What are you worth?

What are you worth?

It can be difficult to settle on an explanation of self-worth. Is it related to the roles that I take on in my life, or the skills that I can demonstrate in various ways, or the dollars that I am able to earn? Is it the relationships that I have, or the contributions that I make, or the amount of energy that I have?

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We live in a world that revolves around financial worth. We are quite used to having to pay for everything that we require in order to live. There is a price tag for just about everything: food, shelter, water, plants, dirt, sand, salt, oxygen, communication, work, time, …  and so on. ‘Economically viable’ and ‘economic rationalism’ are terms we have become accustomed to, where, in simplistic terms, costs versus gain are weighed up before proceeding with a concept for a business deal.  Central to our thinking, in so many aspects of our lives, is financial cost. It is the way the world works and the way that we can operate with fair exchange.

When a colleague asked me the question the other day: “What are you worth?” I cringed (and this was immediately brought to my attention!), because I knew that the question required a cost figure that was in keeping with the conversation. I found that I had great difficulty in assigning a dollar tag to myself. You see, I do not view myself as worth any more or any less than anyone else on the planet. The tricky bit for me comes when the goods and services that I offer become the measure of my worth. I know at some level that my intrinsic value as a person is not tied to my hourly rate of providing a service, but in the moment of being asked, I was caught with my automatic response to measuring my worth. I wonder if the majority of us really differentiate our respective ‘values’?

I find it interesting that the same word – worth – is used for describing our individual humanity and also for describing our marketplace engagement. We know that the value of goods and services is made according to product and service differentiation in the marketplace, but to assign a numerical figure to a person’s worth confounds human value and does not sit well with me.

It seems to me that self-worth has become caught up with the cost aspect of value and worth, and many people value themselves by how much money they are able to earn or how well-off they are financially or what level of job they have. I have often heard “I am just a mother / cleaner / admin assistant,” as if they are devalued because of their level of income production. Generally speaking, in our society, it is those who have more money, or a higher paying job, who are also attributed with having greater value.

In a world that places so my emphasis on cost value, we may be left wondering about, or diminishing our innate and real human worth.

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About Margaret Lambert

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Comments

  1. Marg I love this post. I too believe that I am no better and no worse than another. The most difficult part of this way of thinking is that society bases self-worth predominantly on the dollar figure as you explained. The worst part is when an individual believes that they are not as “good” as another due to their income status. What does this build in the core of a person? And what do they then pass on to their children? I hope that for my children that I instil a sense of loving who they are, just as they are, building their self esteem based on their own findings, their own successes, whatever they may be and in whatever form they need. And my two cents on your worth… you are an incredible woman with such empathy for others. Joy. xxx

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