Recognition and Value

I’ve got about ten days left until this cast comes off, and then I can enjoy the burgeoning springtime.. I’ve been re-prioritizing my time, figuring out how I can live more authentically once I’m mobile again.

One thing I’ve identified in myself is this need to be known, recognized. At first I attributed this to some sort of lifetime accomplishment that would allow me to live on posthumously, but now I realize it’s much more basic, and dwells somewhere much less grandiose: recognition from others. Not for anything in particular, just for me to have some sort of value to other people – to be relied on or needed in some regard.

Naturally, we all have a little of this built-in: as humans we share social spaces, living spaces, work spaces.. Unless we hermit ourselves in the forest and chop wood for a living (namely our living.. in Ontario you’d freeze to death otherwise!), we can’t really escape this requirement to “need” other people – But I’m referring to a deeper recognition. The value that others attach to our worth as individuals. Whether it’s feedback from our peers at work, management telling us we’re indispensable, or our friends and loved ones telling us how awesome we are as people – it’s normal to enjoy this attention, but sometimes I find that without this, I have less inherent worth. Now this only really rears it’s head in any severity if I’m travelling through a stint of depression, but for me, who is regularly in a state of general malaise, that destination is always one short stop away from any current location.

The “aha” moment came to me when I read this quote by Harbhajan Singh Yogi:

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Now while this quote doesn’t directly pinpoint the question at hand, as it deals with the reaction of others as their issues versus those of our own worth, I ended up resonating as if I was the other person – Not only that, but I immediately assumed the behavior in question was poor in nature – I was the one who was troubled, and perhaps projecting that state of disturbance onto others.

Instantly concluding that the quote referred to someone reacting negatively towards me is one thing, but actually identifying as that person who’s behaving badly is one further step towards the realization that my internal value scales are well out of alignment when weighing my self value.

I’ve known in the past that poor self confidence has been a struggle for me, but I’m constantly amazed at the number of paths and ways that I end up back at this same conclusion. Sure, it’s easy and “obvious” to see the value is self-respect, but for many, changing this value from a 0 to a 1 isn’t all that simple as it is in binary terms.

On a journey from black to white, expect there to be plenty of grey: change doesn’t happen overnight, and a small setback can’t become the unforgettable pea under the mattress.. it’s just a bump in the road. As long as self-worth becomes the cornerstone, a non-negotiable priority in all situations, positive change will manifest.

Conscious vs Unconscious – Active Existence

At the end of February, I broke my ankle. It was a bad break, and it has left me to run my empire from the couch. One thing it has rather painfully reminded me of is that we cannot take anything for granted: our mobility, our independence, can be whisked away at a moment’s notice.

This also prompted me to re-evaluate conscious existence: how much of your day passes without creating any sort of meaningful memories? How often do you find yourself daydreaming, or in autopilot? How many hours are your thoughts racing without any result or direction?

Don’t panic if you often find large chunks of your day disappear without much conscious involvement. It’s actually so common that it’s considered normal. We always seek some sort of “break” from our mundane, day-in, day-out activities – some sort of distraction. Yet the departure we seek is often unreachable, or rather the state of relaxation and peace we seek feels unsatisfying. This is because we are looking to escape..from escape.

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You can’t escape a life that you aren’t consciously  engaged in. Without active living there’s no escape.. but what you’ll find, if you grab life head on, that suddenly you don’t want to run away.. because you know those little moments? When you pour a fresh cup of coffee, the steam swirling a pungent cloud into your nostrils, when you hear the first few notes of a song from your rebellious youth, when you bite into a fresh croissant as you walk from one meeting to the next? That’s what makes life worth living, makes existence so sweet. And why would you want to run away from those?

So, as you go about your daily schedule today, start consciously  appreciating the small things. Even if you have to book an appointment with yourself.. Try sitting on a park bench, closing your eyes, opening your ears, your nose, and live within that moment. It might take a few repeat sessions, but you’ll get hooked on life – I promise.