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I can't seem to find any value in myself

A user from the Support Wall was struggling deeply with loneliness, comparison, and ultimately was at a loss to find themselves valuable in a meaningful way.

Next Steps:

  1. Write out, in the most cynical way you can, what “value” means to the world at large. Get creative - is it having a 6 pack? Is it being a CEO? Per the user in the video, is it being a deeply creative artist? How do you perceive “success” the way our world defines it?
  2. Now, define value for yourself. Don’t think about how society, your parents, or movies would define them - what do you think? What makes someone great? How does someone achieve “success”?

In the video, the user talks about how they’ll never be important enough. Things like being in a relationship, working in retail, or their skill as an artist weigh very heavily on their view of themselves. And we can’t blame them! It sounds like someone in their life is hounding them to “go to college and get a real job” (there is 1 big indicator of “success” - having a college degree).

Before they even get into heavy discussion, Casey points out that they did respond to the post, proving that people are out there listening. Dan and Casey both emphasize that many people do feel inadequate or unworthy, because of the burdens of “success” our society, friends, or even ourselves put on our backs.

They go on to say that it’s hard to overcome feelings of despair in this area as well. Moving forward and conquering fear or loneliness requires hard work, risk, and vulnerability - who wants to do that?! But, their main point is that we don’t have to have it ALL figured out to move forward. Just head in a general direction, have a plan, hold fast, and keep moving. You’ll get there.

Working Questions:

  1. Take a look at your “fake” ideas of success or value or worth. Beside each, jot down where they come from. Did you watch Fight Club and become convinced that you had to look like Brad Pitt to be respected? Or, do your parents constantly harp on you to “make something of yourself”? Name the source.
  2. Once you’ve identified the source, ask yourself - is this source an authority in my life? Do I give it the power to dictate how I feel?
  3. Take some time to think deeply about who or what you give authority to. Understand that you may be granting authority to a voice that does not give you life, or true meaning.
  4. If necessary, take the authority away from that source. Saying to yourself, “Hey look. Making a lot of money can be good. you can provide for yourself and others, and have some security. But being rich doesn’t define me. I’m more than that.”
  5. Take the time to speak to each of your sources of authority, addressing each. Write down what you say to them, and keep it handy! When you hear it speaking to you, remember your control, and take your authority back.

Here’s what I got when I completed the exercise:

Next Steps:

  1. For how I perceive it…“success” for me, in the society I’m living in includes several things: wealth, a happy family, being “fit”, competence in areas like oil & gas (Houston!) and things like that
  2. Success for me wouldn’t so much look like being in charge of an entire company or having a lot of money. I can just see the end of that road and what it looks like - waking up at 45, with nice cars in the driveway, a perfectly manicured lawn, a pool, so on and so forth - and being completely miserable and wondering “is this it?!” For me, success shows up in relationships: the full, unadulterated trust of people near me, and their love and respect. Success is taking a huge, monumental societal problem, and attacking it with everything I know and have learned, with people I love and who trust me.

Working Questions:

  1. So…I wrote this post so, some of mine are up there. But - success in being physically fit? Yea, looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Maybe with a little more meat lol. In my career? Erin Ekhart’s character in “thank you for smoking” - although look at his relationship with his son! Not good.
    1. Yes, I do give movies, tv, and commercials some authority to determine what success look like in my life. I use them as a measuring stick to discover whether or not I’m “doing it right”. So when I look in the mirror, and I don’t measure up to some some ridiculous standard of unattainable fitness, I get dejected. And that’s not because I’m not fit - it’s because I’m looking through a lens that I’ve willingly strapped over my own eyes
      4.5. Here’s a good one I haven’t talked about yet - one authority that I still succumb to is the Marine Corps and their standard of cleanliness. I was 18 when I joined the Marines, and to summarize 4 years in 1 sentence, they train into you and expect a level of cleanliness that far exceeds most that you’ll find in the civilians world. It was pummeled into me, for years, to keep a spotless room and impeccable organization. Now, fast forward a decade, and here I am in my house with my 2 years old. A sock is on the floor in the living room. I flip out about it, again. My wife gets mad. So on and so forth. The problem isn’t the sock, the problem is that I’m giving my old Drill Instructors authority over my life now. Not only them, but I’m giving authority over to a feeling that, if someone were to come over suddenly without warning, they would judge how my house looks. These things are both ludicrous, because Marine Corps standards for my home now, or Abby and I forgetting to clean before people come over are both improbabilities if not impossibilities.

This was a really good exercise (thanks, John lol). I’m going to focus more on the authority, time, and energy I’m giving to silly standards that don’t apply to me.

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Next steps:

  1. “Values” to the world at large:
  • having a family (ideally where everyone is happy and fulfilled in their life)
  • being healthy and active (physically, but also emotionally - not being insecure/being confident, not letting appear any vulnerability)
  • being “beautiful”, according to some abstract standards
  • having many roles/responsibilities at the same time without failing at any of them
  • being competitive/being ready to erase others for some personal interests
  • having diplomas/being graduated
  • being a social kind of person, not a loner - by extension being active on social medias as well
  • being strong, independant, responsible, determined (being Superman, basically :hrtjakelul:)
  • having money and showing it: accumulating useless stuff, buying every last iPhone, having an expensive car (…) (sending a Tesla into space?)
  • being popular, famous, seen no matter how
  • having a job, having a career, working your way up
  • being happy
  1. The first question was fun to respond to, but for sure I disagree with all of this. Not saying it’s bad in itself. But in my perspective a lot of what we call “success” is often mixed with how others will validate us or not - which can lead to destructive behaviors for everyone, including ourselves.

For me, success is about being true to ourselves and others, no matter our journey, no matter the circumstances in our life, no matter if what we do is acknowledged by others or not, no matter if it’s validated or not. It’s about learning rather than achieving. It’s also about having ethics, whether it’s consciously or as an intuition/instinct. It’s about being aware of the impact that what we do or say can have in this world, in others life. It’s about being aware that we are not alone on this planet and we have to learn to live with each other. It’s not about what we do or say, the amount of achievements or failures in our life specifically, but about how much of our own heart we put in it and just… how we navigate in this craziness called life. So in short words, for me it’s about being and not faking.

Working Questions:

  1. Sources of authority:
  • Family: my own parents, who often pressured my siblings and I with their own will to be grandparents + each time they shared about their regrets of having bad relationships with their own families/how much they value “family” as something important in life. TV series as well that includes families who have ups and downs but always have happy endings or are just falsely imperfect.
  • Healthy/beautiful: medias in general (newspapers/magazines, TV, TV shows, movies…) and social medias
  • Roles-responsabilities: people in general who have an authority/who have an ability to judge (friends, family, anyone else, even strangers). When we are validated for our achievements or guilted for our failures. School as well, as we grow up in this environment where we are supposed to succeed in many areas at the same time, otherwise we don’t reach the next “level”.
  • Competition: school for sure, at any level. But also in any place where you have to learn/accomplish something/provide results-prove your effectiveness/can be rewarded. In general, any place where your own worth can be mistaken with your personal qualities, and where there is a form of authority.
  • Job/career: family/parents, school, medias in general, politics. Again, my parents especially. They didn’t really choose their life/their possibility to access to precise jobs. My siblings and I grew up with privations and it frustrated our parents. So we often heard, as we grew up “you’ll have a real job/don’t do the same as me/working in factories or being independant are not rewarding/valued jobs a.k.a you won’t be happy doing that…”. And as they sacrificed a lot of their own life (like double jobs for my dad and many crappy jobs for my mom) so we could have a chance to do what we want, not having a “real” job (in their definition) would be like failing on them. Another example for me is how politics talk about unemployment sometimes and put a lot of guilt on people’s shoulders - for unfair reasons. Like it’s only about having willpower and being determined.
  • Being famous/seen: medias, social medias (like counters and all of these kind of things).
  • Diplomas/graduation: family, friends, school, medias. Whether it’s by a positive reinforcement (“congrats for your diploma”) or a negative one (“I couldn’t do what you do”/”so, you’re smart”). Just all the discourses about being supposedly legitimate (or not) for doing something, whether it was about me directly or people I knew in my life. Also I have to add: it depends what the diploma is. I remember a woman asking me what I studied, and when I said “anthropology”, they automatically responded: “so, basically you’re likely to be unemployed right?”. Encouraging! But also true. It would have been certainly different if I had said “engineering”.
  • Money: I mean… the sources are almost everywhere (at least in our society), as a lot of messages are based on the formula possessing = succeeding. Mostly: medias, but also others in general, if we enter in a comparision game and if material things holds a great importance to us/in the way we show ourselves.
  • Socializing: it’s harder for me to find a precise source. But I guess it goes along with a kind of pressure in the background to be always responding to our beloved ones messages, sollicitations of any kind.
    1. Family and friends: for a long time it was a strong source of authority in my life. It still is, in a certain way (like everytime my parents come visiting me and highlight my mistakes or are judging about very small details). But as I’ve been living on my own for almost 15 years, I don’t give the same importance to their own definition of success. I made some choices my parents didn’t approve at first and they had to learn to live with it. The major point of this was when I decided to redirect my studies for social working. For me this choice was really what my heart was willing to do, but when my parents learned about this, they welcomed my decision by showing their disappointment. My dad said that he wanted me to stay at university and have a phD and I had to explain to him that this environment was very competitive and meaningless to me, so I couldn’t (and didn’t want) to spend an other year there.

