Human Being NOT Human Doing

At the beginning of the school year, there have probably been a few $100 bills that have landed in the hands of some lucky young people! Nothing like a “Benjamin” to thrill the heart of a student as they shop for school!

 

As a therapist, the $100 bill has become one of my favorite clinical tools. Trust me, this is not about passing out $100 bills in therapy, but rather using the bill to illustrate a priceless truth regarding personal worth and value.

 

In a therapy session, these questions follow pulling a $100 bill out of my bag:

 

Question:      “What is this?”

Answer:         “Well, duh, it is a one hundred dollar bill.”

Question:      “What is it worth?”

Answer:        “A hundred dollars!”

Question:      “What if I wad it up and toss it on the floor?  Now, how much is it worth?”

Answer:        “Still a hundred dollars!”

Question:      “What if I throw it away…put it in the trash?”

Answer:        “Still a hundred dollars!”

Question:      “What if I put it in the church offering or donate it to a favorite charity?”

Answer:        “Still a hundred dollars!”

Question:     “What if I buy drugs with it?”

Answer:        “Still a hundred dollars!”

Question:      “What if I treat it with respect, cherish it, frame it and hang it on the wall?”

Answer:        “Still…a hundred dollars.”

 

I hope it is clear where this is going.

 

That $100 bill did not become worth $100 when it landed in a wallet, bank account, or someone’s hand. It had WORTH ASSIGNED to it before it was ever put on the engraving machines at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It was INTENDED in the early stages of development and prior to actual production. No matter how we spend or treat those bills, the inherent value remains the same.

 

Every person born has inherent value. We arrive as one-of-a-kind originals. If you think about it, there has never been a repeat person. There may be similar traits and behaviors, but there has never been an identical copy inside and out. Twins may look the same, but their individuality becomes obvious once they make themselves known.

 

Our experiences and behaviors may ebb and flow, but the inherent value of a person is intended and unchangeable. Remember how the $100 bill was treated at times in the illustration? Sometimes the value was ignored, overlooked, and perhaps even tossed aside with no consideration. It still did not change the value.

 

We will have a better relationship with others as we have a better relationship with ourselves.

 

There are many opportunities for our self worth or value to be challenged. Sometimes these “hits” to our value will come through others and most often we will do the devaluing. I cannot imagine a $100 bill trying to convince someone it is really not worth $100 and yet, we do this often to ourselves.

 

Here are a five ways to keep your personal value and worth intact:

 

  1. Be aware of distorted thoughts and negative self-talk.

 

  1. Practice being non judgmental of self and others. If we are aware of how many times we judge others, we are likely judging ourselves exponentially more often.

 

  1. Make the conscious choice to stay away from living in emotional extremes. Balance or the middle path is a very healthy place to aim. When we are reacting rather than responding, we are more likely to operate in the extreme. The difference is brain engagement. Reactivity is that “auto” response from the Limbic System of our brain, whereas, responding comes more from the prefrontal cortex or thought processor.

 

  1. Practice mindfulness. This practice involves staying present in the moment and not reacting from our history or in fear of future events. It can be a habit to run to the past and run to the future without thinking about what is happening right now.

 

  1. Ban making comparisons. Comparing is a futile, unreliable, and dangerous practice. Can you imagine that $100 bill crying because it is not a $20? Our culture promotes comparisons and it is a certain way to undermine personal value and worth.

 

My hope is that you never look at a “Benjamin” the same again. All people are born valuable, vulnerable, imperfect, dependent, and spontaneous. With moderation, good boundaries, strong connections, and a true view of personal worth and value, neither life nor others will rob you of this belief of value.

 

That $100 bill did not ask to be the value it is nor did you. You did not earn your value and thus you cannot “unearn” it. Your value comes because you are a human BEING not a human DOING.

 

Author:

Lila Pond MA, LPC