I once worked in a
team where everything was rewarded – no matter the quality of the work or the
significance of the contribution, team meetings were filled with platitudes and
gifts for all who drew breath.
While the actions of the managers appeared worthy, it did nothing to help team members increase their sense of value.
It has been said that people leave workplaces because they do not feel valued.
The same can be said for relationships.
People leave them because they do not feel valued.
And when we do not feel valued, we do not feel seen and that can be a significant problem as we age.
Mid-life can be a time when we find ourselves in long-term
relationships that have lost their spark.
Conversations have been replaced by empty silence.
To sense that we have become such a part of the familiar we are not even acknowledged, can only contribute negatively to the state of the relationship and to our own, aching souls.
When we are engaged with those around us it tells us that we actually exist and that we are important.
When we go unnoticed, we do not feel secure in the space and the need to belong is heightened.
Does it start with self?
Do we need to be clear on what being valued looks like so we can start a conversation with our significant other? It is difficult to encourage someone to change a behaviour when we lack clarity on what we want the new behaviour to look like. Telling someone that they need to notice us does not decrease the gap between what is happening and what you want to happen.
Do you act like someone who values yourself first and foremost?
Baby-boomer and early Gen X women are possibly the last generation that took significant time out for child rearing and to be wives.
Hence our identity was often built around looking after the needs of others.
As those needs diminish, we start to feel a decrease in importance.
This is when it is imperative to step out on our own and take the opportunity it provides to re-establish our identity and treat ourselves like we have done others.
This can feel somewhat uncomfortable as we are so conditioned to putting our own needs last.
However I do think that if we are wanting to be valued by those around us we need to show we see ourselves as someone of importance.
Sulking around hoping someone will step up to something they don’t even know they need to, is a miserable existence.
When I travel it is not uncommon to meet mid-life women on their own adventuring because they either find themselves on their own or with a husband who has little desire to be involved.
I love the courage of making the decision to go it alone anyway – when we wait for others to want to do the things we do, there is a tendency to do nothing. And it can only add to the tension that already sits in the relationship.
If you are feeling undervalued and unnoticed then consider the following actions and step out into the unknown of putting yourself first.
Acting, to begin with, like someone who does not need the reinforcement of others to feel an important part of society.
- Is there something you have always wanted to take up however have not because the needs of others have come first? (I recently read an article of a 102-year-old woman who took up painting at 82 because she found herself on her own)
- Are there people you would like to build your connection with however have not because they seem so ‘busy’?
- Is there somewhere you have always wanted to visit but never have? Why don’t you begin planning the great escape? Don’t. however, make the mistake of putting pressure on someone to accompany you when they clearly don’t want to. That can make for a miserable trip for all involved.
- Is there a job you have always fancied doing or a business you have always imagined starting? Now might be a great time to flesh that out. What do you need to get that job? Is there potentially a business available that you could look at purchasing? Or are you better off to go through the start-up process without committing anything?
Ageing can be lonely or it can be a time to finally live the life you feel you have waited for.
So why continue waiting?