Part 2 of a Series, How Can I Tell if I’m Being Valued for Myself?
Preface: Why am I writing about ‘valuing’ people?
Everybody feels love for others, and feels loved by others to some degree.
‘Love’ is a feeling. It’s personal and subjective and our own feelings of love can’t be defined by anyone outside of ourselves. It’s one of the most motivating feelings we have. The way we conceive of ‘love’, it’s one of the world’s greatest goals. But so often that feeling, especially of romantic love, when attained, doesn’t bring with it all the other wonderful things people were expecting.
“The feelings of love are happening!!! Yippee! They feel great! I’m on drugs! But wait, where’s all the other good stuff that’s supposed to come with it??!! I’m so confused…”
We can all hurt others, yet that doesn’t change our own subjective feeling of love for someone else. We still have our own feeling of love- the other person just hasn’t received what makes them feel loved. So what the hell is this discrepancy? How can we feel love and hurt someone else? How come this confusing thing happens when we can feel hurt by another but still have some sense that in their own subjective way they still have their own feeling of love towards us, but sometimes that’s just ‘not enough’…. Somehow….Vaguely….Can’t quite put your finger on it… Something’s ‘missing’… Something…. Something….?
Something less subjective, more observable and that has more of a functional impact on relationships than the subjective feelings of love that people most often focus on, is the internal processes and external actions of valuing other people as unique individuals separate to ourselves and valuing them separately to what they provide us.
I used to think the concept of ‘intuition’ was absolute bullshit. I could never relate to people saying things like, ‘I got a vibe’, ‘I felt an energy’. From the way people spoke, I thought ‘intuition’ was some sort of extra-sensory perception channeled by rays of cosmic dust or something.
That was until around my mid-twenties when I realised that I probably had the same ‘intuitive’ cues as everyone else, and had very much relied upon them- often for excellent outcomes- for my whole life. They had helped me develop things like a small core of mutually trusting, accepting, supportive relationships with people who liked and loved the spectrum of me and those cues protected me from things like being taken advantage of, betrayal, mistreatment, feeling undervalued and severe hurt at the hands of others. Where I noticed other people would often find themselves with relationships lacking in the healthy things and frequently exposed to the hurtful things, I seemed to have ‘naturally’ gravitated towards the opposite. These cues had also resulted in an odd habit of sometimes accurately predicting future behaviours, contingencies or outcomes which were completely unexpected for most other people*.
Why, how, what was happening?
The discrepancy was, that where other people often described or perceived ‘energy’, ‘vibes’ as the trigger, I had always had some level of ever-developing ability to perceive, identify and often articulate (but not always) the observable behaviours, actions and circumstances that prompted the feelings and motivations I now label my ‘intuition’. I hadn’t understood until then that the frequent external perceptions of me as often being ‘reasonable’, ‘logical’, ‘practical’, ‘pragmatic’, ‘rational’ and less ’emotional’ were misrepresentative of the seemingly ‘incompatible’ emotional awareness that was always the initial prompt for my ‘logical’, ‘reasonable’ output. I had always felt there was a degree of inaccuracy in this praise because I knew how emotional all of my experiences were, and knew how aware I often was of my emotional motivations. Before that point, I just hadn’t realised the symbiotic relationship between what I had been led to believe were two polar opposite, contradictory, mutually exclusive, incompatible processes: emotion and reason.
One definition for intuition is: “The ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” .Our brains are information devouring, pattern-reading and forming, habit-making, efficiency-primed, motivational, survival-focused machines. Since before birth, our brains have been encoding information from inside and outside our bodies and forming these relationships and patterns to help us make decisions and perform actions quickly and efficiently. For most of what we understand about the world, we have no conscious awareness of where that knowledge originated, have no words for it or know what triggers our understanding to come to mind.
How do you know how to walk? Try to describe all the information your brain is processing when you make a decision to successfully clamber over an obstacle. Can you do it? It’s the same for our understanding of people and interaction. For example, we don’t remember our baby brains learning what a smile means as it absorbed the information of facial expressions. Rarely do we have any conscious, verbal awareness of smiles having informed us of a person’s possible mental state and how they might feel towards us, but our brains are processing this constantly. So, while we may not be able to identify all the information that forms the patterns for intuitive understanding of a smile, we can make ourselves conscious in a moment that a smile was the trigger for our intuitive understanding that someone was ‘friendly’.
Intuitive information is one type of very useful information to help with some decision making and understanding, and even more useful when used in combination with external observation (link). This is contrary to what society and culture tells us. The utility of emotions and feelings is frequently quashed. This is understandable because for the majority of human history there has been little knowledge or understanding of how our brains actually work and pure emotional reasoning and emotionally motivated behaviour actually does have dysfunctional and often devastating, damaging consequences.
Intuitive information is actually our best friend when used as a prompt to engage in observation and reasoning. Used alone, our cognitive biases (link) may increase the chances of us forming imaginary, magical, paranoid, conspiratorial, fantastical, misrepresentative and unrealistic perceptions of people and the world.
Utilising our intuition better is legitimately a learnable skill, for our own benefit and others. It also decreases our being at the mercy of and dependent upon on the mystical, intangible, self-governing eddies of cosmic fairy dust.
How exactly does this relate to identifying if we’re being valued for who we are, separately from other’s concerns? Next post outlines some intuitive and observational cues you could pay attention to… Part 3: Your Own Insider Cues
*This ‘predictive’ ability is something I view and act upon with a balance of sceptical trust because while I can identify the current observations that trigger the predictions, I’m often unable to trace the information my mind/brain has absorbed over time that lead me to believe that ‘observation X predicts outcome Y’. This means I need to hold that prediction in sight, whilst being open to new information which will better inform and possibly disprove the conclusion. All of us have had experiences of accurate predictions. I know a few other people who can do this reliably too when other people are oblivious and doubting of them. We’re not psychic or special people, we’ve just developed some mental processes which make use of a very broad range of information… Even if we don’t know that’s happening.