How do we assess our value?
We’re nonchalant in the manner and frequency with which we use the word ‘worthy,’ without giving much thought to what it means. Our regurgitation of encompassing phrases is almost involuntary:
Find someone worthy. Know your worth. Don’t settle (for less than your worth).
It all sounds good. The very idea behind these proclamations is an admirable start. But where do we go from here? We’re often missing the direction and substance necessary to give such statements power.
Most believe that they’re great partners. But everyone doesn’t have pure intentions and a big heart. Everyone isn’t loyal or honest. Yet, they still perceive themselves in this light and aim to portray the image to others. Cognitive dissonance won’t allow them to accept otherwise. We need to believe that we are all that our words might say. Contradictory evidence causes mental discomfort. So, we eliminate the internal conflict by making excuses, pointing fingers or otherwise developing justifications.
The reality is that many are receiving from partners exactly the foolishness that they’re giving. Somehow though, they continue thinking that they deserve better or more. And no one can really say that they don’t.
To unravel this ambiguous concept of worthiness, let’s explore the notion of deserving something from another human being. We believe that we are entitled to certain things from people based on the role that they play in our lives and/or what we give in return. We set expectations based on nothing but these criteria. This leads to a picture in our minds of how things are supposed to be. Then, when the expectations aren’t met we feel slighted.
Nobody owes us anything. Not attention, not time, not reciprocity, not even love. We don’t like to hear that because it doesn’t seem fair. Nonetheless, we must allow others the choice to offer us these things — or not. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. We don’t have to maintain the relationship or like the outcome, but we must accept it and proceed accordingly. Presenting our wants and needs as obligations to be met will lead to inauthentic actions performed with reluctance, often leading to resentment.
We earn things or they are given freely, irrespective of what we do or don’t do — But under no circumstances is anything owed to us.
It took me awhile to come to this realization. I’d get upset when friends didn’t show up for me or reciprocate the effort that I put into the relationship. My feelings would be hurt when a partner didn’t demonstrate to me the same consideration I was careful to express. Based on my behavior, I felt I deserved more from them.
Several years of self-inflicted heartache later, I arrived at a place where I could release people of my expectations. This was done for my own mental and emotional well-being. It’s simple, if a friend isn’t being what I consider to be friend then maybe they shouldn’t be my friend. Or, I need to reassess the significance of the relationship and place it in the appropriate box. They don’t owe me more than they’re giving. Sometimes we have BFF expectations of people who really should be considered casual acquaintances.
When dating or in a relationship, I observe. I’m sure to communicate my feelings, needs and desires but don’t hang them over anyone’s head. It’s like, I’d love it if you felt for me the way I feel for you, but I won’t try to force the issue. I will let you go in peace if you can’t or refuse to engage me in a manner that lifts me up, instead of tears me down and makes me feel small. Not because you owe me, but because I owe me.
Our personal determination of worth is usually based on what we feel we deserve. Eliminating this idea that we are to collect from someone what is due to us because of how great we are, how much we want it, or any other reason helps us to not only cultivate the sense that we are innately worthy of that which we seek — but focus on those who can actually provide those things. Then, it helps us remain open to receiving. No one is eager to cater to a person who operates with a sense of entitlement. It manifests as condescending, often pessimistic arrogance.
This is far from an exact science. Without the passage of time, it can be difficult to determine who’s worth space in our lives, our trust, adoration and care. I believe it starts with separating the concept from any other person. Build yourself up. Love on yourself. If you hold yourself in high regard they will too.
We have more control over the way that others treat us than we like to believe. Because if we were to acknowledge this we’d have to hold ourselves more accountable for undesirable situations in which we find ourselves. You dictate your own value. You decide — and confirm — and enforce, your worth.
You’re worth whatever you say you are. Perhaps that’s a partner who will not be reckless with your heart. Maybe it’s someone who will embrace, not shame or take advantage of your vulnerabilities. It could simply be support, love and the absence of gross mistreatment that you desire. Even if it’s everything listed here and more, mean what you say and reinforce it with sustained action.
Finding someone worthy requires patience. Only if we’re lucky will we find what we’re looking for early in the process. It takes discipline to avoid succumbing to the weariness of waiting, and accepting adverse but available options as consolation. To find someone worthy means that we only seek to build meaningful relationships with those whose behavior consistently aligns with the esteemed perception we have of ourselves.