How Do We Assign Value To People In Our Lives?

How Do We Assign Value To People In Our Lives?

Why do we value some people over others?
467
views

Recently, I have been seeing news stories and having experiences in my own life that have raised an important question: how do we assign value to things and people in our lives? Now, I’m not asking that like we’re having a garage sale and trying to decide whether or not to sell our fine china or keep it, but I’m thinking more in the realm of social relationships. What really sparked this question for me was reading about someone in Arizona who had left their dog out on their porch in 114 degree heat to die. I was heartbroken that anyone could do such an inhumane and cruel thing to such a kind-hearted animal, and I was relieved that the owner was arrested, however, I got to thinking that my reaction would not have been the same for every living creature. I am arachnophobic, so, naturally, I would love to see any spider dead rather than alive, but there’s the problem. I have placed more value on a dog than a spider, but why? Is it because of their physical size, their role in my everyday life, or something more than that? Does this relate to how we view different people?

When considering the different people in my life, I thought of my family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Are we just uninterested in the people who we don’t talk to as much? How did we get to that point? What if they tried to talk to us more? Would we respond positively? All of these questions have gone unanswered even after quite a bit of thinking because relationships are extremely complex. Still, the topic of assigning value to people in our lives remains relevant because it in itself answers many questions about why we act the way we do toward everyone.

If we’re on a bus and there is a girl sitting behind us, we’re not going to bother to turn around and talk to her, but if it is someone you graduated high school with, you’re probably more likely to smile, say hello, and maybe have a conversation. Throw a long-time friend or family member into the mix and you’d probably go back and sit with them. Is this a social thing? Yes. Finally, an answer to something, but what is it about conversing with a stranger that is so frightening to humans? Are we just too afraid of what the other person might think of us, or do we just not care about them? We don’t have the time or energy to care for everyone, so how do we choose who we give that time and energy to? Some people go out of their way to have conversations with strangers to brighten their day, and others will use as little energy as they can while in the presence of others. Is the answer to this that we assign value to people based on their prospective worth to us in our daily lives? My thought is that we will likely never see the stranger again in our lives, so we just don’t think the seemingly mundane interaction is worth our time.

Here’s where this whole thing becomes more complicated than comparing strangers to good friends and family. What about when we place lower values on people we know well? Did this person do something that impacted you negatively? Were you just too lazy to carry on the relationship with them? What changed their value? Many people have estranged family members and friends with whom they no longer interact, but there are deeper reasons why people push away from those that they know better than just passing them and smiling on the sidewalk. Could it be that they are a bad person? Maybe, but probably not. We all assign different values to different people, and that is just part of being human.

This article is meant to provoke deeper thoughts than what you’re having for dinner tonight. I don’t have an answer to any of the questions I’ve raised here, but I hope everyone will think about the people they care about most, then wonder why they feel inclined to spend time with them and talk to them more than others, and why those other people are less of a priority (and maybe make a change for the better along the way!). Unfortunately, time cannot be distributed equally between everyone in our lives, so we must choose who we give it to and appreciate that which is given to us by others.
Cover Image Credit: Kate McIndoe

Popular Right Now

An Open Letter To Every Girl With A Big Heart, Except When It Comes To Herself

Because it's so much easier to love everyone around you before yourself.
10259
views

They say the key is that you have to "love yourself before you can love anyone else," or before "anyone can love you."

For those who deal with mass amounts of anxiety, or have many insecurities, that can be an extremely hard task. It seems much easier to tell your friend who is doubting herself that she looks great in that top than to look in the mirror and feel the same about yourself. It is much easier to tell your significant other that everything is going to be OK than to believe it will be when something goes wrong in your life. It becomes easier to create excuses for the ones around you than for yourself, and this is because you have such a big heart. You want those that you love to be happy and worry-free, yet you spend nights thinking about everything you have on your plate, about what you did wrong that day, fearing if someone in your life is mad at you, believing that you will never be good enough yet convincing everyone else that they are.

You are the girl with the biggest heart, yet you can't love yourself the way you care for everyone else in your life. There are many reasons that you should love yourself, though, and that's something that everyone around you is willing to tell you.

You're thoughtful.

