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