ARE YOU WORTH ANYTHING?
There are two possible answers: Yes or no. And, whatever your answer there is the ugly, “How do you know?” Keep in mind that a great deal seems to depend on your answer. I suppose the bottom line determines whether or not you will go to heaven or the other place.
Kids are desperate to know their value because they have an inborn fear of being deserted by their parents. If they get the message that they are worthless that's the end, or at least until they can figure out a way to become worthwhile again. While at the bottom is survival, the less stringent penalties for worthlessness are punishments and loss of the goodies of life. I remember accidentally hearing my father say, “That damned kid.” Well, I was the only kid around and I was stabbed by his cruel rejection of me. I returned a pencil he had given me and made the usually whiny noises produced by distressed kids and dogs. My parents were horrified but clarified by explaining he had meant a young man at work. Still, it took a while for the would to heal.
Obviously, if you are worth something you are at the top of your world. Friends want you on their teams, teachers smile when you walk into the classroom and when you get older, girls or boys (depending on your proclivities) hover around. A worthwhile person, kid or adult is a joy to be and a joy to have around.
If you conclude the opposite, that you are worth little or nothing, well, you've all been there. There is nothing but gloom in your life, you have failed the basic test of being and there is no pleasure. It often becomes a rather desperate situation and sometimes leads to substance abuse, promiscuity, passivity in relationships and very often failure. Everybody in has at one time or another concluded that he/she is worthless or worth little in the grand scheme of things. Self-esteem is low and verbal self-abuse abounds.
Religion often is based on threats of hell or hopes of paradise so shape up, act right and you'll earn your wings. Some argue that God don't create no junk, but the fear is that God don't want no junk in heaven; only Satan is for the worthless sorts because they deserve punishment.
Well, you probably have figured out that the above is all humbug, that striving for self-worth is a foolish task that slips and slides depending on mood and circumstance. If you get an A and are thus worthwhile, what are you worth if you get an F? And, how can you be worthwhile? So much of it depends on the people around you. All of them have idiosyncratic ideas about such things so how can you get any basis for knowing about your worth. You get an F. One teacher tells you how disappointed he is. The other tells you he knows how hard you tried. Both want you to do better but how do you react?
If the chase for worth is like searching for fools gold, what is left? The real gold is in shifting one's focus. Instead of straining for fools gold, work on self-acceptance. Quote Albert Ellis: “I am a fucked up fallible human being who will screw things up royally. That is unavoidable, that is human nature. Instead of rating myself I'll see if I can figure out how to do better. If I can, swell. If not, maybe I should change my goal.”
There is a wonderful outcome to this: You stop punishing yourself or others and do your best to improve things. And, to accept the reality, “That’s life.”
Self worth is quite a mirage
To give it up takes a bit of courage.
But if you remember to say
I don't need to be okay
Self acceptance is a tasty frommage.