Before doing anything, you always consider how it is going to affect those around you. You don't want to do anything that could hurt someone, or something that could make someone mad at you. It does not take much to make you happy, just seeing others happy does the job, and it is that simple. Because of this, you remember the little things. Meaningful dates, small details, and asking someone how their day was is important to you, and it makes those around you feel important too. You simply just want the people that you care about to be happy, and that is an amazing trait.

You're appreciative.

You don't need a big, fancy, and expensive date night to make you happy. Whether it's a picnic on the beach or a night in watching a movie, you're happy to just be with the person that you love. You appreciate every "good morning" text, and it truly does mean something when someone asks how you are. You tend to appreciate the person that you're with more than the things that they provide and for that, your sincerity will never go unnoticed.

You have a lot of love in your heart.

Every "I love you" has meant something, just as you remember the smallest moments that have meant the most to you. You remember the look in your significant other's eyes when they told you that for the first time. You remember the smile on your best friend's face when you told them that everything was going to be OK and that you would always be there. You remember the swell of happiness your parents felt when you decided to surprise them with a trip home one day, and you thrive off of all of that love.

You don't give up on the people you love, even if they have given you a reason to.

It is a foreign idea to just drop someone from your life, even if they betrayed you. You try to look at their mistake from every stance, not wanting to provide an excuse for them, but to give them another chance. Not everyone deserves it, and that is something that you learn along the way, but you feel good in the sense that you gave them a chance even if no one else would.

It's OK to not love yourself all the time. It's normal, and natural to stand in the mirror and think about everything wrong. And it's OK to love other people, even when you can't feel the same about yourself. But your big heart is why you should love yourself. There are so many reasons that you are a beautiful person, and the people that you spend all your time caring about feel that you have so much more to offer the world, and yourself.

So, next time you think about what you don't like about yourself, remember what makes you special –– the size of your heart and all of the love in it, and then share that love with yourself.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

You Belong Here So Stop Saying 'I'm Sorry' All The Time

If you don't need to apologize, then don't apologize.

23
views

Picture this: you're walking down a street in a completely normal and non-disruptive fashion, and all of a sudden, someone walking from the opposite direction bumps into you. What would be your immediate response? If you're thinking that you would frantically respond with "I'm sorry," then you most likely have the sorry syndrome.

The over-apologizers of the world always feel like they're doing something wrong in one way or another. But why is it exactly that we feel that way?

A lot of us, and this is especially true for women, grow up with impossibly high standards to reach. We carry a belief that if we're not doing exactly what we're told at the right time and the right place, we're doing it wrong. That kind of logic is what leads to the constant need of justifying and apologizing: sorry I bumped into you; sorry I didn't close the door; sorry for coughing; sorry for looking terrible today. There's a sense of self-consciousness flowing behind these apologies. In attempting to break this habit, we are also working on our self-acceptance, and being comfortable with the idea that it is impossible to please everyone.
But, say you've worked on your self-acceptance and confidence, but you still find yourself constantly feeling the need to apologize, how would break the habit then?

Say thank you.

Firstly, let's differentiate between sorry and thank you. An apology is about the apologizer and what they did wrong. A thank you, on the other hand, is a form of acknowledgment to the other person. When we apologize, we're making the situation about us, when it doesn't have to be. Rather than apologizing for a trivial mistake, thank the other person for doing something right. "Sorry I'm late" for example, could be "thank you for waiting for me." "Sorry to burden you with this," could be "thank you for listening." This way, we are celebrating the other person rather than filling ourselves with a sense of guilt and pity by apologizing.

There's also a great sense of empowerment in replacing the word sorry. By breaking the habit of chronic apologizing, you are allowing yourself to take up space. As aforementioned, over-apologizers tend to feel like they don't have the right to be where they are. When, in reality, they are perfectly deserving to be in the position that they're in and don't need to apologize for it.
Swapping these words also affects its recipient as much as it's affecting you. Say you're out with a friend who seems to be particularly upset or in a bad mood. Instead of saying "sorry if I put you in a bad mood" or "sorry if this isn't what you wanted to do tonight," you can say "thank you for being here," and so on. In thanking them, you're acknowledging them for what they're doing. By apologizing, however, you're adding guilt to that person and making the situation about yourself.

It's important to note that the majority of people that over-apologize don't have self-involved intentions in saying sorry. In fact, most of them do genuinely feel guilty and want the other person to feel better. But, it's important for all of us to understand the implications of being sorry and know when it's appropriate to use.

Related Content

Facebook Comments