I know a person, let’s call him David, who has a big boat. He loves to take pictures on the boat, often with scantily dressed women around him. He also has a fast car and a big house. He loves to show this to the whole world. His live looks really cool, it could maybe even make people jealous. But, is he truly happy?
Sources of Self-Worth
Yesterday I had a great discussion with a friend about self-worth. Where do you get it from? He identified four sources: 1) other people’s opinions, 2) your possessions, 3) your actions, 4) your relationship with God. As you can see he is a religious person, so for the non-religious people I would like to translate the last one to 4) your values (or your relationship with yourself).
The first three sources of self-worth are external, the fourth one is internal. If you go bankrupt you may need to sell your car. And if you have done something bad in the past you may feel a lower sense of self-worth for the rest of your life. And public opinion is always changing. What remains constant, what isn’t influenced directly from the outside, are your values. They can influence your decision making, but they won’t judge you. Your values are, in my opinion, the best source of self-worth.
Combination of Sources
Does that mean that I’m only driven by my values? No. I’m just discovering what my values are, what I hold to very dearly. I’m just discovering how you can live the most fulfilling life, how to become calm. And I still get great pleasure from the good things I’ve done and look back with regret to other negative actions. I still find it nice if someone gives me a compliment about my clothing or my business.
Is that bad? I think it’s not. I think it’s a stepping stone to getting your self-worth from (only or mostly) your values. And during that journey, I will still be content with some external sources of self-worth, whilst at the same time, I will continue building my internal senses.
If I look back to David I can’t really judge if he is truly happy. He may be spending all his savings to live his extravagant lifestyle and he will be poor soon, but get his self-worth from his possessions. He may get bad press and have the opinion of others change for the worse. At the same time, he may have a strong sense of self-worth that is based on his values. He may just be around scantily dressed women and fast cars because he is interested in these things, without getting his self-worth from them.
How is your self-worth determined?