We all need to feel appreciated, loved, valued and have a sense that our existence is justified. This appreciation comes from external sources such as friends, family, peers and our own internal compass that regulates our self-esteem.
When we don’t feel appreciated, for whatever reason, we reach out expressively to reignite the fire of significant existence burning within us.
That burning desire to be noticed, heard, recognised or simply to matter, is expressed differently by each and every one of us, and this expression can be dependent on our personal levels of conditioning, nurturing, experience, talent, opportunity and attitude.
How do you know you exist?
Some people go out and start a fight with someone just to feel they exist. Some go and perform a good deed, some commit crime, some jump out of aeroplanes, some go out onto the streets and riot. Some follow a path they feel is worthy, some take substances or cut themselves and some get creative, write songs, perform or act.
The list is endless and I could go on, but I’m sure you get my point. We all need to feel we MATTER, that there’s some rhyme and reason to our existence. And if we begin to feel we no longer matter, or in the worst-case scenario, have never felt we’ve mattered I can see why some people might display negative or destructive behaviour.
Why do so many people react destructively?
As I mentioned before our decision making is dependent on our personal levels of conditioning, nurturing, experience, talent, opportunity and attitude. We don’t all have the same coping tools in our emotional tool boxes, we’re individuals and susceptible to the influence of our genes and environment, especially when younger.
Although some people may choose a constructive path, and feel that is the only way to go when faced with obstacles in life, not everyone has the same predisposition.
For me, it’s fairly easy to comprehend how some people can take a self-destructive path in life when they feel they are not valued by others, or value themselves.
There were times in my earlier life when I didn’t have the emotional tools to cope with the peaks and troughs of life, and for one reason or another I decided to take a self-destructive path.
Having a lot of people in society who feel they don’t matter is a dangerous situation to be in, both for individuals, society and humankind.
It’s a very complex issue and there is no one easy answer, there are flaws in our society that aren’t going to be fixed anytime soon. There are as many reasons why people feel undervalued as there are people feeling undervalued on the planet right now.
Making a difference is not as hard as it seems
It may seem like all is lost and that no one person can make a difference but that isn’t the case. We can lessen the burden of the disenfranchised every time we venture out and come into contact with people. We can change the world one action at a time.
A famously overused and misquote by Mahatma Gandhi, “be the change you want to see in the world”, (See the actual quote here) is basically what’s needed. Or to use another one, treat people the same way you would like to be treated.
People feel valued when others show them appreciation and love. So when you’re next in a shop and speak to the person behind the counter show them appreciation by simply smiling or thanking them. Or push the boat out and do both!
We all have a responsibility to make other people feel valued, more so if you’re responsible for other people at work, a teacher or a parent. There isn’t a more worthwhile exercise we can perform in our daily lives than making others feel valued.
How difficult is that to achieve?
It may not seem like a big deal to you, but we are not always privy to how another person is feeling at any given time. It may make a whole world of difference to that person on that day.
The same goes for people we know and are in contact with regularly. The people you see at work every day, members of your family or friends. Feeling appreciated is a big deal. People may not outwardly show you they don’t feel valued, for fear of being perceived as weak or feeling ashamed.
Feeling undervalued can also have a spiralling effect…
You may be feeling undervalued yourself, or just having a bad day, and take it out on someone around you. Making them feel undervalued. It may not have been your intention, but now the person you’ve taken your bad day out on, feels awful, and they may in turn go on and do the same.
It becomes self-perpetuating negativity, and in the end, no one benefits.
Making others feel valued really isn’t a difficult thing to do. Being self-aware is also about being aware of how others may be feeling, regardless of how they appear on the surface. You’ll also feel better about yourself when you value other people, it’s a win win situation.
How many people are you going to value, and show appreciation for today?