Our culture worships success. On a daily basis, the “W” (for “win”) is highly-valued, perhaps above all things, while the “L” (for “loss”) is a sign we put on our forehead to indicate we didn’t just lose, but that we are a loser.
Our society is achievement focused. As a result, so are we. We focus on ways we can truthfully announce that we are enough to hang with the rest, that we are indeed winners: the income, the promotion, the marathons completed, the mountains climbed, the weight lost, the speed records broken. All along, there’s the necessity to win, win, win!
In the world of commerce, it’s the best-sellers that matter, those products that are bought by the most people, since the number of sales, or volume of money exchanged, are easy metrics to follow. Numbers tell a clear-cut story of success. Generally, the higher the number, the more the success.
For better or for worse, we mix up our sense of self-worth with how we are doing in the chosen metric of comparison. How wealthy or not wealthy are we? How fat or skinny are we? How “successful” or “unsuccessful” are we? How popular or unpopular are we? All of these types of measurable characteristics seem all-important, as they seem to endow us with our degree of inherent worth.
Or do they?
Personally, I am learning to see that my self-worth is not defined by external measures. Sure, I’m not perfect at this. But I’ve come a long way in recent months! It has been valuable for me to recognize that my self-worth is
- not my income
- not my net worth
- not my running pace*
- not # of marathons completed
- not my music-career success or overall success
My self-worth is intrinsic. It is unconditional. It does not change–grow or diminish–with any change in my success or failure in any endeavor.
My self-worth just is.
So is yours, by the way. Everyone has self-worth. Everyone is valuable simply for being. Sure, the pre-eminent reality of this gets clouded by all comparing and self-judging that is too easy for all of us to get stuck in.
The game of achievement and success has its virtues, yet the implication that life is a competition that we either win or lose is bogus. Personally, I’m in it for the fun of it.
How about you?
*A mights seem a little silly that I need the reminder that my self-worth is not my running pace, but given my running journey over the last few years, it actually helps.