Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Until you value yourself

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)

I posted some little pearls of wisdom from the psychiatrist M. Scott Peck recently, but it is this particular quote that has stayed with me since then, so I know that it struck a chord in me. I have been preoccupied with this very thing since I started my blog in May of 2010—the idea that my time is valuable, that it is worth something and that it is important to use it well. Some of you may be thinking that this sounds strange. Didn’t I value myself and my time before then? The answer is yes, I did, but I often lived in an unaware state, perhaps thinking that I had all the time in the world to do this or that, to change my life, to pursue this or that hobby, or to get involved in this or that cause. But now I know better. Life is short. And my saying this is not about my being unduly or morbidly focused on mortality and a certain end, although that would be a good enough reason in and of itself to get up and get moving on the things I want to do and accomplish before I leave this life. It’s about being focused on living, on being a part of life, in all ways possible. It’s about living now and giving and getting as much out of life as is humanly possible. It’s about getting up off the couch and not watching too much TV or sitting in front of the computer for too long, it’s about not buying into everything that is written in the newspapers or in magazines, it’s about thinking for yourself and valuing your own ideas and creativity. It’s about not letting work take over your life to the exclusion of your family or your creativity. It’s not necessarily about parachute jumping or extreme sports (unless you really want to do that!—I don’t). But I do want to step up to my own plate—be present in my own life, be aware of the opportunities and freedoms that have been given to me. Because they are not few, I have realized that. We are given so many opportunities each day to be present to ourselves and to others. The question is whether we stay aware during our daily lives, or if we just end up doing things by rote, living according to worn-out routines, and not doing anything about it. There is comfort in old routines, that must be said, and I am not for discarding all of them just for the sake of doing so. But it’s important to figure out when to let go of things that don’t work for us anymore or when to let go of certain people who drag us down because they don’t want you to rise because it means that they might have to. And by letting go I mean, putting things and people in their rightful places and rising above their petty concerns, envy and negativity, not necessarily pushing them out of our lives completely. And that takes a change of mindset. It may not mean quitting your demoralizing job if you cannot for economic reasons, but it may mean separating yourself mentally from that job and rising above it in order to survive mentally and emotionally. It may mean a radical change in how you look at that job. It may mean a radical change in how you look at the people in your life as well. There are always some few people who are naysayers no matter what you do and say; instead of letting them get the better of you, just let go of their words. Don’t give their words any power over you. It is amazing how easily that can happen, almost as though there is a little person who lives inside each of us just waiting to be fed the negative words. We suck up the validation of ourselves as ‘not good enough’; we suck up the negativity and feel as though we deserve it--deserve the derision, negative comments, hostility, aggression or envy. We think that if we rise, it has to be at the cost of the happiness of others. It’s not true. This is negativity at work—this is what happens when we do not value ourselves. Because if we do not value ourselves and if we let the negativity in ourselves and from others win over us, we will not think about our time as something to be valued, and we will remain passive observers in our own lives because it will be easier not to rock our own boats or the boats of others. 

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