How do you value yourself? Where does your feeling of self worth come from? I was having a conversation yesterday with someone who seemed to put the majority of their self worth in what other people, or in this case, one other person, thought about them. This is an issue, here’s why.
Some of you know this but I am a recovering drug addict. I’ve skirted that issue for many years with people because I was concerned with what they thought about me. I was concerned with how my personal value would decrease once they found out I wasn’t perfect. Sometimes there are two different sides to us. The side we show to the world and then the side we keep to ourselves. The side we show to the world is often times pretentious and unauthentic. The side we keep to ourselves is the real us but we are afraid to show anyone because we are worried that their opinions of us may change. I was this person and probably still am to a certain extent although I would argue I’ve moved towards more of an authentic human being in my recovery.
Two things. First, it’s incredibly unhealthy to put your self worth in anything other than something that is eternal. Why, you may ask? Excellent question. Say you put your self worth in your career, kids, spouse, friends, education, you pick the poison…what happens when that “thing” is taken or ripped away from you through some sort of tragedy? You lose your job, your friends move away or you move, divorce, God forbid you lose a loved one in an accident or to disease. What happens then? Well, your self worth diminishes because you’ve put all of your energy and all of your value in this temporary, pretentious thing. It doesn’t define you, or at least it shouldn’t.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you meet what you think is the person of your dreams. They are fun, smart, sexy, everything you’ve ever wanted. You get married and things are great for a while, you feel valuable. All of your self worth is tied up in this relationship. It defines you. You’ve waited for so long to finally find someone who wants to be with you. You’ve needed this and you’ll do everything you can to keep them. What happens if they cheat on you or do something else horrible? What happens when the relationship ends? How do you feel? What happens to your self worth? It plummets right?
You say, “Mike, you’re crazy this will never happen to me. I’ve met my soul mate and something like that will never happen to me. We even fight well!” Yeah? Let’s look at that scenario. Say everything is perfect and your life is a fairy tale. Both of you find your self worth in each other. You love each other and everything is great. Guess what happens to living people…they die. What happens when your spouse or significant other dies? Do you lose all the value you had as a human being? Maybe internally you do, it depends on where you place your self worth!
Second, and going back a couple paragraphs, if someone’s opinion of you changes, who cares? It has nothing to do with you. You can’t control their emotions or feelings about external things (which you are one of) and you can’t do anything to change them or their actions. What they think about you has everything to do with their perception about themselves. They perceive themselves a certain way and view the world through that lens. They view you through that lens. Does that make you a bad person because they have a negative opinion on you? No, not at all.
This is some deep stuff and I know this has gotten rather long and I apologize for that but it’s something that I think is important to the human condition. People all place their value somewhere. Many people who don’t put it in the right places find themselves lost. They know deep down that they are lying to themselves but they have no other way of looking at the world. It’s quite sad really.
So where do you place your value as a human then? You have to find something eternal and unchanging that will stay consistent regardless of your circumstances. What is that you say? Well, some people have figured it out, there’s really only one answer if you think about it. Can you guess what it is?