It belies one of the fundamental needs of a human: being paid attention to.
You could say: every child is paid attention to, you work for them, you clean them, to feed them, you put them to bed, but being paid attention to is different. It is a need to be personally noticed, considered, and in some way validated… or something breaks inside.
It is hard to estimate how many children suffer from the lack of fulfillment of this need.
I think he may mean this need, the need to be seen as a person, that he confuses with what he calls “the need to meet other people’s expectations”. The child wants and needs one thing only: being noticed, paid attention to, and in some way validated.
And even though it sounds so simple, and so easy to fulfill, really takes only seconds at a time, we are very stingy with that.
The invisible dynamic that you dish out what you didn’t get fulfilled yourself to others, is playing out here: you behave in life as if others only existed when they annoy you. When you can frown at them. When they are, somehow, wrong. Otherwise they are ignored.
Ignore is a willful “not paying attention to” action, the stingiest of the stingy. Withholding the energy, the life giving energy from another.
But in the world of people ignoring them hurts them, deprives them of the energy that would allow them to feel alive. Worthwhile. Validated.
I have been talking about the inability or unwillingness of people to see value, and therefore to appreciate anything or anyone.
Appreciate is a Latin version of the verb: recognize the full worth of something or someone.
We live in a culture where people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. And I mean that literally.
Oscar Wilde who coined that phrase said that about the cynic. According to the dictionary, a cynic is “a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons.”
When I first encountered the idea, the concept of values, I was 51 years old…
I did have some values I had recognized, especially as an employer, secondarily as an architect.
What i didn’t see, couldn’t see is that people had value beyond their usefulness, beyond what they produced in life.
It hit me hard that I was blind to all the kinds of values I could have seen. I saw that what has caused wars, and killings, an murders, and genocide, and the holocaust, was that kind of blindness.
It would be, maybe, politically correct to say “ignorance”, but I don’t think so. I think it is blindness. An inability to see beyond the surface, beyond the narrow self-interest.
You cannot ignore what you can’t see… The correct word would be unseeing, or blind. Blind to value.
Seeing values and valuing values are still different levels of that relationship.
Let’s see if I can make that clear with an analogy. I live on a hill over the University area of Syracuse, NY. In the early evening one side of the sky is like a painter’s canvas: the sunset where the brilliant colors fight for dominance. Breathtaking.
One sees the sunset, the other sees the value. Appreciates the value. Gets enriched by the value. Uplifted. Enriched…
If you look carefully, the secret ingredient is what the child craves from the parent: being noticed for their personhood. Validated as a person. “I am here”
So easy to withhold… after all you didn’t get it either. You dish out what you didn’t get…
Every Tuesday and every Wednesday I get a chance to make the world a little better.
On Tuesdays, it is my exercise class. I make a point of memorizing everyone’s name. To welcome the new people, celebrate the returning ones, and notice the in between… the steady, the ones that are as reliably there as the furniture.
And on Wednesdays, in the community van… same thing.
I notice and appreciate everything about everyone. Their good taste in clothing, their haircut, their smile, their good service (our driver is an exceptional man, brings tears into my eyes when I think of him. A real hero, and so humble, it almost hurts to see beauty of that dimension.)
So what is it about me that makes me go out of my way to celebrate people’s personness, their intrinsic value?
Honestly, it was a long road to hoe… 21 years thus far.
The first, the hardest part was the grieving that I had never seen my own value. I saw the value of what I did… useful, smart, good work, but not MY value as a person, as an individual, the value that was not the result of doing something, it was just there… unseen, unappreciated.
A diamond doesn’t have to DO anything to have millions of facets… it just IS.
And the same is true about a human, a person…
But unless you can see AND learn to appreciate your own intrinsic value, you’ll be unable to see and appreciate others’ uniqueness, others’ personness, and you will dish out “the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
Landmark Education asks you to take on being a certain value of your choosing, and create your life from that beingness.
But they never teach you that you don’t have to do that to have value. You have value, intrinsic value, that no doing will make bigger, and no ignorance will make smaller.
Mighty confronting, if you ask me. The world is shouting at you that unless you do well, unless you are smart, unless you avoid mistakes, you have no value… that unless you are a good mother, a good breadwinner, a millionaire, a businessman, a world renown author or a rock star, you have no value.
I was born into this world too… and it was incredibly painful to discover that I may have nothing to do with my value: my value just IS… and unless I can see it, unless I can appreciate it, I am not only living in the world, but I am of the world, and I strengthen its evilness, strengthen its inhumanity.
In listening to the audio I shared with you yesterday, I got knocked conscious: you are where I was back in 1998: you have no value for yourself, and you have no value for others. And unless I help you do that work, you’ll be stuck, forever, where you are.
I have no idea how to teach you to value. No one taught me… or maybe the spirit I didn’t deny taught me?
One student, the one in the conversation that triggered this article, was stuck for many years… until a few days ago where he chose, for himself, a higher power. He chose Life. Brilliant and humble. Beautiful, moving, re-arranges your molecules in a way.
And then he suddenly, after many years of butting heads with me, he started to see that in fact I was on his side.
And as he was attempting to answer the question in my previous article: what is your contribution to the world, he got to a depth of appreciation that can, like yeast in the dough, cause him and his life to rise.
To become a conscious person… a value recognizer, a value appreciator… maybe even a human being.
I didn’t do much to facilitate it… and evidently that was all he needed: a little nudge, a little being noticed, a little being valued, validated, and the blossoming began.
That is what i want for you too. The blossoming, that flowering.
It is beautiful.
And here is a gift I recorded almost six years ago: the Soul Correction: Revealing the Dark Side