Partially decayed plant matter in wetlands is called peat. Although it’s found in soggy ground it can catch fire, and it will burn at a temperature so low it doesn’t flame; it smoulders. There are vast underground peat fires in Tasmania that have been burning for decades.
Occasionally the smouldering peat can set alight dry material on the surface, and begin a forest fire.
In past centuries, Northern European cottages would have peat fires burning all year round. Every few hours someone would throw onto the fire another lump of peat. There wasn’t a flame, but the heat generated from the smouldering peat warmed the house and cooked the food.
We were born with a sense of self-worth. It comes with an enormous capacity to absorb love. We have a strong sense of entitlement, and with indignation we demand our mother’s love and attention. It’s an inherent part of being an infant human.
As we grow we come to understand that the world does not revolve around us. In our late teens we no longer need love to grow, and our self-worth can wither, or get a battering. Some people are repeatedly told,‘You’re bad!’or ‘Good girls don’t say those things,’or ‘You’re stupid,’ and worse.
‘Boys are made of slugs and snails, and puppy dogs’ tails.’
A line from an old nursery rhyme.
However, our self-worth remains deep within us, like the peat fire that smoulders away below the surface. We were born with it and it’s always there. We just need to remain in touch with it, to feel its warmth.
‘Self worth . . . cannot be given to you, nor can it be taken away. It can be stomped on, hidden, denied, disbelieved, ridiculed, questioned, showted at, ignored, dobuted and diminished – but it is always there. Waiting.’
Gay McKinley, ‘On Becoming Good Enough’. Page viii.
Some people can’t feel their inner flame, so they conscientiously absorb barbs and defeats, and lose the ability to absorb love. Although they have far more to offer society than a baby, who can only eat, poo, smile and scream, they don’t feel loveable. Their self-worth is low.
Why is that?
Because after our infant years, we are not meant to retain a strong self-worth. It is meant to be fragile. We are meant to feel insecure about what others think of us.
It’s a nice little trick we evolved. Dishearting for the individual, but good for the tribe. See you in the next chapter.