About five or six years ago, someone asked me the following question, “Upon what do you base your sense of worth?” I looked at him with a blank expression until it got uncomfortable for the both of us and he broke the silence with further comments.
But it is a very important question. Perhaps it is one of the most important questions when it comes to our own feelings of peace and worth. And it can also be a hard question if we don’t fully understand ourselves and our place in the world.
I don’t know about all of you, but for most of my life, I judged myself based upon what I did – tasks I accomplished, people I was kind to, selflessness I exhibited. Self worth was something that I earned. And for the most part, I was a decent person, and I earned it.
But the problem with earning our sense of self worth is that we can lose it. When we make a mistake (as we all do very often) our whole sense of self and any prospect of peace can just fade away. And our whole idea of worth can be eroded to almost nothing because of the countless number of mistakes, large and small, we all make in our lives. It becomes a battle of what we pay most attention to -- the good or the bad -- and quite a few of us will choose the bad.
But I’m starting to seriously question the whole idea of earning our sense of worth. The problem with it is that we can very easily lose all sense of worth. If we make a massive mistake that at the time seems to override everything else, we can come to the conclusion that we are, indeed, worthless.
And I’m not sure that is something that is really something that should be possible. Can a person ever actually be worthless, without any worth? Are there any people who are worth more than others?
Of course, there are people who contribute to society more than others. There are people who are kinder, gentler, and more selfless than others. And there are people who just truly make abhorrent decisions on a regular basis. According to most standards, we would say that some people are “better” than others, and by this, I think we are saying that those people are more capable of making decisions that benefit the larger good. And that’s fine if that’s what you want to do.
But to say that some people are worth more in an overriding sense… that just doesn’t sit right for me intellectually or spiritually.
And based on that, I think we need to re-evaluate what we base our opinions of ourselves on. Should our worth be based upon our decisions? What else is out there that could provide a more accurate determination of our worth? Do you truly believe that your worth is inherent in your humanity, and if so, how could you change your opinions about yourself to be more in line with that belief?