The Value of Love

How much do you think all your possessions are worth?

Do a quick calculation before you continue reading – even if it is just a guess off the top of your head.

This question was posed in the June 2011 issue of Psychologies Magazine, and (paraphrasing) it explains that new research* has found that when we feel loved and accepted by others, we are likely to decrease or underestimate the value of what we own because we derive a sense of protection and comfort from that love instead of needing it from our possessions.

I could rattle off a value based on my home contents insurance, but what struck me most was a comment about the corollary: of being super-protective about pricey objects…

I’d already noticed that I can get a bit obsessed with worrying about whether a guest is going to damage my furniture; not to mention how I feel about my partner’s care of my possessions sometimes! So this is clearly something I need to look at…

And if your valuation was relatively high, you spent a few minutes adding it all up or you identify with the ‘super-protective’ behaviour too then it might be worth taking a few moments to reflect on the sources of love in your life.

The article suggests making a list of the people whom you know love you. This is a great pick-me-up at any time, as well as for reminding us of the people we appreciate or whom we are missing and want to reach out to. But (for my own medicine) I’d like to add a couple of extra actions for recognising the value of love in our lives:

  • What do I feel really proud of just now, and so far this year?
  • What moments give me a sense of feeling at peace, oneness or being loved?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What do I love most about myself?

By answering these questions, we start to recognise love-filled experiences, people and characteristics that we might be overlooking.

I suspect our sense of security is influenced just as much by whether and how much we love ourselves, as it is by how much we feel loved by others. It is hard to accept love if we don’t love and accept ourselves.

For me, this is best summed up in The Verve song Lucky Man, where the lyrics declare: “All the love I have is in my mind”.

I’d love to hear whether answering the questions above helped you to feel more loved – by others, as well as yourself.


* Research: Clarke et al, Heightened Interpersonal Security Diminishes The Monetary Value of Possessions (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology).