So here is a question to ponder – something that has come up for me lately. Why is it that we believe something does not have value unless we have worked hard for it? Unless we have endured pain, sweated our asses off or bled for it – figuratively or literally?
Now, don’t get me wrong – I do believe something you have worked for versus been given to you usually holds more value and we tend to take better care of and appreciate these things more. I remember in high school my parents bought me a car to drive but I had to pay for the gas and insurance. Later when I wanted to get a car of my own, I bought this car from my parents (at a very good deal!) so I could use it for a trade in. I had a friend whose parents gave her a car which she never paid a dime towards. Her car was nicer and newer than mine, but I always took better care of my car. We do value those things we work hard for and we should!
However, it should not mean that things that come easy or are fun should not hold value for us. To better explain this I’ll share a situation I’ve been in recently and a resulting conversation with a friend (paraphrased of course, as my memory is not that precise!)
I’ve mentioned before I’ve been part of a project at work for which one phase has recently gone live. In some ways this project has driven me nuts! However, there are certain aspects of it that I do like. And there are certain areas that I find quite easy and fun. Some of these are areas where I have received a lot of praise recently from my peers and my manager. In my mind, I feel I don’t deserve this praise. Why? Because it was not something I had to work hard at. It was something that came easy to me and/or I enjoyed.
I was talking to a friend (we shall call her LB here) about the conflict I was feeling in accepting this praise.
Me: So, I’m working on accepting compliments by just saying Thank You or even acknowledging how happy I am rather than trying to say something to downplay them like I’ve always done in the past. But sometimes with work I feel like there is so much that I don’t get done and so much to do still and I find it hard to take the compliments for the stuff I have accomplished. Especially when it is something that was not hard and did not take a lot of effort.
LB: That’s because you under value your contributions.
Me: Yeah, I guess. But in this case it was something that was really easy for me and I enjoyed. I don’t feel like someone should be gushing over it so much. It was not much effort at all.
LB: It was not a lot of effort for YOU. But it may be something that is really hard for them or something they hate to do. So you doing it is a big deal to them. So you ARE under valuing what you bring to the table. Just because it is a strength for you and easy does not mean it is not valuable and something you should not be proud of and take some praise for.
WOW!! When I really ponder this I realize things go both ways. There are things that others do which are easy for them but I’m extremely grateful because it is not easy for me or I would hate to do it. In those cases I don’t think the person’s contribution is of any less value just because it was easy or fun for them. But turn the tables and I STILL struggle with allowing myself to see the value in what I’ve contributed.
I think this is part of the perfectionism I wrote about in previous posts. But it is more than that too. I know I have a good work ethic, but I’m starting to see that it may be a bit skewed. Add to that the perfectionism and all of a sudden my friend is right – I do under value what I do. And the even more messed up part is that even though I can acknowledge that she is right about me under-valuing my contributions, there is still a part of me that can’t accept that. I’m still struggling with this internally. I need to work on recognizing that I do have value. I have value for just being me and I have value for what I contribute – even if it is something I enjoyed doing and did not bleed out or kill myself accomplishing it.
Hope also requires us to understand that just because the process of reaching a goal happens to be fun, fast and easy doesn’t mean that it has less value than a difficult goal.” ~ Brené Brown