Value: The Economics of Self
Why it’s important to value yourself
Through the years, prices on all kinds of commodities have fluctuated. Early in my life, gasoline sold for 30 cents per gallon and in my teens, it went up to $1.19 a gallon. It’s obvious how much the price has gone up when we roll into a filling station. The value of many things fluctuates depending on many things including supply and demand and psychological processes. It’s interesting that I don’t have to be an economist, however, to understand that I determine my personal value in reaction to and how I respond to several things.
In considering how you developed your self-value, I like to draw a limited comparison between your birth and childhood to a new car. The new car’s history begins before it’s even in the showroom. It includes how the manufacturer built it and the protections it received before it is ready for the world to see. For people, self-value also forms before birth. Were you protected and nurtured during those nine months in the womb? Did your mother provide healthy nourishment? Though we have no memory of this information, our bodies take in this data and stores it in a mental hard drive.
Next, the car arrives at the showroom; it is on display for all to see its features and flawless exterior. If the dealer protected the car in its new environment, it retains its value. When you were born, your brain saves the data as to whether your parents protected you or abused and neglected you. It constantly reevaluates your personal value based on the information it receives.
My final comparison between a new car’s value and yours is the sticker price. For a new car, the company factors many things into that price; the car’s potential performance, its appearance and features, to name a few. When you began this life, others’ opinions and reactions to you influenced your sticker price or value. Were people happy to see and interact with you? Were you protected from those that were detrimental to your nurturing or were you continually exposed to them? Many things influenced our self-value from the beginning.
Let’s move to the specific people and things that have left their mark upon the price tag with which we labeled ourselves.
Our parents, whether they were present in our lives or not, influenced our perceived value.
A Parents’ Influence.
Our parents had a role in the formation of your self-value, based on how (good and/or bad) they communicated and responded to you through words and actions from the beginning. If your parents were loving and nurturing, you grew up believing that you have great value; they treated you with careful consideration. If you were important enough for your parents to invest their love, energy and time, our self-worth is high.
The opposite is also true. If your parents interacted with you using harsh words and actions, your personal price tag is low. Worse yet, if your parents were indifferent toward you, paying no attention to you, it’s as if they were saying, “You have no worth. I will pay nothing to interact with you.” Individuals can spend a lifetime trying to raise the value their parents placed on them. The same influence can come from other family members, such as our siblings, grandparents and aunts and uncles. Our family can help us determine how much value we place on our emotional and mental price tags.
Our Peers’ Influence.
As we grow and mature, our social circle widens. We move out of our immediate family circle and step toward peers we rub shoulders with daily. If we have learned to value ourselves within the home, it will be clear in how we conduct ourselves with others. Can we be ourselves or do we try to be people we are not, hoping to fit in? Are we threatened because others are better at some things than we are or do we tap into others’ strengths to enrich our own lives? Do we tolerate bad treatment from others or do we draw the line in the sand? Whatever we have decided our self-value is, our peers’ actions and reactions toward us will often reinforce our assessment of ourselves. People have a significant role in our determination of self-value but circumstances can, as well.
Though circumstances are not living beings that have a mind of their own and make choices on how they interact with us; they have an influence on how we value ourselves.
Life sometimes has a way of thrusting difficult circumstances at us in waves. Those of us who have a higher self-worth can respond to circumstances outside our control better than those who don’t. If we have placed a high value on ourselves, we can tackle each difficulty and strategize how we will handle each one. If we have a low self-value and we’re hit with challenges, one after the other, because we are dealing with them from a deficit in confidence and courage, they can weigh us down and even influence us to quit in life. Throughout each day, week, month and year, we are constantly adjusting the value we’ve placed on ourselves and it’s time to learn to reassess these judgments and look at our value with some insight.
- Realize that anyone that has influenced your self-value has their own self-assigned price tags.
We all have difficulties and burdens in life and how we have responded to them effects how we interact with others. There are many kinds of legacies our family passes down to us. Emotional, mental, physical and even spiritual legacies become ours. It takes reflection and reassessment in order for us to have an accurate self-value. This is a difficult path and few have the courage, stamina, and even the knowledge to walk it but it can be done. You are worth it!
2. Understand and choose to accept the value that God has placed on you.
The price someone is willing to pay for something determines its value. The Bible teaches in John 15:13 (NLT), “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus paid for our sins with His life and He would have done it even if you were the only person in the world. This is humbling and mind-blowing.
Jeremiah 1:5 says that God knew us before we were born; He knows everything about us and yet, He still gave His Son to die in our place.
Not convinced yet that you have value? Though Jesus told the parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15 for other reasons in context, it spells out the priority God gives us. In the story Jesus told, a man had 100 sheep and one gets lost. The man leaves the 99 and goes searching for the one. When he finds it; he rejoices. This story tells us that God Himself has placed a high priority on us who are lost and enables us to place a high value on ourselves. If we take the time to reflect on this, that God who knows everything about us and still would sacrifice everything for us, our self-value goes through the roof.
How God alone values us is enough for us to thrive in our lives. We no longer need to be a slave to the value that our families, peers and even circumstances have placed on us. Jesus’ life and death while on this earth illustrates how much God loves and values us.