Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Question: What is Personal Value?

What is value?

What does it mean to have value?
What does it mean to be valuable?
What does it mean to give value or bring value? definitions I like best:
1. relative worth, merit, or importance
11. (Ethics) any quality desirable as a means or as an end in itself
12. (Fine Arts) a degree of lightness or darkness in a color

17. to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance
18. to regard or esteem highly
Synonyms: "Worth" implies especially spiritual qualities of mind and character, or moral excellence

Bringing or giving sounds very business-like. It implies an exchange of something. A reciprocity most often found in business relationships. Do I have something to give? The general consensus is yes, everyone has talents and abilities that that can contribute to society. The trick is to discover and develop those talents and abilities, put them to good use, increase those opportunities over time to bring your professional value to the world. Well what if you cannot find a way to give those valuable traits to the community - what if you cannot find a job? What if you are unable to do that job because of some accident or some unforseen circumstance? Are you still valuable?

The question of being valuable implies that someone else sees value in you. Although it inherently makes us feel good to be thought of as valuable to someone else, this sense of value should not be at the heart of our own sense of self worth. Their beliefs are entirely separate from our own selves and have the potential to change. If our value is based solely on another's belief that we are valuable, and if they change their mind for whatever reason, then we must change our selves to meet their approval and become valuable once again. While we can change our actions and those actions may change their beliefs about our value, ultimately we have no control over their beliefs. The fact that we do not control their sense of what is valuable shows that being valuable to others is not the strongest foundation of self esteem.

But what does it mean to posess value? What does it mean to know that we are valuable not for what we bring in terms of talents and abilities and not just because we are special to others? What does it mean to have value? Not because of who loves us or because of how we contribute day to day. This is a personal question, an internal quesion. No-one else can give us the answer.

It feels akward to say "I am valuable." When a statement doesn't reflect an inner thought or belief, it creates conflict. It's what makes this positive statement or affirmation so darned weird. If it's true that knowing and understanding one's own value brings peace to the soul and serenity to a person, then I certainly do not know or believe in my own value.

Knowing I am valuable to others brings me a feeling that I am loved and appreciated for who I am. Whoever that may be. But it shouldn't be the reason I feel valuable because I do not posess that value.

Knowing that I bring value through my talents and abilities makes me feel confident and sure of my contribution to the community at large. Whatever those contributions may be. But it also shouldn't be the reason I feel valuable. What if I am unable to contribute those gifts to society?

What if someone else told me that the gifts and talents I posess are not valuable. Whoa. Double whammy. Where do I stand then? Guh.

So what IS personal value?

What is my personal value?


  1. This is a great question. I liked the article and what you said about not relying on others for our worth. If I could just believe that I am intristically valuable because I care and give and help others, because in reality this does help contribute to society.
    Id love to see more responses. Still questioning.

    1. Thanks for commenting Jessica! It IS such a good question isn't it? I am continually evolving my answer. One day I think I'm valuable because I did something great and it felt good just to give it to the world but then the next day I question how much impact that good thing really had on the world. In those moments, I tell myself that if I truly believe everyone else is valuable (which I do) then I must be valuable too even if I don't see it at that moment.

      So pleased that you saw value in this post. ;o)