Defining your self-worth is tricky. Most people pick up definitions of value from the messages their cultures and parents project. Growing up, many find that society as a whole ties worthiness and value to what people do and how people are rather than who people are. In a culture surrounded by discussions of wealth, beauty, fame and success, the analysis of intrinsic value very rarely enters the equation, meaning very few people know what it is.
What is Your Intrinsic Value?
Your intrinsic value is your perception of your inherent value as a living, breathing individual. Intrinsic value isn’t related to any consequential outcomes such as merits, achievements, status or even your value to others. You continue to have intrinsic value throughout your life even if you did nothing.
The idea of being worthy of existence in and of itself is baffling to most. We’ve been conditioned to accept that people should earn their value and worthiness in life, which is why we are so quick to dismiss ourselves (and sometimes others) and “worthless” members of society.
Regardless of what your personal opinions may be, nobody is worthless, and nobody has the authority or wisdom to make such evaluations of others. Everyone has an intrinsic value, no matter how beneficial they are to society, but this is a difficult concept to grasp in a world where worthiness is inherently tied to external validation.
How External Validation Skews Your Ideas of Intrinsic Value.
Too many people define their worth and decide what they do in life according to societal and external perceptions and expectations of themselves. They’ll take jobs which aren’t personally fulfilling or stimulating, style themselves a particular way or change their body to match external standards of attractiveness.
Due to their dependency on external validation, people subsequently go forth determining their worth according to how well they match up to external expectations. They’re only valuable if they are wealthy, a good parent, a philanthropist, an accomplished daughter or a successful business person.
But fo course, things start to break down when people fail to conform to external standards. If they fall short of such high standards, make a mistake or fail at an endeavour, they break down. Their whole identity and self-esteem shatter and they begin to doubt whether or not they’re deserving of acceptance.
When people lose their jobs, status, wealth or reputation, they crumble under a sense of worthlessness and begin to believe that they have no value in life anymore.
This is why uncovering and accepting your intrinsic value is so important. You can’t allow the world, other people and external circumstances to determine how you feel about yourself. Such determining factors are too unstable to base your worth on; the only stable constant you can rely on in life is you.
Understanding and identifying your intrinsic value in a world which doesn’t recognise it seems like a near-impossible task, but living a successful and fulfilled life demands that you do so.
What’s the use of Your Intrinsic Value?
Understanding your intrinsic value isn’t about fluffing up your ego or giving yourself positive daily pep talks. It’s about challenging your outdated core assumptions about what constitutes value in life and cultivating a mindset that helps you make a difference in this world without external limitations.
Your culture, society, family and friends will have told you throughout your life what is valuable. They will have either actively or passively placed value on academia, money, love, family, charity, freedom, order or faith. All of these things are valuable to someone out there, but they don’t constitute your intrinsic value.
To become successful and strengthen your esteem and sense of self, you need to reclaim your sense of autonomy from these external factors you’ve aligned your value alongside. Your intrinsic value is your strongest and most reliable source of support in a world of uncertainty and anxiety. Your intrinsic value also becomes a building block upon which you can build fortitude, perseverance, unconditional acceptance and confidence.
You are valuable just in being in this world. What you end up doing with your life only goes on to serve yourself and the world around you for the better.