What does this word mean to you?
Consider some of the possibilities…
- a dollar amount you attach to a thing you buy, or
- the future benefit of earnings in today’s time calculated with a best guest interest rate (yes I used to be an accountant), or
- the opinion of an expert you do not know advising what something is worth, or
- a number printed on a price tag by someone other than you.
Value, as shown in these examples, is often equated to a number. Value is often external. Value is used to compare other things of perceived value based on personal filters.
Value can also be tied to you and still be external. Take for example your salary if you work for an employer or the rate you charge if you are in business for yourself. Each represent a combination of factors. Some are within your sphere of influence, many are not. Often cited factors include market, experience, role, location and industry. So many variables outside of you that determine your value.
Value again is equated to a number and is largely external. Value is again used to compare with others.
Is there an alternative?
Yes and no. Whilst we live in a world that uses external value as a measure for comparison we will inevitably be measured in this way. What matters though is our starting point. We have a choice about how we engage in this world. Do we value our self first before we let others value us or do we let others value us first?
What if you value YOU first?
What if you focus on self worth rather than other worth?
This is to me one of the most challenging questions many of us face. For our whole life we are taught from an early age to compare ourselves to others. Our self esteem goes through undulating rollercoaster rides of ups and downs. We are sure and then unsure. We try a new way and then get shut down. We go aggressive, we go passive, we sit on the fence. There is no right or wrong way in the learning of worth.
Yet for many the scars and wounds of self worth battles lost weigh heavily within us years beyond the experience or incident. We carry these losses around our necks like heavy weights, consciously and unconsciously.
“I thought I was worth more but ‘they’ said no”.
“I thought I was worth more but I failed”.
“I thought I was worth more but it was too hard”.
The list of excuses and defenses of our lack of self worth are endless. What is actually lacking are the endless lists in support of our full worth.
I know this is true because I struggle with this challenge. Even today I can feel the external pressure of others and question my value. If I am not grounded and centred in a balanced view of my self and what I offer and do to serve others I am influenced by fear, worry and concern. I let what others think creep into my perception in a negative rather than positive way.
When I am grounded and clear though I feel the worth within. I feel it in every fiber of my being. It is the most amazing feeling. It is not from the ego, but from the heart. There is no comparison. I do not feel better nor worse than anyone. I simply am tuned into the value I offer and bring into the world. It may or may not relate to my work. It goes far beyond this exchange. It goes to the very essence of my existence and why I am here. It relates to purpose and direction.
When I am really focused, clear and as I might say, on path, nothing wavers me from this place. I know that each minute, hour, day, month and year I contribute on this earth through my existence I am making a difference in some way. It may be subtle or very obvious. No matter what, just by being me and being clear about being me I stand in my worth. I do not need others to validate this worth. I do not need others to put a number on this worth.
I am tested often. I am tested in big and little ways. It always comes back to how I see myself, how I stand up for myself and how I stay true to myself. Again this is not in an egotistical or selfish way. It is more of a knowing and honouring of what is unique, special and great about being me that I bring into the world. If I give myself permission to see and KNOW this in me then I can be this whole person for others.
You see if I do now value myself then I now know that others will not either. Value does not come from others it comes from me. It comes from deep within. Value is inner driven and matched externally, not the other way around.
How do we learn worth? We don’t take a class and suddenly have worth. No instead we engage and participate in life. This is our life journey. We are continually discovering and shaping our self perception. For some it may be unlearning what we learned when we were young. For others it may be making sense at a new level of life’s experiences.
One thing I do notice as I experience more of life (yes I am lucky to have a few years under the belt), is that what I think are challenges in life are in fact opportunities. I say opportunities because we run into situations that force us to stop. These hurdles, brick walls, whatever you want to call them, create a point of regathering. They also force us to go within and ask big questions. The biggest question is ‘what am I worth’ or ‘how much do I value myself?
So the person in your life who you might think is giving you a hard time is in my view on another level helping you. The person who challenges you is forcing your hand. You have a choice to either stand up for your self (worth) or capitulate, give in, roll over and hide. The latter choice is so much easier. For some a fight is also easier. Get all aggressive and get things your way. Only when you get them there is a deep empty feeling still unsatisfied because within you the value was compromised.
Take this to another level. Imagine that each person you encounter has a deep sense of self worth. Then when you engage with this person their motivation is not from a place of being better or less than you. It is about being equal. Then this person comes from a balanced heart centred place.
Why do I see it this way? If we do not get self worth right then we can never get other worth right. For if we don’t come to relationships equally we will not be in balance. If you do not value your self then you will always value the opinions of others more than yours. You will always defer to others who you value more.
With this post I invite you to think. Yes I want you to stop and reflect. Your insight gained may not only help you but also everyone around you.
How much are you worth?
What value do you provide in the world within which you live and work?
Why do you matter?
I know perhaps big questions for a newsletter article. Yet I am asking these and find the answers so revealing and worthwhile that I am challenging you to do the same. I imagine that if you read this newsletter you already are used to me asking tough questions.
So today is one of those days.