The value of our values

By Melissa Martin

What determines your value? The amount in your bank account. The square footage of your home. The quality of jewelry on your fingers. Gold fillings in your teeth. The college degree certifications hanging on your wall. Deeds to real estate. Your job title or career. Power, prestige, and position. Fame and fortune.

Do you measure your self-worth by numbers on a scale? Smooth skin. Firmness of body parts. Body weight, shape, and size. Straight teeth.

Are you an extreme people-pleaser and you only value yourself in relation to others? Or your social media followers? Do you constantly compare yourself to others?

“When you know who you are — and you’re pleased with the person you’ve become — you’ll experience a sense of peace through life’s inevitable ups and downs. You’ll believe in yourself regardless of whether you’ve been fired, gone through a divorce, or failed to get a promotion,” says a 2017 article in Psychology Today.

Can you express your top 5 to 10 values that are most important to you? Younger people may say, “Friends, fun, and adventure.” Teens may say, “Being popular.” Others may say, “Religion, career, travel.” Some may say, “Kindness, compassion, social justice, equality, and service.” Others may say, “Truth, honesty, humility, knowledge, wisdom, harmony.” Some may say, “Gold, silver, and diamonds.”

What are your top 2 values? Older people may say, “Health and wealth.” Many may say, “Family and friends.” Others may say, “Freedom and liberty.” Some may say, “Morality and ethics.” Many may say, “Technology and computers.”

“So many people for so many years have promoted technology as the answer to everything. The economy wasn’t growing: technology. Poor people: technology. Illness: technology. As if, somehow, technology in and of itself would be a solution. Yet machine values are not always human values,” stated Ellen Ullman.

What is your top value? What is the important thing in your life? Parents may say, “Children.” Actors may say, “An Academy Award.” Doctors may say, “Finding a cure for cancer.” Spiritual people may say, “God or higher power or inner peace.” Others may say, “Civil rights.” Librarians may say, “Books.” Teachers may say, “Character.” Artists may say, “Creativity.” Football coaches and players may say, “Winning.”

What values are essential to your daily life? Do you believe your values are consistent with who you are? How do you prioritize your multiple values?

“It’s easy to get caught up in chasing money, status, and popularity—especially when these things are highly valued by those around us and by society in general—but make an effort to take a step back and think about what truly matters when determining people’s worth: their kindness, compassion, empathy, respect for others, and how well they treat those around them,” surmises an article on the Positive Psychology website. Do you agree or disagree?

Do you allow your partner or marriage to determine your value or self-worth? “Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your partner’s love is what makes you worthy of love. If anything ever happens to your partner or to your relationship, you don’t want to be forced to build up your sense of worth from scratch. It can make breakups and grief much harder than they need to be.”

Is self-love and self-respect on the list of things you value? All humans are a work in progress. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have parts that want or need to make changes. Do you value yourself even with your flaws and imperfections? We all make mistakes.

Ask yourself the following difficult questions: What if everything I have was suddenly taken away? What if all I had left was myself? Do you believe you would still have value and worth as a person? The religious crowd may say, “I still have God and my faith.”

In my opinion, every human being has worth and value because we are all created in the image of God. However, a controversy ensures because there is evil in the world and people can commit evil and vile crimes.

The purpose of this column was to promote critical thinking, self-exploration, and conversation.

“I never wanted to be on any billionaires list. I never define myself by net worth. I always try to define myself by my values.”—Howard Schultz

By Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County.

She can be reached at

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County.

She can be reached at