“Only the man who crosses the river at night knows the value of the light of day.” – Chinese Proverb
We place value on all kinds of things: cars, houses, toys, other objects and our loved ones. I wonder, though, do we place enough value on ourselves? Do we know how to differentiate between placing high value on ourselves and being “high maintenance”? I think we get confused along the way. I sent a silly text to a friend a while ago, and it went something like this:
Me: “My hairspray costs $22.95. Does that make me high maintenance? 😉
Friend: “HAHAHA! No sister, it makes you have fabulous hair.”
First, let me say: my friends are the best! But, regardless of whether I spend too much on hairspray, and we can debate the finer points privately, it made me think about whether or not I value myself highly enough. I certainly don’t give too much thought to how much I spend on hairspray because I like how it works on my hair in the humid climate here in the DC area. However, when I thought about it, I also realized that I had not been giving too much thought to how much time, energy and effort I was giving to other people’s needs, often at the expense of my own. So, in a simplified way, I was placing more value on my hair than on my own energy and time. This got my wheels turning. If I mis-direct my personal value, others must do it too.
Ask yourself: Do I spend my energy wisely? Do I place high value on myself? Do I make value statements thru my choices, words and actions? Consider the quote below.
“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” – M. Scott Peck
How much time do you let slide in one day? Do you dedicate time to things that do not serve you or benefit your family? Are you able to say no when you really don’t have time or energy to complete the task that is asked of you? Do you feel guilty for saying no, or putting your needs ahead of others? If so, read on.
I believe that the difference between high value and high maintenance is very clear: high value comes from an internal belief and understanding of who you are. If you place a high value on yourself, you will automatically create and maintain firm boundaries, carve-out “me time” and treat yourself and others with compassion. High maintenance is an externalized need to validate yourself by being outwardly demanding or needy. If you want to see yourself as, and be, high value, you are moving in the right direction already by thinking about it. Now, take immediate action.
Replace old negativity with positive messages. When you find yourself thinking negatively about yourself or others, stop yourself, take a breath, and say, “Hmmm.” No judgment, no analysis. Just, “Hmmm.” Now, take another breath and send the negativity away with a strong exhale. Find something good about yourself, the person or situation. Say it aloud or to yourself. The idea is to remove the negative thoughts and replace them with positive messages, immediately. Every time you think negatively or place judgment on yourself or others, you etch-away at your own value. We want to increase our value, don’t we?
Account for your time and use it wisely. Do you run out of productive time? Observe how you spend your time, without judgment. If you spend a lot of time surfing the internet with no goal in mind and feel the time crunch elsewhere in your day, set aside a dedicated time to do that, but finish the biggies on your to-do list first. Reward yourself with free time to surf.
Along those lines, do you feel overwhelmed and over-committed? If you do, pause before agreeing to do something you are not certain you have time to do. If you are the volunteer extraordinaire at your children’s school, does that bring you joy? If it does, but you also feel like you can never catch your breath, start delegating some tasks to other volunteers, setting a time limit on your volunteer activities and (gasp!) practice saying “no.” If saying no immediately feels uncomfortable, here is a great way to get out of it gracefully, with dignity intact: say, “Hmm, let me think about it and get back to you.” You can send an (unapologetic) email saying that at this time you do not feel you have the time to dedicate to properly completing the task.
Release drama. I recently adopted the following motto for my “outside my home” life: I will not tolerate drama from people to whom I did not give birth. My children are little and provide enough dramatic flair for this busy mama. I do not have energy for additional drama. I quietly remove myself from dramatic conversations, take a breath and try to leave it behind. I do not engage. I do my best to stay out of gossip and other related drama. I do not always escape and avoid engaging, but I usually do, and the quality of my life has improved tremendously.
Practice Compassion. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself kudos, give kudos to others. Celebrate your accomplishments, and feel proud of yourself. Allow yourself to feel happy for others, especially if they have achieved something you have not yet. Let others inspire you, and be your own inspiration. One way to practice compassion is to write yourself a letter praising yourself. Allow yourself to feel happy for where you are right now. Write encouraging, motivating notes to yourself. When you practice compassion with yourself, you will automatically give it to others.
Be courageous in making changes, yet soft and humble. Be kind to yourself and to others. You will notice a brighter outlook and your life will change for the better.
Blessings. Gratitude. Love.