An essay by Brian McLaughlin, Advocate

Self Worth

Defining self worth is vital for a person in recovery. Sadly the world far too often makes this a mighty struggle. It does so by narrowly and wrongly defining the value or worth of a person and these narrow definitions are often accepted without thought, reflection, or question by self and others.

Having no, or low, self worth is dangerous. It can open a person to abuse perpetrated both by others and by oneself.

People, including those in recovery like myself, too often expend a huge amount of energy creating the appearance of success as defined by the world and people other than themselves.

The world often defines a person’s worth in accordance with what a person does. For example, a person who works for a huge pay check is assigned a value greater than a person who volunteers or works for a modest wage. Similarly, a person who has more possessions is often assigned a self worth greater than a person who has few and more humble possessions. This kind of materialistic value system is too often internalized by individuals. Beyond the status/worth bestowed by a person’s activity and possessions, is that given to what is seen as greater achievements. Achievements are judged to be great or small without regard to the degree of personal effort. For example, I have put great effort into recovery and less effort in obtaining a post graduate degree. Yet the world sees the degree as the greater accomplishment.

I have no delusions that this essay will change the world’s way of defining the worth of a person. However those in recovery, like myself, can choose to reject the world’s view of worth and, in doing so, reclaim and redefine their own self worth.

Respectfully submitted for your consideration,

Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS/CPS
MH Consumer Advocate
Erie County, PA.

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