How is your worth determined? We live in a society today that tells us what we have, not who we are determines our worth. Do you have a good job? The right title? Are you making a certain amount of money? Are you married? Do you have kids?
I see this often in my counseling practice. I used to work at a school in a poor community, where most of the kids would come in hungry because they didn’t have breakfast in the house. Out of all of the young men on my caseload, all but one wanted to be one of three things when they finished school: a professional athlete, a rapper or a drug dealer. They were constantly being fed this message from the media, their peers, their families that this was all they could amount to. Why could they not be doctors, lawyers or business owners? Whenever I would pose that question to them they would always respond the same, “I’m not good enough or smart enough to do that.”
I currently work in a more affluent community. These kids come into my office extremely stressed, anxious and depressed because they got B’s on their report card or might not make it into the college their parents want them to get into. They may have enough food in their bellies, but the underlying theme is the same…Am I good enough? Am I worthy?
The problem is that if our worth is determined by outward things, we will forever be a victim of our circumstances. And guess what? Circumstances change. We lose our jobs, go bankrupt, get a divorce, get cut from the team. Now what? Our entire world falls apart because that is how we determined our worth. Every time something bad happens, it has the power to set us on this downward spiral to self-pity, anxiety and depression.
Here’s a good example. A little boy wants to play football. (Or maybe mom and dad want their son to play football). The boy does really well all through high school and ends up with a scholarship to a good university. He plays through college, devoting all of his time and energy to his craft, but he doesn’t end up making it pro (surprise, surprise not many do). Who is he now? His entire identity was his football career and now that’s gone. Major quarter-life crisis!
I think the conversation needs to change. We need to start teaching our children, nieces, nephews and friends that their worth begins inside. Because when your worth comes from within, you will finally have freedom, you will finally feel at peace. Instead of focusing on grades, jobs, money, titles, maybe the questions we should be asking are:
Are you kind?
Are you generous?
Are you a good friend?
Are you loving?
Are you forgiving?
What can you do to help others?
Did you make a positive difference in someone’s life today?
Shouldn’t that be what our worth is really based on? My father used to always say that you should leave a place better than how you found it. Maybe our worth should be based on that. Maybe that’s how we begin to make the world a better place.