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Value of self – value of others – the companion to respect

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day urges #Press for Progress.  In fact women have made tremendous progress since the initiation of the Women’s Social and Political Union in the UK in 1908. Progress has come in many forms – to quote the perception of Virginia Woolf ¹ “Moreover in a hundred years … women will have ceased to be the protected sex. Logically they will take part in all the activities and exertions that were once denied them. … expose them to the same exertions and activities … and will not women die off so much younger, so much quicker than men … “? Hmm … interesting to contemplate – and almost heading towards target, too?

So what might this have to do with values?  We humans are complex.  Our physical bodies are an amazing assemblage of useful moving parts to steer us through our time here.  But that aside, our mind, that which is almost constantly at work – well, our mind is the most precious – and the most powerful gift of all.

So let’s remember, progress for any cause really begins with our mental view of our self.  The role of the mind as the director of our entire being is overwhelming to contemplate.  Our life and our interaction with the world rest within our mind.  Therein we can choose to take action or not, to make decisions – wise or otherwise – to differentiate between choices, to judge or to be giving in our consideration of others and to judge or be giving in our consideration of our self.  And countless more responses – even within a mere day.

And because of our mind, our view of our individuality and all we believe about our self is the view that colours our entire act of living.  It is that ego, that self that runs the show for each of us, women and men alike – and it’s that self that dictates – unless we remember to be wiser – our reactions to and our treatment of others.

I would dare to suggest, then, that as well as those of our responses we regard as worthy or in fact any action we may take, come from the value and image we have of our self.  We must be careful.  It’s very easy to lose sight of or to over-compensate for that ‘self’ amid the flurry of day to day dealings, media influence, social media and especially, (for anyone who might haplessly glimpse it), reality TV.

Maybe IWD this year could prompt an opportunity to take the time to quietly consider our self – by asking a few questions.  Who am I?  How do I see myself?  Where did I learn to appraise my view of myself?  Am I critical and judgmental when considering myself?  Am I positive and generous in my perception of myself?  Am I developing and growing as a valuable human being in this 21st century?  And ultimately, how does my view of myself guide me in the way I treat others?

This may require a bit of ‘calm’ time … sitting quietly in meditative composure with a pen and paper to hand.  In quietness, memories surface, insight flows, intuition speaks and obstacles we grapple with might more readily point us in the right direction to discover resolution.  And so perhaps – women of the world – this exercise could assist our progress in positive and life-affirming ways?

Pauline McKinnon (C)
Melbourne, March 2018

¹Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own, 1929