Sunday, January 03, 2010

"Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open,

and rules are flexible -- the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family." - Virginia Satir

If you've been here for a while, then you know that I don't do New Year's Resolutions. I never really did, because I know how my brain works: I spend a lot of time coming up with resolutions, figuring out ways to accomplish them, figuring out ways to avoid accomplishing them, and then feeling guilty about breaking them. It's a vicious cycle that takes place approximately 742 times throughout the year, so I don't need an extra, mandatory date to create issues for myself.

Instead, taking a cue from Spoon Theory creator Christine Miserando, I pick one word that I try to focus on over the course of the year.

In 2008, the word was closer.
Last year, even though I didn't declare it here, the word I kept coming back to was breathe, especially since the year started off with us not knowing where we were going to be living, and then I spent 4.5 months in limbo at my Grandmother's house. Reminding myself - when I felt like I was accomplishing nothing, or that I was wasting time - that all that was absolutely required of me was breathing in and out, was a great help.

This year, I've put a lot of thought into a word that actually A) means something and B) will be easily applied (see cycle of resolutions above if you were wondering why it has to be simple). Some of the contenders were Truth, Choice, and Balance, all of which were good, but none of which seemed to be the perfect choice.

The word I came up with is Worth.

Looking at the definition of worth, I was pleased to see its roots are from Middle English, meaning to "become". Nowadays, it means the quality of something, the value of it. Something's equivalent. Something that is "good or important enough to justify" ie "advice worth taking; a place worth visiting". It can mean "excellence of character" or the esteem it deserves/garners, its "usefulness or importance". It's not just about monetary or material riches, but wealth of a different sort as well.

This year I'm going to focus on what things are worth, in a real and honest way. I'm going to think about what things are equal to, where excellence is actually found, and whether or not I'm truly valuing that excellence.

I need to be honest in ascribing worth - to things (Am I holding on to junk? Am I stockpiling things instead of valuing what I already have?); to people (Is it really worth another argument? Am I giving certain relationships their due or shortchanging them?); to time (What am I really spending time on vs what I want to spend time on. What is my time worth to me - and how can I show other people it's value?); to everyday actions (Is the taste of what I am eating worth the consequences for eating it? Is staying up all night typing the best way to be worth something in the morning? Since I know I won't take my pills regularly if I don't fill in those little days, isn't it worth it to fill in those little days even though I hate that job?); to the type of person I am trying to be (Am I trustworthy? Am I worth the effort it requires to be my friend? Am I sharing the true me with people who have proven worthy, or am I holding back?)... There are a million areas I need to look at in my life, a million places I could be putting what little energy I have to better use. So I'm going to try to be constantly asking myself... Is this worth it? What is this worth?

I think that living with chronic illnesses is all about asking this question - that there's so often a give and take, that there are so many reactions for every action. And, after a certain point, it gets overwhelming. It's scary, having to think every little thing through. It's frightening not knowing what the consequences for certain things will be. But that's not just living with a chronic illness, that's living. Period. So I have to stop being so passive about certain things, I have to start accepting the fact that the way I live - in the here and now, and the day to day - is my life, and I want to be doing as much of the choosing as I possibly can. So I need to start deciding what things are worth, what I am worth and how I can be more worthy.

It's funny, because I find that these keywords, or themes, or whatever you want to call them tend to stick with me. I still find myself asking "Does this bring me closer to my goals?" "Am I remembering to breathe?" has become almost a motto at this point. So I hope that focusing on the worth of my efforts & actions will become second nature to me by this time next year.

That seems as good a goal as any.

Definitions for worth via Merriam Webster dictionary &

1 comment:

Sue Jackson said...

What a wonderful idea!! I am the queen of trying to do too much, even though CFS has taken me down a few notches it's still a hard habit to break. I over-commit on my daily to-do list, on my weekly list, and on my annual goals (too many lists also!), then, as you said, I end up feeling guilty for not accomplishing what I set out to do. Maybe my concept for the year should be "reasonable expectations." Definitely something to think about - thanks!

Happy New Year!