the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
It is a personal opinion as to the value of something. Each one of us holds our own idea of what we think something is worth. I find little worth in comic books or baseball cards (I like them, they are cool, but monetarily speaking, they hold no interest to me) where others have payed hundreds of thousands of dollars for them. We see the lines for the new iPhone 6 that have people who have been in line for hours (if not days) just to get one at the same price as everyone else, but they place great value on the timeliness of the acquisition. My 2004 Ford pickup truck holds a lot more value than I am sure someone is willing to pay for it (the joke goes I love my truck more than my kids (it’s not totally true.. most of the time)).
But what happens when the object you are evaluating for value is another person? When it is no longer an indiscriminate object that can’t feel, but a someone. Does our value system get skewed based on the bias or opinion of our perception to how the other person might feel? If it doesn’t, does that make us less human or merely un-empathetic? And what about when we are the recipients of the reciprocal? Worse, what happens when we take to heart the value we feel that others are placing on us?
It does seem that the closer in a person is to our inner circle, the more regard we place on the perception of their value in us. For instance, that guy on the street who disregards us as we walk by we don’t even notice, but when our boss or co-worker overlooks the hard work and effort we put into something, we feel slighted. When friends ‘accidentally’ leave us out of their plans, it makes us feel forgotten. When our significant other allows everything else to appear more important, it deflates us.
The whole time, it is a perception of how we see them valuing us. Our perception sees the overlooking as intentional, sees mixed signals as purposeful misdirection, sees the priorities of another as an obvious undervaluing of ourselves. Sure, people can apologize, can try to explain their side of the story, or even try to make things better, but somehow we believe more what we perceive in the offense then we do in the apology. In other words:
“Perception is reality.”
So, what can be done when the damage has been dealt? How do we crawl out of the pit of despair we feel that we have been summarily placed into? Is it so easy just to forgive the offense and carry on as if nothing happened? Or do we cry out for justice from our innermost being, allowing our hurt to fuel the pain that causes us to return the offense?
I’ve never found value in returning an offense. That is not to say that I have never sought revenge or lashed back at someone who has done me wrong. But in hindsight, when I have, it has never made me a better person, or fixed the problem.
In all actuality, when I feel undervalued, I shut down. My walls go up, I go internal, and I get cold. It’s an old defense mechanism that formed in me years ago, because if I don’t put myself out there to get hurt, I can’t get hurt. The downside is that I stop being me, and I become more and more cold as the time goes on. I don’t like that part of me.
So, there it is.