There are times in life when we question our worth.
It could be our worth as a parent, or as an employee or as a friend. At an extreme level, we could question our worth as a human being. Whatever the cause for feeling unworthy, from having a tough upbringing, or going through a trauma such as the death of someone dear, they can affect our self-worth and self-esteem. When we having feelings of worthlessness, the downward spiral into despair and depression can happen fast.
Society has placed great emphasis on a person’s value based on their ability to generate an income. Our worthiness depends on our contribution to the economy, the value that can be extracted from us doing some form of work. The concept of our worth being measured by our financial contribution to the economy or those around us, is not new. But today, with social media and an ‘always-on’ society, people feel ‘left out’ or marginalised that aren’t participating.
Many young adults in South Africa face a bleak future with our unemployment figures climbing to a staggering 27,6%! Including ‘discouraged work seekers,’ this put the expanded unemployment rate at closer to 40%. There is no doubt this is having an effect on how people value themselves. Young adults facing limited job prospects postpone their transition into adulthood. ‘Failing to launch,’ they remain financially dependent on their parents, delaying to start their own families and households.
In a Harvard Business Review article titled Unemployment, Parental Help, and Self-Efficacy During the Transition to Adulthood, by Jeylan Mortimer, Mike Vuolo and Jeremy Staff, they conducted a study of young adults as they progressed through life over an 11 year period. They found that unemployment reduced young adults’ self-esteem and worthiness, regardless whether it was accompanied by parental support or not. Parents’ giving their children financial support during this time, further harmed their self-efficacy. Their inability to contribute meaningfully added to their feelings of inadequacy.
As people continue to struggle to find jobs and the longer they remain unemployed, so their prospects decline to actually be hired. As they become less employable and remain jobless or take a lower paying job, the toll on their self-worth and self-esteem is inevitable. Losing a job can be traumatic, leaving many feeling ashamed and blaming themselves.
Rahaf Haroush is a strategist and digital anthropologist with a different message: You Don’t Have to Change The World to be of Value. She believes in a world where we are taught our success determines our worth, the true value of self has become distorted. But, she emphasises, we are not products of our job, our careers, or our ability to be economically active. In fact, nothing should be able to make us feel unworthy.
You are worthy as you are.
We all have a worldview that has been built up over time, with our own experiences that influence our personal outlook. Knowing that we all experience our fair share of trauma, loss and other hardships, and the negative effect on our self-worth, we can look inward to find our worth. Feelings of sadness, anger and disappointment can be overcome by finding the positive within yourself.
Having a belief that you are worthy as you are, without anything else needed, your feelings of being undeserving can be overcome. Remind yourself that just ‘being’ is enough. By being the authentic ‘you,’ you are well on your way to knowing your worth.
Have an awesome weekend. 😉
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