Integrated health requires the pursuit of balance in all areas of your life: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial.
Newsflash: it is my job to value me.
I have a strong desire to feel valued, in fact, it’s one of my Core Desired Feelings that I’ve identified by participating in Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map program. If you haven’t heard of this before, I highly encourage you to check it out. I’ve been revising my list annually for the past 4 years. The premise is that when we know how we want to feel, we can use that information to guide us in making better choices. For example, if “brave” is a Core Desired Feeling and you face a choice that puts you in a situation where you have to step up and be brave, or you can run away and avoid it, you might dig deep and find more courage to step up – to be brave.
The words on my Core Desired Feelings list have changed slightly through the years, but one that has stuck around in every iteration is VALUED. For me, the words change out as I feel like I’ve implemented them, or as I move through dynamic stages in my life. So, for one word to continue lurking, just hovering, waiting for me to finally figure out how to consistently FEEL it… there’s a clue that I haven’t put enough focus on it. I want it, but for some reason, I inadvertently push it away from me… like chasing after a beach ball in a swimming pool.
In the last year, I decided to focus on VALUE as my sole Core Desired Feeling. I purchased a pretty journal from Barnes & Noble, customized it by applying rub-ons to say ‘I am Valued”. My intention was to write down three proofs that I had provided value in the world each and every night before I went to bed.
But I let the journal sit on the shelf for the first six months.
It took me until November of 2016 to finally open the damn thing and start writing in it. Here is my first entry, the guideline for my intentions with the journal:
“One of my most significant Core Desired Feelings is VALUED.
I desire to make choices from the position of which path will lead me to feeling valued. When I recognize I feel de-valued, or even dismissed, invalidated, ignored, discounted, then I can and I will adjust my choices.
I recognize it is my responsibility to find and step into this feeling. It is me, Janet Louise, who draws the experience to myself. As a practitioner, it is up to me to convey my value to others – as a person, it is up to me to fill my own cup and let it overflow.
I will consistently observe how I add value to the world because I exist. I will document and invite this feeling, this knowing, to permeate my life:
I am Valued.“
For the next week or so, I was somewhat diligent about writing down three things that had happened to me proving that I had shown up and provided value.
But, then, something happened that I wasn’t expecting.
I had a day where I didn’t talk to a single soul.
These days are not uncommon for me. I regularly need to disconnect from everyone and everything to replenish my own energy. And I am not joking when I tell you that I don’t communicate with a single person on those days.
So, when I sat down with my journal in the evening to identify three ways I had shown up and provided value to the world, I was dumbfounded. I wrote:
“Thinking about how I provide “value” in the world on days when I do ZERO interacting with the outside world. I’m catching glimpses of the importance of showing up for myself, too. I can look to myself for how I showed up for me, how I valued my own input, desires, existence, etc. It shifts from I feel valued… because (of whatever external reason)… to I VALUE ME.”
Then it took me another week of processing and absorbing this epiphany to finally start writing a list of ways that I recognize, honor, cherish and value me.
The last entry in my journal says,
“Remember this – you should never have to convince anyone of your value. If they don’t see it, can’t appreciate it, it is their loss. Not yours. Do not internalize others’ lack of recognition. You’re amazing and I love you! I value you! I value me!”
And I haven’t written another entry in that journal since December.
So, how am I learning to value me?
I still struggle.
I forget important things.
Like how strong, wise, creative, fun, witty, silly, loyal, fierce, and light-hearted I am.
I can get lost in all the ways I perceive that I’m failing, and be sad that I’m not meeting other people’s expectations. I can beat myself up for my strange perspective of the world, for my lack of motivation to conform, for my inability to be “normal”.
And sometimes I do.
But, sometimes I don’t.
I’ve re-established a self-care regimen, with a new approach that incorporates loving and valuing myself. Nourishing my body with healthy food, supplements, and plenty of water feels entirely different when I’m giving it to me because I love me vs. a feeling of restriction and limitation brought on by trying to look a certain way to appeal to other people’s standard of beauty.
