We are constantly evaluating and being evaluated. Grades, applications, audits, performance indicators, reviews, evaluations, assessments, appraisals, exams, measures.
And those are the external evaluations.
We also have the constant litany of internals comparisons: Is he/she more/less successful/smart/thin/interesting/accomplished/talented/wealthy/attractive/likable/famous/stylish/better/lovable than me? Sometimes those comparisons and assessments come from others, often giving credence to our worst fears or best hopes. Sometimes we cannot even hear the value/praise or suggestions/concerns from others because our internal script is so much louder and more definitive.
Who determines our value?
It’s easy to say that we determine our own value, yet the affirmation or criticism of others often carries consequences. Even if our livelihood does not depend on that evaluation, we may attach psychological value to those opinions as if each acquaintance or loved one is literally St. Peter.
I’m not even sure it’s correct to say that we determine our own value. We all have blind spots, biases and unspoken fears which all impede our ability to make an accurate judgment of what is the epitome of “too close for objectivity.”
If the judge is not ourselves, and not others, when who?
To me, the question is moot. Our value as humans, both individually and collectively, is beyond judgment. It’s analogous to asking what is the value of a rock? One rock may not have much value, but where would we be with no rocks? Our existence is tied to that rock, to the water, the air, the mosquito and to each other. We each bring a light to the world that is precious and common at the same time. Like the rock, we are each essential and yet dispensable. We don’t have to attach value to that. We just are.
Similarly, who am I to judge someone else? I don’t need to feel better than someone else to feel good about myself. My light and connection is not affected by how successful or talented someone else is. Yet I dim my light when I engage in jealousy, spitefulness, or contempt, so I’m only hurting myself.
I am not above such feelings, however. To be human means a constant struggle with our fears and the monologue in our head that feeds the fear. Love, gratitude, connection and forgiveness are the enemy of fear and feeds our light. And that is what I value.