Tuesday, October 25, 2011

To Know Your True Value

On some level, many of us were taught that value was something we needed to acquire- something to be earned or in some way received. Those who taught us- parents, teachers, ministers, media- shared what they’d been taught: that value (our worth as human individuals) had to be achieved in certain ways (by working hard, looking good, making a contribution, by speaking up or being quiet, by being compassionate or aggressive or stoic or expressive. . . . )

We do, of course, create situations, communities, achievements and interactions of value with hard work, compassion, or any other attributes. But our inherent value, does not need to be earned. And the often implicit (and therefore somewhat slippery and hard-to-get-ahold-of) belief that we can or must acquire value to justify our existance is simply not true. And it causes a great deal of suffering.

Been dipping into a book I read years ago, Soul Without Shame: A Guide to Liberating Yourself From the Judge Within, by Byron Brown. Brown examines how the belief that we must acquire or earn value makes us vulnerable to our inner Judge, the aspect of self that learned early in life to operate on the principle that we are not intrinsically valuable. The inner Judge pushes us to “measure up.” It doesn’t matter if we replace materialist values with spiritual ideals- striving to achieve value, however we define it, will only lead to suffering because it separates us from the truth of our own nature.

When we have a direct experience of ourselves as intrinsically valuable, the heart knows itself and a sense of homecoming arises. And, as Brown writes, in that moment you know “you have a right to be here because you are made of the same essential substance as everything else in the universe,” and “by its nature that substance is of value. . . .” We, like everyone and everything else in the universe, are Life. And Life has/is value.

It may sound simple and self-evident. But the unconscious or semi-conscious belief that we must earn our right to be, prove our value to others and the world, drives many- I would say the vast majority in western cultures- for most of our lives.

What you are by virtue of being- regardless of how your life is going, regardless of what you are currently doing or identified with, or how you are presenting yourself to or being seen by others- is inherently of value.

That's the truth.

What if you knew this, really knew this?

What would you be free to be, to do, to question, to create if you fully realized that you do not have to acquire value, do not have to earn the right to be, to belong, to love and be loved?

How would you choose to spend your days, your life, your moments if you knew you were inherently of value simply be virtue of being?

(c) Oriah 2011


  1. and yet despite this knowing, dear kindred, it does not pay bills to occupy space in this material world, however minimal one's needs.

  2. aqs- apples and oranges my dear. Paying bills is actually relatively easy for most, compared to knowing their own value- and realizing that that inherent worth is there whether or not the bills are paid. Please do not misunderstand me- I am a meticulous budgeter who has been paying her all own bills (along with the bills for numerous others) for over 40 years. I keep my needs simple and yes, there is a certain satisfaction in taking care of business. But it is also easy to mistake our value for how well we do this (which of course puts the elderly or the disabled in a precarious position.)Our value is inherent, intrinsic to beingness. We do not earn it. We earn money, rent, payment for food- that is something quite different.

  3. Oriah I hope that you know how much this blog and your posts on FB mean to those of us who "follow" them. Although I do not often respond, sometimes you give me food for thought and contemplation for days. Valueing myself is a gift that has come with old age and the fruit of that gift is valueing others. When you stop competing, comparing, striving, and always worrying about whether or not you "measure up", then you can really see others. Hopefully you can help them to value themselves, as you help us. lizzie

  4. I think I understand, the money you earn to live or how you live does not equal your value. Your value is inherent and you are who you are, not what you do, no matter how much ego is involved. As well, that you follow a moral and ethical compass does not define your "value" as that would be measuring.
    Thank you for asking the questions which help to guide my thinking.

  5. this is such an enormous truth that has taken me 40 years to begin to realize. It is so empowering. I used to live my life worried at every moment about what others might think until I finally realized that I don't necessarily like every person and that is just normal. I see my value as a human being now and have realized that I can choose who is healthy and wonderful to be around and who is not. I can consciously look for the gifts other posess, for they all posess them. I am much more fun to be around now. I used to always leave it up to others to decide if they liked me or not and my 'self' only came out if I trusted that the people I was around liked me. That is slavery, truly. I am so happy to be free of it!