I’m forcing myself to go to sleep at night, to be more structured with my sleep patterns. This is a gift to me because I absolutely LOVE my active dream life, and a regulated sleep schedule improves the quality, quantity, and frequency of my dreams.
I’m meditating more often. This connection to Divinity reinforces within me that I am valuable simply because I exist.
I’m starting to recognize that I encounter opportunities every single day to step away from people and situations that do not help me feel valued. I’m getting better at distancing myself from this onslaught on my psyche and my energy. Without malice, I simply remove myself from the path of people who just can’t SEE me. We tend to look out through our own filters, making judgments and assumptions based on our own experiences, and I’m improving my ability to allow you to have your opinion of me, without taking it personal.
Those who know me well, know my integrity, my heart and soul, my beautiful struggles… and they still love me unconditionally. This is priceless. And I’m grateful to have it in my life.
Additionally, I’m starting to STOP certain behaviors, as well:
- stop dimming my light
- stop playing small
- stop shrinking
- stop dumbing myself down
- stop censoring myself
- stop catering to others
- stop allowing devaluation
I just turned 42 years old and it’s about time I finally absorb that I must value me. I don’t need anyone else to value, recognize, see, understand, or appreciate me. My value is not in what YOU see, it lies in my ability to honor myself.
p.s. Going through the exercises in the Desire Map has helped me find clarity and direction in a manner that simply setting goals does not. This link is an affiliate link and if you decide to make a purchase, I will get a small % kickback. That’s just an added perk for me because I would be recommending this program to you whether or not she had a referral system in place. I love it that much!
I disagree that pornography (and its repercussions) is the new drug.
These issues have been escalating for decades, only now smart phones and easy access to the internet have exponentially increased the availability of sexually explicit material. It’s relevant to the point that WE HAVE ASSEMBLIES AT SCHOOL TO TALK ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY.
Let that sink in.
[ Please read this article – if you’re a parent, if you’re a teenager, if you’re in a relationship affected by pornography. ]
This is complicated. It’s rampant. And it’s gravely affecting the opportunities for intimacy in relationships in the future. Having sex, or participating in sexual activities BEFORE kissing?? There is no natural progression of a relationship… remember when you’d get all giddy because you held hands for the first time? Got your first kiss? Oooh, or french kissed?
Our children are learning (through an illusion) that girls are supposed to look hot and sexy, while boys get their jollies. They’re all learning that females are objects to satisfy male’s lust. And just about everything they are seeing reinforces this… they think it’s NORMAL.
And unfortunately, that culture spreads into other areas of life.
Consider a future where dating is obsolete. Hooking up is the standard.
Consider how this affects the possibility of creating healthy relationships. How does marriage look when men feel they are entitled to an All You Can Eat buffet with constantly changing dishes? What about the wife who painfully learns that nobody wants to eat the same meal at home every night?
Sexuality is a BEAUTIFUL gift.
As a mother, I want my children to anticipate this wonderful, complex, dynamic experience. I hope they learn self-confidence and empowerment, as well as how to appreciate another human being for more than the physical attributes that are being glorified in porn culture.
My heart hurts at the thought of my daughters being treated as objects, at the thought of my son missing out on LOVE and connection.
It’s our job as parents to teach them. I’m choosing the approach of warning my children about the dangers associated with pornography. It’s tricky, though. Because how we approach the subject affects how they will absorb the information. It has to be a frank discussion, without dogma. Lust and addiction don’t respond well to moral lectures.
The images create nearly impossible standards for our girls to live up to (believe me, I’ve felt my own inadequacy acutely)… competition, comparison… it’s damaging to their self-esteem, to their entire self-concept. I want them to know they are valued for their intelligence, creativity, spunk, quirks, hopes, dreams. They have so much more to offer than BODY PARTS.
Our boys need to know that while the images are scintillating, they are ILLUSORY. The choreography is misleading. Tell them: Women do not exist to satisfy your lust, to give you pleasure.
