A few months ago, I participated in several events connected to high-value clients and high-value programs. While I understand the rationale behind the concept, I found myself triggered by the term “high value” especially when used in reference to a group of people.

I continued to struggle with the use of the term when I heard statements like, “people value programs that cost more” and “those that pay more are more committed to the work”. It made me wonder about all the people I know with tight budgets who find high value, reasonably priced programs and practitioners to work with and stick with them. As well as people I’ve known with money to spend who dropped out of programs before they were complete.

As I sat with my reaction to the term “high value”, I sensed that there was something deeper underneath it. I realized that high value felt like it excluded people, it felt like a judgment and even a devaluing of people based on a criterion. I sensed this feeling went back to what has become the gift underlying much of the work that I do – being excluded and devalued through bullying.

Bullying can take many forms ranging from physical assaults to verbal harassment, and leave both conscious and unconscious scars. Here is one personal example of a “conscious situation” that knocked my sense of self-value growing up.

  • Not being considered “valuable” enough to be chosen to be on someone’s team created a feeling of being less than and excluded. When I was chosen last, or because I was the only option, I experienced a sense of not being good enough and a feeling that I didn’t belong.

Bullying and devaluing others isn’t just reserved for the young. Think about situations and ways in which adults and organizations devalue or bully others:

  • Name calling. Did you have parents who called you lazy or stupid? Or maybe a boss who labeled you incompetent? Possibly a friend or spouse who called you inconsiderate?
  • Downplaying your accomplishments. Ever have a boss say you did a great job only to give you a mediocre rating or explain that your back office role isn’t important no matter how great you do?
  • Unhealthy habits. Does your workplace have you working constantly, lacking any sense of boundaries between your work and personal life, or allowing you zero time to take care of your health?
  • Crossing boundaries. Ever have a vacation planned but a work deadline required you to cancel it and pay the penalties? Do you have bosses or clients who call at any hour of the day?

Now consider that bullying and devaluing aren’t always external actions directed at others. Think about ways that you bully yourself.

  • Name calling. Have you ever called yourself stupid for doing something incorrectly? What about other labels that are considered negative like lazy, ugly, and unlovable, among others?
  • Downplaying your accomplishments. Ever find yourself downplaying the steps that you take towards your goals and instead focusing on how you’ve not met the end goal?
  • Unhealthy habits. What are we saying about ourselves when we eat foods that negatively impact us, spend money we don’t have, or somehow put ourselves in harm’s way?
  • Crossing boundaries. While there are times when parents, children, bosses, and friends need something from us, aren’t we devaluing ourselves when our needs come last?

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, consider instead the ways in which you can thank yourself, be grateful for all that you are, and honor yourself simply for being alive. If you’ve never done this exercise, what a great new tradition to start!

Have more questions about self-valuing behavior? Check out my self-value assessment at www.systemsofchange.com and see where you stand.

© 2021 Systems of Change, LLC