What are you worth?
How do you estimate that?
Most people that I encounter believe, (in theory,) that human beings are priceless. However, when it comes to self-assessment, those same people will try to gauge their worth in terms of what they produce, how much they contribute, or whether or not they are “a good person,” (determined by how they treat others.) All of these measures are entirely based on performance.
One of the principles I ask my parenting coaching clients to apply with their children is what I call, “separating the person from the behavior.” When their child acts up, they separate the kid from the behavior, love and affirm the child, while addressing and assessing consequences for the behavior. Kids don’t do the bad things they do because they are evil; they do them because they are actively learning how to manage being flawed human beings in the world. They need coaching. Healthy parental coaching includes understanding that children are not their behavior, that they are lovable in spite of their behavior, and, their behavior needs to constructively change.
It’s a stretch for some parents to do that. It’s a stretch for many, many more people to apply that same principle to self: You are not your behavior. You have value completely apart from both the good and bad things you do, fail to do and choose not to do.
I was at a funeral this week where this was demonstrated beautifully.
My cousin, who is middle aged and who has profound developmental delays, was an absolute delight through every one of the funeral rituals. After anyone spoke, she enthusiastically and loudly said, “THANK YOU!” and offered a great big smile. She was utterly curious about every little thing: “What are we doing now? Why are they doing that? Where are we going? What’s your name? Do you have a dog?” She gave us a stream of innocent and pure curiosity about everything and everyone around her. It was like having a butterfly dancing gracefully in the air, reminding us of beauty and Mischief. I am so grateful for her vibrant soul and for the way she shared herself with us. She was such a gift through what could have been a painful and overwhelming experience for many.
My cousin does not draw some impressive salary. She does not create great art or music. She does not write profound words or do things that we would see as overtly changing society for the better. She is not and will very likely never be married, have children, start a company, or discover some phenomenal medical breakthrough. She doesn’t have societal status. In fact, many people either look right through her or avoid her because they don’t know how to understand her behaviors. However, she is well beyond priceless. Her worth has nothing to do with contributions in the way we typically demand of ourselves. She is radiant and lovely, bringing sparkle and perspective everywhere she goes.
I want to challenge you to consider that the same is true for you, for me, and for every other human being on the earth. Our worth is not wrapped up in or dependent upon our classically defined contributions. Your worth is inherent. Your job is to find ways to share that worth in a way that others may see it and be changed by it, but your actual worth is not in the execution of that task. It just… is.
If you’re having trouble feeling good enough; if you feel stuck in your life or have nagging doubts about your worth, please click on the Contact Tiffany button above. I’d love to talk with you. Let’s work together to move you from surviving to thriving!
“Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant.” – Maya Angelou