They need to know that this fantasy realm they are viewing is missing some of the greatest experiences that life has to offer: connection, vulnerability, intimacy, reciprocity.
They need to know that the sensations coursing through their body are addictive, that it may seem harmless and everyone is doing it, but it can quickly become a habit that can turn into an addiction that has dire future consequences… that it can cost them the opportunity to have a healthy, intimate relationship in the future.
They need to know there are powerful, emotional, blissful, ecstatic experiences available to them. That sex can be so much more than hollow visuals.
If we don’t tell them, how will they know?
Occasionally, I find myself getting all riled up about some kind of public issue. Usually it has to do with inequality or defense of a perceived underdog. Two years ago, I went to bat against our school district because they were throwing children’s lunches away after the student had gone through the line, gotten a tray, and discovered there wasn’t money on their account. Taking a tray and dumping it in the garbage in front of the child is a horrific practice and fortunately, through the channels of social media, and due process, the school district’s policy was effectively changed.
That’s when I started calling myself an accidental advocate. Because, in all honesty, I never know ahead of time when a specific issue is going to stoke a passionate response within me. I’m super chill on most things that go on, but… if the universe conspires at exactly the right moment, I’ll jump in and raise some hell in an effort to ensure that the rights of the minority are preserved and protected.
This latest pet project has been the lifting of a restriction on the sale of liquor on Sundays in my little town. In my mind, it’s such an easy cut-and-dry problem and solution. To put it simply, we have outdated ordinances in our city code, and when our leaders are made aware of them, they are responsible for correcting the errors. But, in this area, there is a strong religious majority, and even though it appears to be a clear violation of separation of church and State, there continues to be strong resistance to removing the Sunday exclusion.
I care enough to get involved, to speak up.
I’ve joined and started discussions on Facebook, attended city council meetings, written letters to the editor. I even live tweeted the last meeting and wrote a stinging rebuttal to the Mayor when he posted inflammatory and inaccurate remarks on his public Facebook page.
All the while, observing my brain in action, wondering WHY does this particular issue get me fired up. Why did I hunker down to invest time and energy in researching thoroughly the topics at hand? I now know more about Blue Laws, Prohibition, advisory votes, the procedures for passing a city ordinance, and alcohol regulation than I ever intended to know. I’m thrilled that I am still able to use the skills I learned in my Junior Honors English class back in high school to research a topic and present it in an organized manner.
And present my findings, I did! I even got up to speak at the City Council meeting. I’m compelled by the need to present valid, factual information to offset the emotional, fear-based statements coming from those opposed to making changes. I’m driven by the black and whiteness of the issue and the sad reality that many in my community are not interested in moving forward, in being progressive, in allowing others their own freedom to choose – they would rather impose their belief system on the entire community.
It’s maddening, I tell ya.
I even got into it a little bit with my best friend from high school. She was miffed that I pointed at religion, asking me not to place blame there as it was unfair. I explained that when the exclusion exists only on Sunday, with the original intention of encouraging the people to observe the Sabbath day, and that the only reason it hasn’t been corrected is because of the religious majority in my town who want to legislate morality, it is not blame… it is a root cause.
I may have to go to her again and explain that this particular subject was discussed inside the church, on a Sunday, during church services, where members were specifically encouraged to attend last night’s meeting, and some were even coached on what to say! This counts as religious involvement, don’t you think? Also, it’s interesting to note that the Mayor, one of the council members and 4 of the public speakers all happen to be in the same congregation. This is not a coincidence. It is evidence of the religious majority intending to impose their beliefs on the rest of the community.
This ^ is what grinds my gears – a concerted effort, by a collective, to “maintain standards” for an entire community. This is grossly unfair.
Which apparently motivates me to speak up.
