This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim Giles explains how to separate your self-worth from your stuff.
I live in a smaller old home in an area where lots of beautiful new large homes have popped up over the last several years. I generally love where we live and the people who live here, but I hate that I feel the nagging impulse to "keep up with the Joneses." I understand it's fear-based, that I'm wanting to feel like I'm just as good as those around me. But I'm hoping you can give some helpful advice to navigate this. It's hard when my kids have friends over and I perceive they aren't having as much fun because we don't have all of the fun "stuff" that they have. I know I shouldn't care, but I do. How do I explain to my kids that we don't have what others around us have and that it's OK? How can I teach them that their own worth isn't tied to stuff?
You need to teach your children where the belief that your value is tied to your appearance, performance and property comes from, and then, how to change it.
This belief actually stems from a simple, but foundational belief about human value and how it’s determined. This is a foundational belief that impacts how you see yourself and everyone around you, and it's critical to understand. Somewhere along the way you, as a child, might have gotten the idea from your parents and watching the other big people around you that human value can change. You started to believe it could go up and you could feel better than other people, and it could go down and you could feel less than other people.
This idea that human value can change also lead you to another negative belief — that some people have more value than other people. These two beliefs are wreaking havoc in your life and with your self-esteem, and they are also responsible for most of the problems on this planet. All of the terrorism, war, racism, discrimination, and even the political divide in our country are all at their core, caused by this idea that some people have more value or are more important than other people.
This is a belief that really needs to change.
Since we all believe human value can change, we also believe you can earn more value by looking good, doing well, or having nice things. We believe that good-looking, thin, tan people have more value than other less attractive, larger people. We believe people who live in big houses, make more money, or have more success, have more value than less successful people. But understand these are not facts or truths, they are just beliefs.
Let me clarify the difference. Truths can be proven and don’t change. Beliefs are just ideas that exist in our heads — they can’t be physically proven — and we can change them whenever we want to or whenever we learn something new. It’s important to understand the difference because every day you are basing your self-esteem on flimsy, though widely held, beliefs, which are not real and are not doing you any good.
This is also a system you can't beat. As long as you choose to believe human value can change and some people have more worth than other people, you will always be afraid you aren’t good enough. No matter how hard you try to improve your appearance, performance and property, you will always find people who have more or have it better. You will never win, nor feel good about yourself using this system.
So I recommend you choose a new system for determining the worth of human beings. I recommend you choose a system or belief that serves you and humanity more and makes you feel better about yourself, too. My suggestion is you adopt the belief that all human beings have the exact same intrinsic value and that value can’t change, no matter what they do or have.
Choose to separate your value from appearance, performance and property altogether, and base human value on something that doesn’t change, like your uniqueness. Anything on this planet that is a one-of-a-kind is extremely valuable, if not priceless. You are a one-of-a-kind, original, the only YOU there will ever be. You are irreplaceable and therefore of infinite, absolute worth — just like everyone else.
When you start to see human value as unchangeable and remind yourself and your children every day that property, performance and appearance don’t mean anything about your value, you will very quickly feel better. Because you are changing a foundational belief across the board applying to everyone, you will start to internalize it and also apply it to yourself. This is the beginning of real self-esteem.
Now, in order to make this powerful change work in your family, you also have to give up judgment of other people too. Every time you or a family member start to gossip or criticize another person, remember their mistakes or faults don’t change their value. If anyone mentions the fact that other people have larger homes, better clothes or more toys, simply remind them property doesn’t determine value and those people have the same value we do.
Making this belief sink in and take hold so you really believe it just takes time and repetition. The more you talk about it, the better — but it doesn’t change the reality that there may be less to do at your house.
I would focus on making sure there is good energy, safety and love for all people when they hang out at your house. Focus on the one thing you have to give, no matter your financial position: LOVE. Be the house where everyone feels valued and important. In the end, people care more about how you make them feel than how many toys you have.
You might also want to read this previous KSL.com article I wrote about that contains a parable about self-worth and houses.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a human behavior expert, author and speaker. Learn more at www.12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com Take the Survey and find out your relationship shape today.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.