Society has tangled self-worth and wealth – I’m here to dig a little deeper.
As the Queen of introspection I often ask myself “why”. Usually, whatever I’m questioning is an action. The questions form along the lines of “Why did I order that third prayer plant?” or “Why I am I making this decision?” and usually my toddler-like tenacity for questions is fulfilled by these self-revelations. I tend to only stump myself when I zoom out past my current situation and incorporate the dreaded sociatel “we”. My latest ponder has left me stumped and I’m hoping we can solve this toddler style question together. Are you ready for it?
Why do we base self-worth on productivity and how do we stop?
I firmly believe that our modern capitalist society uses wealth and worth interchangeably. Sure, we may hide this connection under the guise of hard work equating worth but the name change doesn’t make this connection any healthier. You either work hard to make more money to then feel good about yourself or you work hard under the pretense of one day getting rewarded for this work with recognition and monetary gain. We have made it shameful to not work while simultaneously making it shameful to work hard and not be rewarded with success. In summary, as a society, we have made existence transactional and by doing so we have surmised that those who do not contribute (are not productive) are not worth caring for.
Self-Worth and the Day to Day
This sociatel mentality then trickles into our day to day habits. Think about it – if you don’t feel productive during the day does it change how you feel about yourself? I know for me, and everyone who answered my Instagram survey, productivity is a key player in self worth.
Self-Worth in the Workplace
In the workplace we begin equating our self worth with our outputs. We work ourselves like machines to generate the highest value for our employers, even if we are not being rewarded fairly for this work. We begin to equate how we feel about ourselves with how well we perform.We continuously strive for that next promotion, another certification, or having the best idea in a concept meeting because we want to feel worthy of our spot in the workplace.
To make matters even worse we take this to the next step by applying these pressures to our personal lives. We use our long “to do” lists as a point of pride on social media. People are happy to drone on and on about how busy they are. Jam packed schedules are considered a sign of success and enviable. The “rise and grind” or “hustle” mentality has seeped into everything from our board meetings to our weekends at home. But is this what we were really designed to do?
Personally, I think it’s ridiculous and needs to change. So I’m channeling my inner Mr. Rodgers by starting in the only place I know how – myself. I’m spending this next year (and probably the rest of my life) untangling the web. I refuse to be defined by my outputs, my annual income (though I would love for that to go up), and how productive I am. Don’t worry mom, I’m not quitting my job, or slacking on my projects, I’m just being conscious about how I find value in my life. I’m placing my self worth in being my authentic self for 2020 – ready for the journey with me?
*I am not a therapist. Please work with a licensed physician when it comes to your health.