I’m also inspired to reach out to more of the people in my community who are not part of the religious majority, as well as to those inside the group machine who recognize this issue for what it is (essentially a non-issue for 99% of the population) to rally a united front to challenge the status quo. There is most certainly strength in numbers. We see it every day in our small community, as it is regularly used to dictate choices for us. I would love to see this strength used for the highest and best of all affected, but alas, it is not.
And if I can’t get what I’m after, I would at least like to understand better. I’ve asked countless questions from the opposition, only to be met with vacant eyes or an automated response that the city council isn’t listening to the people. Beyond that, there is no additional critical thinking. There are no solid, justifiable reasons for opposing updating the ordinance.
I know because I looked for them.
I asked, researched, contemplated.
Most of the opposition are absolutely unaffected by this change. One thing to consider is that I am also unaffected by this change. I don’t advocate for this because I want to go buy a drink at a bar on Sunday. I am the equivalent of nearly all of the opposition: completely unaffected by the change, yet fighting passionately for my desired outcome.
The burning question that remains is, “if this doesn’t affect you personally, then why do you have such a strong emotional response to it?”
And that, that right there, is question with a response I’d love to hear.
Date: July 21, 2015
Location: The Crux, on the floor, in between sets
I did NOT expect to be overwhelmed by emotion at a no-name concert at a random coffee house in Boise that I had never heard of. I honestly didn’t pay much attention at all to the artist or the details of this trip, I just let Julia make the plans and begrudgingly fulfilled the commitment I made to bring her to the show.
Imagine my surprise when the first performer blows my mind.
This dorky looking dude (who reminds me of Jonah Hill) performs original tunes acoustically. He travels under the band name, “The Homeless Gospel Choir” so I genuinely was surprised to see a solo artist. His first song was described as a protest song, and I found myself moved to tears by his lyrics and the heartfelt delivery. Each subsequent song was also a protest song and I soon realized that this man, Derek Zanetti, has a message… his delivery method is a guitar and punk rock.
I looked around the room at this eclectic coffee shop full of mostly teenagers with wild colored hair wearing either Vans or Converse, who have found a place where they feel they belong – where they are accepted exactly as they are – listening to a message of complete and unconditional equality.
He channels a powerful message speaking out against any kind of -ism that discriminates and segregates. His method is REACHING these kids… teaching them to reject the authority that preaches that they must do and be certain things in order to be worthy of love, affection, and validation.
This lovable dork, on the stage, is inspiring an entire segment of this generation to live authentically – to expand their hearts and awareness to include everyone – I couldn’t help it… I cried five separate times during his 45 minute set.
The tears were recognition of the power in his message, as well as the angst and emotional pain that served as the catalyst for him to write the songs, providing his drive to share this message. I cried out of admiration and respect for his total dedication to reaching those who are hurting. I cried because there’s more I can and should be doing and it’s time I got my head back in the game.
I cried because of Julia, my kick ass daughter, listening to this message, crying along with me, while I pondered what great and wonderful things she will be inspired to accomplish in her lifetime because she gets this kind of validation at her young age. She’s got support – and I’m in awe at what will unfold in her lifetime because she resonates so deeply with this message of equality.
I cried for all those in the audience who needed to hear the lyrics sung and the words that were spoken – delicate subjects addressed through acoustic music – holy shit, it’s brilliant.
Not to mention, the energy in the room has been palpable all evening. I could FEEL the emotion from Derek… as well as the recognition from the audience… punk rock kids (who appear to those who like to sit in self-righteous judgment as rebels or problem kids) responding to a solo performer with cheers, heartfelt appreciation, and hope… this is not a random concert on a Tuesday evening, it’s a life-changing event.
These kids, this audience, they’ve been validated at their core, by someone who is perceived to have some street cred due to his music career and being on tour with Frank Iero. They’ve received a message of encouragement, support, belonging, FAMILY. Topics covered included losing loved ones, feeling like outcasts, being different, having a different perspective, suicidal tendencies, etc. Each topic approached with the same candor and genuine care – YOU MATTER. You are valuable. You are loved. You are included.
And here come the tears again.