Generally I value the opinion of the people I love, so it still has some impact in different areas of my life (especially having a job) and especially when it’s from my partner.

TV/medias/social medias: I try not to let those influence me and I don’t feel particularly nfluenced in daily life. But I guess there are still some impact I can’t control, especially about physical beauty/appearance/being “fit”, and even if it’s a passive influence. I tried to learn over time to avoid those when I need it. I struggled for a long time with eating disorders so my relation with my body can be unhealthy and I still didn’t accept it. I’m not a huge consumer of medias in general and especially not social medias. I’m not particularly comfortable in those platforms so I restrict my connections for some specific and limited purposes.

School: I tend to be very critic about how school is generally organized and what kind of mindset it forces us to adopt = like our worth is performance based. It is something I totally reject now as it just goes against what I deeply believe in. It costed me a lot throughout my childhood (feeling like I’m not enough, being repeated that I would fail in my life, feeling that I don’t “fit”…).

Workplace: I’m currently unemployed but it’s really hard for me not to think that I’m a failure because of this. The authority comes from my ex-boss, but also some discourses we can hear about unemployement in general.

  • My health issues doesn’t define me. It’s frustrating to be limited because of it, to just… crave for life and feel like I’m waiting for the next chapter of my life. But as much as it impacted me for the past few months, I am not my cancer. There’s no sickness, no diagnosis that will ever make someone a failure. And that include myself right now. I’ve been rejected because of this. I felt like I was worthless, unable to do anything, because of how some people perceived me, because of their own fears. I refuse to let this being an authority in my life. It goes against what I believe in and against how I feel. - I never dared to write this before, and it’s a relief.

  • Sure, work holds an important place in our lives, but it’s a way to have a decent life/enjoy life, not a destination in itself. I’m using this time of my life to take care of myself, to actually heal. And even if it’s not visible on any paper, it’s still valuable. I’m not less a person if I don’t work. And I intend to make this season of my life an opportunity for growth.

  • Sure, because of my own qualifications/studies, I will never have a “career” and be successful according to my family standards. No, I will never earn a lot of money. Yes I’m likely to be underpaid for my entire life. But I always made choices that make sense to me and are fulfilling. I am unable to force myself to do something I don’t want/doesn’t make sense for my entire life. I need a purpose, a direction, and it has to come from my heart. I need to do something that could, at least, have a little impact.

  • I am not fit, I am not active as I was in the past. And I’LL probably never be able to be as active as before. I have chronic allergies that prevent me to do so. But maybe it’s a bad for a good. Because my mind is always stuck with the idea that “I should lose weight/my body is not perfect”. It’s a deep, deep root/consequence of eating disorders. But my physical appearance doesn’t determine my worth. I am still loveable, no matter how I look like. I don’t want medias in general to have an authority on how I feel about myself when I look in the mirror.

Thanks for the exercise! It brings a real sense of peace and relief to my soul today.

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