I had a conversation today that got me thinking about the concept of self worth. Specifically, what is it about a person that makes that person feel "valuable" enough to be worthwhile being around. In this specific case, one argument stated without financial success, little else was seen as worthwhile. The other stated, put simply, that self worth should be internal, and not dependent by and large on external determination, although external judgements should factor in to some degree.
Seen from the outside, the "only money matters" argument seems rather trite, and maybe it is...but it still got me to thinking, since there is more than a grain of truth to this statement. In our increasingly materialistic... and narcissistic... society, income uber alles does indeed seem to be the message. Especially in the realm of relationships and mating. This specific topic is best left to another post, but suffice it to say that in these times, low wage earners are typically single.
In relation to self-worth though, this only represents a small portion of the whole. Sure, romance might be a bit tough to come by, but what of everything else? Does economic hardship reduce the worth of a person in other areas? Or is it a crucible, producing diamonds as well as coal?
Is it hardship, or opportunity to prove one's "worth"?
Relationships outside of the dating world do indeed suffer if money is needed to facilitate those relationships (as in the case of a Dad having to travel to see his kids), sometimes leading to the complete breakdown of those relationships. Professional relationships suffer as a result of lack of money as well, for instance the inability of a salesman to afford to "schmooze" with high-income clients leading to competitors taking over the accounts. Indeed, threadbare clothing or a shabby car can lead to loss of sales income as well...all through loss of status via economic hardship.
So finances play a part in wider social acceptance and relationship building of many kinds. So? How does this then affect one's self-worth?
Well, this is where society as a whole comes in...
External forces (ie social disapproval for "lazy bums" and "losers") isolate those with limited finances, almost as if they were diseased...and this cannot help but affect the self worth of the individual.
So it seems there's more validity to the "money is everything" argument than first blush would suppose. But what of the other argument, that worth comes from within? That it is intrinsic to every human life? That one doesn't need so much to "prove" self worth as to recognize it?
Is there truth to that?
The Bible certainly says so. So does every major religion for that matter. Or more to the point, they say that everyone has the chance to attain greatness (Nirvana, Heaven, fame through the ages, etc), and that all one has to do to attain this is to believe that it's possible and work toward it.
Even Deepak Chopra agrees with this train of thought..
Anything that universally accepted (and frankly, anecdotally at least, shown to be true) has to have some validity to it.
From a Psychological standpoint, it's tough to get up and run when you've chained yourself to the floor...so to speak.
But we all know and love some people who are quite "flawed", do we not? Sometimes we're even Married to them, we love them so much. Sometimes we even support them through tough times, even financial ones.
What is it about them that makes us help? They don't have money, so they're "worth"less, right? No?
It's because we've taken the time to know the person, and that obviously means that persons worth is not completely attached to his/her income, maybe even not at all....
Many of the great luminaries of history were poor, from great composers and musicians, to great artists, and scientists. Their worth was certainly not determined by income...
I suspect the "truth", as always, lies somewhere between the two viewpoints. But the lesson is there for me, for MRAs and even men in general...
Don't let the bastards get you down, keep what's important to you in sight at all times, and if you can't move forward at least try not to go backward. Because ultimately, self-worth is gained through conquering adversity, or knowing one is capable, in a much more meaningful way that simply being told so..