The Function of Worth


Change of Season, Mt. Harris -2014

Last week, a good friend of mine shared an insightful perspective on how his self-worth was determined. He shared specifics of how his perspective changed in the context of his romantic relationships. I want to share how his change in perspective effected my own.


My friend shared how he’d let others make determinations on his worth. Offering himself up to others to be deemed worthy or not. He’d made a pattern of it.

Now, before I continue, as he was telling me this I asked myself ‘what’s motivating this behaviour?’

He continued and provided a wider context reaching back to childhood. The power of what he shared really hit me. He realized and shared the idea of another person being a part of self-worth seems counterintuitive.

However, as he shared I found similar contexts (romantic relationships and childhood) resonating. His self-worth was like the values generated from a function, he controlled the input, and the output was his worth. If he changed, he could get output higher and if it was high enough someone would validate it as ‘worthy’.

His recent change in perspective is that he controls the function. And, his worth is only meaningful if he is the one making that determination.

Keeping the analogy of a function, for me, it wasn’t letting others judge my output as ‘worthy.’ No, I was turning over the entire function to others. Letting others determine how much my effort was worth. So, even before I could make the decision to feel worthy, others’ ideas had already had their effect.

Now, getting back to my favorite question, ‘what’s motivating this behaviour?’ I asked what is this seemingly insatiable drive to derive [drive to derive sounds funny to me :-)] worth from sooo many areas of life? Well, for me it’s the macro-culture coupled with the deep seeded desire to fit-in. That’s what kept my friend from feeling valued, and me from ever noticing I let my ‘value function’ fail me for quite some time.

The word that came to my friend and I was ‘empowering.’ For the first time I can genuinely connect with feeling empowered from the inside rather than a constant search for validation from others. To quote my friend ‘Watch out world!”

Needless to say, it’s been a week dense with thought, feeling, and epiphany (and a few nights of all that, with Netflix and gluten-free cookie dough)

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