“Why am I here and what am I even worth, anyway? I’m just some random guy.”
I remember asking this to myself while the walls spun and I leaned on the sink.
I was in the bathroom of a bar in North Carolina and a bare wooden wall where a mirror had been had graffiti scrawled in black sharpie: “Trust me, you look great.”
Damn. I doubted that.
But also, who cared how I looked?
I felt like sh*t.
And it wasn’t just the drinking and the drifting from place to place…
What should you do if this is you?
Here’s what to do when you don’t know your value in this universe.
First: know that you’re not alone. Many of us have been at this difficult place and struggled with it deeply.
Secondly, don’t do what the New Age gurus and yoga teachers tell you and just “be positive” or raise your vibrations.
Trying to force yourself to be positive not only doesn’t work, it can lead to a lot of repression and hiding from your true emotions and challenges.
Instead, I want you to focus on what’s wrong.
What’s the main thing right now that’s bothering you or making you doubt or be confused about your value in the universe?
In other words:
What’s the problem?
Nothing happened to bring me to that moment in the bar bathroom. I’d had plenty of them, quite frequently.
In fact, nothing happening was the problem.
I felt like life was just passive and I was constantly having to run after things or else nothing would happen.
When would my life start?
When would I feel that I mattered?
It seemed I was always trying to get someone’s attention, but only getting the attention I didn’t want from other people who felt outcast like me.
This made me feel disempowered, unwanted and futile.
I had good times and bad times, friends and people I didn’t get along with…
But reflecting on why I felt so confused I had to acknowledge that deep down I felt low value.
I felt like an outsider, a poser, a fake.
I felt unsure what the point of my life was or how to be confident when there was so much about myself that seemed undefined, useless and directionless.
It seemed I was on a Greyhound bus to nowhere…(to quote country singer Miranda Lambert).
Five years later and I can say I know my value and my role in this universe.
But it didn’t happen by accident.
It started by identifying the problem and then working to ameliorate it and find a way to love myself and truly believe in my own value.
So let’s find out how:
Finding value inside
What is value to you?
Many things can clearly be valuable:
Time, health, money, love, sex, clothes, jewelry, homes, attention, and fame.
But the meaning of value varies quite a lot.
Let me put it this way:
If I sold you a $2,000 watch for $20, that would mean you obtained something valuable for a great price, right?
But if you’re trying to bail out a sinking boat in a storm with just a bucket, your two items of greatest value are your arms and the strength they have, not the expensive watch which just flew off into the sea…
My point is that value varies depending on context and what you prioritize.
Finding value inside is about realizing that your own basis of your value has to be within yourself and not in external things, people or valuation.
If I’m a cruel sweatshop owner then your value to me might be how many hours you can put in at the cheapest hourly rate before collapsing.
But for you that would be an abusive and horrifying experience.
If I’m a manipulative woman who’s toying with your emotions for sexual thrills, I may value you as a physical object, not caring at all for your heart or emotions, nor your life goals.
But for you that might be an experience in which you feel taken advantage of and deceived.
Here’s the point:
Never let somebody else or an external situation determine your value or purpose: you must determine your value and purpose and then stick to that and double down on that.
So how do you do that, exactly?
It’s all about love
The key to finding your value in this universe and uncovering your mission in life is all about love.
What do I mean by that?
I mean first of all self-love in a very practical and real sense.
For much of my life I assumed this was about loving other people, finding romantic love or just being a “good person.”
But the true path to love and intimacy and creating meaningful relationships is actually much different than many of us have been taught.
It’s something I learned about from the renowned Brazilian shaman Rudá Iandê.
As Rudá explains in this mind blowing free video, many of us have been socially and psychologically conditioned to search for love in a completely backwards way.
We end up in codependent connections and feeling empty inside.
Enough is never enough, but then we chase our own tail hoping one day we’ll meet the perfect person who will finally unveil our true value and role to us.
But it doesn’t happen! Or it seems to happen and then ends up being a huge disappointment when we realize somebody wasn’t who we imagined they are!
What a drag, right?
But there’s a solution to this and it starts with understanding.
Rudá lays out why love and relationships can be so confusing and how to approach them from a completely different direction so that you can find your value in this universe and in relation to other people.
I found his thoughts extremely eye-opening, to say the least.
Let’s see how far we’ve come
So we’ve identified the problem and come up with the starting point for a solution: learning to love.
For me the problem was a feeling of being disempowered and feeling rejected or unwanted.
For others the problem may be confusion, lack of career direction, an abusive relationship or a difficult health situation.
Whatever it is that’s making you doubt your worth in the universe or be confused about it, the key to unlocking it starts with love.
Start by loving yourself for real.
When you don’t know your value in this universe you need to find your own worth internally and then move on to the next step.
The next step is to pursue those people, places and opportunities which reflect back your value to you.
What this means is that you know when to fight and when to walk away.
Fighting for your dreams and knowing your value is all about finding opportunities and individuals who believe in you and can see the vision that you see.
It’s about reciprocity and respect.
As I said, you can never let anyone else define or limit your value. But you can let them confirm and share it and increase it alongside you.
For this reason, your next step is to seek out love and intimacy that is reciprocal and respectful in your personal life…
And to seek out opportunities and projects that tap into your potential and passions in your professional life…
Knowing your value versus feeling ‘confident’
When you don’t know your value in this universe, finding it within can be tough.
But there is a way to do this and to find relationships that support and value you instead of ones that tear you down.
However, as you find your value and begin to seek out people who recognize it, this does not mean life will be an easy ride.
When is it ever?
What it does mean is that you will know that the external events and letdowns (as well as big wins) of life don’t define your true inner worth.
That doesn’t change.
You will also come to see the difference between internal security and acting confident.
How you act and come across to others is one thing. It certainly matters, but it’s not the focus of a person who knows their value.
Indeed, if you look in a room the most charismatic individual is not one who’s swaggering and wearing lots of jewelry or talking with a smooth voice:
It’s the one who’s truly comfortable in their own skin and not trying to impress anyone. The person who’s not looking for attention but deals with what attention comes with grace and elegance.
When you don’t know your value…
When you don’t know your value, you look for it in many places.
All too often, what we end up getting back is a reflection of our own confusion and lack of certainty about our value and role from those around us.
That’s why there’s really no substitute to finding out your value and putting it into action.
The more you do this the more you will stop needing the outside validation or reflection that comes your way.
If people believe in you, great.
If people don’t, prove them wrong or find others who do.
Your value isn’t up for negotiation: it’s yours, and it’s yours forever.