As most of you know, I’m a professor. And while I absolutely love teaching, for most of my career, I have felt like a “fish out of water” in the academic world. Not in the same way as I wrote about in my last blog - this is a different way. If you read last week’s post, you are probably wondering why I ever entered academia in the first place, right?! I know you are. Ha! But stay with me. I will explain myself.
For those of you who are not a part of the academic world, let me fill you in on how it works. When you are a professor at a state university (such as I am), research is valued above all else. In other words, the university expects you to be a “publishing machine” in order to be respected. And you can’t just publish anything. You have to publish scholarly articles in competitive academic journals or write a research-based book(s). That’s the way it works. And that’s fine. It’s just how the game is played.
So here’s how I feel like a fish out of water. I never enjoyed doing this. Yes, I did publish quite a bit of research - I had to do it to get tenured. But in my heart of hearts, all I really wanted to do was teach and write about self-help topics. While I think my academic articles are kind of interesting, I have a bad feeling that they are simply collecting dust on people’s bookshelves at universities across the country. That’s my humorous way of saying that my academic publications are not really helping anyone - at least not in the way that I like to help people.
As you can tell from the fact that I have this website, I have since ventured into what I love doing – motivating people on television & radio, writing self-help books & articles, doing videos, and creating e-courses. And I think they all provide real-world, useful, and applicable advice for people to help improve their lives. Now that makes me feel like I’m making a real contribution to the world. Even if I help just one person, it’s all worth it.
As you might have suspected by now, none of this non-research, non-“academic” work that I am doing is valued by my university. And I’m not complaining – it’s fine. Like I said, that’s just the world of academia and how the game is played. And I’m not even trying to change the game. I couldn’t, even if I wanted to.
So because I don’t feel like my self-help work is valued, that got me thinking about how many other people don’t feel valued. Maybe you don’t feel valued at work, at home, by your kids, by your parents, your friends, you-name-it…and the list goes on. There are many times all of us don’t feel valued by others.
So what do we do about it?
Here’s what you do about it: stop caring.
I don’t mean that you should cop an attitude and give the metaphorical middle finger to the people who don’t value you. That’s definitely not what I mean. But what I do mean is that you need to get to a point emotionally where you don’t NEED to be valued by other people because you already value yourself.
As for me, would it be great if my university valued the kind of work I do on this website? Sure. Do I expect it or need it? No. I am doing this work because I am passionate about helping people, and if that means not getting professionally recognized for it in the academic world, then that’s fine with me. I know my work is helping people. That’s all I need to know.
Once you feel that inner peace inside, you no longer need other people’s approval, acceptance, or praise. You know in your heart that you value yourself. And that’s enough.
So take some time to think about where you are not valued in your life. Then think about why it bothers you. Why do you need other people’s praise, acceptance, or validation? Sure, having that is fantastic – we all like it. But you can’t control it. All you can control is how you view it (or lack thereof).
Bottom line, my message is to love yourself. And value yourself … because your happiness begins and ends with you!
6/26/2014 05:54:55 am
Your advice is great for women. However not so for men. Unlike women, men are truly lonely. If no one values a man he cant count on random people to take an interest in him. There are no women open to men suffering from depression and sadness. Women do not give to men and they do not love them unless they can provide something. No one takes pity on men and nobody cares. A man can love himself all he wants and will still remain alone forever. That is the truth of being male in this world. Your advice speaks nothing to men.
11/6/2016 03:12:35 am
You clearly do not have a clue of what the experience of being a woman is.
11/6/2016 09:19:44 am
Thank you so much for your comment, ma'am! I am happy you took the time to read my article and share your opinion. Everyone has a different experience of life, so I appreciate the fact that you disagree with my experience. I wish you the best of luck, and please let me know if I can help you in any way! :)
6/26/2014 07:01:53 am
Thank you for your comment! I appreciate your insights :)
8/19/2014 07:15:51 am
A timely article in a situation where I was looking for acceptance and approval from people who don't understand me. Thank you very much Dr.Morgan!
8/19/2014 08:56:50 am
I'm so happy it helped you, Prajesh!! Thanks for reading :)
1/10/2015 09:16:52 pm
While I appreciate what this article is saying. My question I have is, what does a person do about living in a world that gives positive emotional rewards to people who can contribute their gifts or talents to others without too much emotional cost to others? How do you acquire self worth without positive reinforcement some time in your life? What would you do if you didn't have the ability to help others, to feel postitive about yourself. People who have talents or gift that others want, have the ability to not care. I know it sounds negative but I see it as an "emotional barter system".
1/12/2015 08:25:43 am
Hi Amy! Thanks so much for your comment and good insights. I agree with you - it is very difficult to value yourself when you have been negatively programmed from childhood or otherwise. All I can say is that I know people who have overcome it. It's rare, but it can be done. I am very passionate about teaching young people to watch how they speak to their children so they raise them to love themselves :)
5/31/2015 12:05:05 pm
This is great - but how now, brown cow? How does one make real the concept of not caring whether or not they are valued, particularly when the people one values does not return the sentiment? What would be a state of mind or way of looking at things that might assist us in reprogramming the automatic feeling that arises when our need to be important or valued chronically goes unmet regardless of anything we do to engage with others differently? I like the idea of not caring. It seems unnatural because I can't imagine why any emotion should occur in that situation if it didn't have some message for me, but I'm willing to consider that it could be a common misfire. That said, now that you can see the difficulty I doubt I'm alone in facing when it comes to having feelings about being unimportant and not caring about being unimportant in order to avoid having those feelings, how does one accomplish this?
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