Resolving Addictive Behaviour, Relationship Issues, and Trauma

Ice Rainbows – A Blog

On Being Precious

When I moved to London from California in 2005, I already knew that some words in British English have connotations different to those same words in American English. Social context is everything. Bother! I had difficulty communicating what I meant when I used the word precious. In general, I meant valuable, so that by saying “you are precious” I meant that “you are valuable, prized, of incalculable worth”. What I didn’t mean was “artificial, affected or twee”.

Pia Mellody talks and writes about preciousness in that first sense. One of her recorded lecture series is entitled “Permission to be Precious”, and she alludes to the notion in most of her books. And it was in getting to know Pia, and in being trained by her, that I came to understand the relationship between our precious natures and self esteem. And I have grown in my understanding over the years, and realised how central the concept is to addictions recovery, to healthy and functional relationships, and to good mental health. When we accept that we ARE precious then many, if not all, of our self esteem issues begin to soften, to heal, to go away.

How? Pia speaks of the fact that a child is precious, precious from birth, and we know from experience that this is true. We also know from researchers in human development that when a child (you and I) attaches to her or his adult caregivers in a healthy way, that child innately experiences herself or himself as having value. S/he IS invaluable, precious, regardless of the care received; but the child has to learn it (or not) through its interactions with the world, with its parents, with other adult caregivers. So the understanding of our value unfolds when we are fully cared for/about. If that process is interrupted, or if our parents themselves don’t recognise their own value, our preciousness isn’t reflected back to us, and we fail to know the truth about ourselves. When our nurturing is insufficient, when we suffer abuse or trauma, when we are neglected, we are deprived of the opportunity to know the truth about ourselves.

Learning and accepting the truth about ourselves, the truth that we are invaluable, deserving to be prized, priceless and precious, is a core issue in leading a healthy, functional, fulfilling life.

Self esteem is, quite simply, acknowledgment of that truth. In the words of Aleksandr Orlov (the meerkat of advertising fame): Simples!

Our value isn’t in our self esteem. Our value is inherent to our being alive. Self esteem is the act and experience of knowing our intrinsic value, and telling the truth about it. So when I drop my self esteem by going one-down or one-up on others, that says nothing about my value per se; it just tells me that I’ve forgotten the truth about myself and am engaged in a falsehood.

So, “Surrender to the fact that you are precious – there is No debate”. That repeated act of surrender, of telling yourself the truth, is a brilliant place from which to continue your spiritual and emotional healing and recovery.

Dennis Durby, MSW/MBACP (Snr Accred) © 2012
21 June 2012