Depression is anger turned inward, so they say. And just as outer anger reminds me to go deeper within myself to find the boundary that is being challenged, likewise a feeling of depression is a red flag to alert me to inward turning anger. I think of the process as our bodies nudging us to health. Since all health—emotional, physical and spiritual—is intertwined, excavating what we can helps uncover beliefs that encourage our well being.
The other day after a workshop, I was feeling low. Not just sad, but the low that warns me to pay attention or risk the slide down the slippery slope. So I went inward to explore. The way I do this is to tell myself words that may be triggers to what precipitated this feeling. In this case, the word that resonated through me when I unearthed it was “value.” Something about the idea of value jump-started an anger that I turned inward—a self-anger that I refused to see consciously––until my low mood keyed me into it.
Value, says my dictionary is “the importance or preciousness of something.” It also says value is “the usefulness of something held in respect of a particular purpose.”
Within these two definitions, a truth lay ensnared in the thicket of my low mood. Teasing it apart, I realized I had unconsciously held the belief that my value was determined by my usefulness, or to put it another way, my contribution to pleasing others. Did I make my parents proud? My teachers proud? My friends happy? If yes, I had value. Don’t get me wrong, this belief has its good points—it keeps me motivated to push myself and to do my best. But because I did not hold the other–and I think perhaps more important definition of value—that of “the importance or preciousness of something” I was only half, not whole. And my inner being was pushing me to be whole.
Once I realized that both definitions of value must necessarily be held in my consciousness for me to be healthy, the thicket was cleared and the self-anger released. (And I felt a lot better.)
So now I know this: We all have intrinsic value. We all hold a value that is separate and inviolate from our usefulness.