredom, self-obsession, anxiety, or cynical depression. It impairs the ability to create value and meaning. It increases performance errors, lowers frustration tolerance, and diminishes physical and sexual attractiveness. It puts us at risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, hypertension, colds, flu, headaches, stomachaches, muscle aches, alcoholism, drug addiction, impulsivity, and compulsive behavior like workaholism and sexual acting out. Unabated, it leads to burnout or hopelessness.

Devaluing almost always evokes reciprocal responses from others. Anger and resentment breed anger and resentment. Expressing or implying hate increases hate, as does hating those who hate.

Just as we raise self-value by valuing others, we lower it by devaluing others.

We always have a choice to value or devalue.

As an exercise, write in long hand what makes you valuable.

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