white sign with black capital letters reading "you are worthy of love" near telephone pole, green bush, and asphalt walkway

Considering Worth and Achievement

I’m going to therapy tomorrow morning. Last week, there was a moment when we were talking about my goals and I became very quiet. Something in my thoughts had made me feel emotional, but as I was enjoying having a normal conversation with my therapist, I pretended nothing happened. (Haha, nice try. I think she knew.) Now that I’ve had a week to think about it, I’m planning on bringing it up when I go to my appointment tomorrow.

Here’s the issue: there were parts of me that I had thought were stemming directly from my depression. Feeling worthless, after all, is a symptom of depression. But now that I’m feeling better, I find that I’m still thinking of myself as less valuable than other humans. Whether that’s a product of having been depressed for a while, or it was there all along, I’m not sure how to change it. Talking about my goals led me to this realization because I started thinking about the value of my accomplishments and the cost of my depression. Treatment for my depression has become expensive, and when I pondered that in therapy last week, I suddenly concluded internally: “I’m not worth that much.” Reaching my goals and accomplishing what I want to is, in my mind, the way for me to become “worth” the expense.

I don’t want to get too philosophical- that’s not my area- but I’m comfortable declaring all human life inherently valuable. Let’s exclude those variables like violent crime and abuse, and consider everyone without any actions in their past. John Locke considered the mind at birth a blank slate, which experience acts upon to form our beliefs and knowledge. This leaves us with two possible conclusions, I think. Either the “blank slate” of human life is worthless until some positive attributes or achievements earn that person value, or all people have innate value by virtue of simply existing with potential.

It’s clear to me, and to most people, I think, that human life is innately valuable. So, why am I so stumped when it comes to believing in my own value?

Sometimes, I try to trick myself by arguing that because I think I am fairly average, there is no reason that I would be special enough to be an exception to such a universal rule like “all people have value.” Then I reach some kind of does not compute error in my brain and start the whole thing over again.

Aaand this is probably the point where my therapist would tell me that I’m very cerebral and maybe should return to feeling feelings. Yeah. I get stuck in existential loops a lot.