11 May Creating Personal Value
“You Deserve To Live An Extraordinary Life!”
It is so great to be out of the hospital, to transition from being a “patient” to living normal life again! A month and a half ago, I was hospitalized for treatment of a severe case of pneumonia and a blood infection.
Having been a patient for the last six weeks, my wife Judy and I have had a lot of concerns. And, given my reduced capacity to manage things, at times these concerns seemed overwhelming. For example, what impact would my illness have on our family? How would my health be upon discharge? How would this impact our income? Would my clients be patient and wait for my return?
On the one hand these thoughts provoked considerable anxiety, stress, and a sense of powerlessness. I think often of the old Native American tale about the battle between the Wolf of Fear and the Wolf of Love in our hearts, and it occurred to me that the former was getting the upper hand. I struggled to keep the Wolf of Fear at bay and to stay clear of its savage bites.
THE WOLF OF LOVE
The Crossing Bridges website and your loving and supportive messages were good food for my Wolf of Love. We had over 2,000 entries of support, prayers, humor and caring which you all contributed to keep my spirits high. I also kept looking at what actions I had control of on a daily basis to give me a sense of control and competence. Could I go to the bathroom by myself?! If not, did I have a bedpan close at hand? Could I take a shower without falling? Could I keep my balance climbing the stairs? I just kept looking for things I could do myself to keep the sense of “I can do” alive in me.
In addition, I paid attention to how hard the nurses, physical therapists and aides worked to contribute to the safety and comfort of all their patients. I tried to thank them, to show an interest in what they were doing and to express gratitude whenever I had the opportunity. If someone brought me a treat while a caregiver was with me, I would share it with them, introduce them to each other, and tell them a little about my guest.
I think a breakthrough happened several days before I was going to be discharged, when I asked one of the nurses to teach me how to test my blood sugar level and to give myself an insulin injection. Since I was on prednisone meds, my blood sugar levels soared into the Type II diabetic range and I needed insulin to bring it back to normal. I was a bit nervous about doing it but I thought if I could succeed in managing this process, it would go a long way to boost my self-confidence and independence once I was discharged. Over the next several days, several times each day, I repeated this new skill, gradually becoming more comfortable with the process. Each time I made it a point to thank them for their help and to remark on their contribution. Over time, I think they began to smile as they watched me during this learning process and when I succeed in performing the testing and the injections. One nurse, the most stern and perfectionistic of the team, finally smiled on the last evening when I told her how I valued her as my teacher and what a support she had been.
Thinking about the work I do as a therapist and success coach who is committed to helping people manage their challenges and live extraordinary lives, I wondered about the value I brought to our work together. The work of the therapist is a bit elusive in that it is sometimes difficult to know the direct impact of our conversations on the lives of our clients. Sometimes the results come quickly, but for most clients, considerable time and practice are necessary to appreciate the residual impact of our work on their lives.
I have come to see the importance of asking clients toward the end of a session questions like:
“What are you taking away from our work today that you value?”
“What are you taking away that you can use during the week to help you feel better about your relationships?”
“When you get anxious at work about making a mistake, how can you use what we worked on today to better manage your anxiety?”
By asking these kinds of questions, I can get a better sense of the impact of the work we are doing and what value I am really bringing to their lives.
I recently had a phone conversation with a past client I had not spoken to for about a year. During our conversation, he remarked several times about something I had said that he had used successfully during the last couple of years and how much he had valued the work we did together. I expressed my appreciation but also told him how proud I am of him and how satisfying it was to have worked with him during that time. We were exchanging the gift of value to each other.
DO YOU BRING PERSONAL VALUE TO OTHERS?
What I want to do in this post is to stimulate in you an awareness and appreciation of the personal value you bring to your relationships and encounters with people. Think for a moment about your close relationships. Do you know what is important to them and what they value? How might you be a resource for them? How do you already contribute to their wellbeing? How do you acknowledge them and show appreciation for what you get from them?
If you do not have clear answers to these questions, perhaps you can ask them directly in order to discover the pathways to providing increased personal value to them. While it might feel a little awkward at the beginning, I think you and your partners or clients will gain tremendous satisfaction discovering the gratitude and value present in the relationships. Just as I earned a smile from the aloof nurse, you can take pleasure when you witness the value you have brought to the life of someone you care about.
The gift of giving and receiving value feeds the Wolf of Love and takes power away from the Wolf of Fear. Confidence and trust increase and a sense of emotional comfort and connection is engendered. It does not cost you anything, but the return on your investment of time and energy can be enormous!
PERSONAL VALUE DEFICIT
I think we live in an era of “Personal Value Deficit”: mutual withholding of appreciation, gratitude and acknowledgement. If you are not getting or giving enough personal value, beware of the Wolf of Fear. In the absence of creating personal value, the Wolf of Fear gets stronger, resulting in greater mutual alienation, disconnection and struggle.
If you would like to learn more about How To Live An Extraordinary Life, check out my book “Navigating For Success”!