1- The importance, worth or usefulness of something
2- Principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life
3- consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of
What do you value most in life?
What are your values?
I have had to think about this a lot since I was given the task of writing about value/s (thanks, girlfriend!)
Today I was off sick from work (night with fever, chesty cough). I started to feel better, so I went for a walk to get some perspective on what this post should be about. (Considering that I was really ill and had still been determined to go in to work, I have to say that my values in terms of definition (2) were a little skewed today).
I started to think, especially, about definition (3)- consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of. I must say that in life, in other people and (sometimes grudgingly) in myself, I value many things. Love, friendship, kindness, hard work, intelligence, health. But maybe I don’t always value them enough. Maybe I haven’t always respected the things I’ve claimed to value.
Over a year ago, I updated this blog with a story about a man I met in a hospital. I was on crutches and this man, the hospital porter, was in a wheelchair. He led me to the physiotherapy department and on the way we talked. He said that he had cerebral palsy, that since the age of ten he had been in a wheelchair. At ten, he lay bed-bound at the house of a family member by the sea, bored out of his mind by not being able to move. He said that now, all he could remember was the beauty of staring out to sea. He obviously valued the only beautiful part of a painful/ boring memory. I, who had landed myself on crutches essentially through my own fault, felt embarrassed to tell my story. I hadn’t valued my good physical health the way I should have, hadn’t considered its worth.
If you value something, you respect it; how could I say that I valued good health when at that time, I didn’t respect it at all?
I’ve changed. I am much more careful with myself. I try not to be a hypocrite in the face of lessons learned.
I am also more careful around other things like love, like friendship. A year before the story I just told happened, a very close friend of mine asked me not to buy wine. I was in a bad way and wine was making it even worse. She said that if I bought the wine she would stop speaking to me for a set period of time. I bought the wine. In doing so, I demonstrated that I didn’t value our friendship the way I should have- and yet, I thought I valued it so highly! To this day, that friendship is something I value and wish I had respected more at the time. Again, though the damage is done, I’ve changed. I am much more careful with the people I love. I try not to be a hypocrite.
There’s no need to go into the details of every single thing I have claimed to value and then disrespected. I think everyone, if honest, can find examples of that in their own lives.
The very final thing I wanted to say (I promise!) is that so much of our failure to value the things that matter to us, stems from the fact that we don’t value ourselves enough. Learning to value yourself is a difficult process- sometimes it even feels impossible- but I try to take the tiniest steps. Recognise in yourself the values you hold dear in others: your ability to be a friend, for example. Then step-by-step, recognise more and more of these in yourself until you have a near-completed picture. Once you value yourself, you will find it easier to truly value others and the things they have to offer.