Bartering for Self-Worth

Let’s start this blog trek with a big one.

Have you ever found yourself dreaming of a much simpler life? Maybe it’s the 50-something in me whose mind, body, and soul is simply fed up with this cultural insanity of competitiveness over cooperation. Or maybe it’s because I’ve experienced having a nice house and material things only to feel the emptiness of it all.

Then the flip-side happened. Between 2009 and 2014 after a series of lay-offs and company closures, I was paying my rent on credit cards, just to keep a roof over my children’s heads.

Life now has balanced out a bit from those extremes, yet something precious and profound has remained.


Recently, a dear friend and I were having another lively conversation when the subject of bartering came up. We were fantasizing about how simple, peaceful, and empowering it would be to live in a community where we all knew and cared for each other and where bartering for goods and services was the only currency.

And of course, there would be a huge community garden where everyone did their part in keeping it healthy and bountiful. Cooperation, connection, belonging, self-reliance.

Peace on earth. Simplicity.

Then the conversation got more real and less peaceful. Our beautiful flow got stuck in an age-old knot.

Value determination.

Hot anger starts to slowly course through my veins. I start to rant.

Have you ever really objectively noticed what our culture truly values? I have, and I know that our upside-down value system is why this country and humanity as a whole are in big trouble.

All you have to do is look at who makes ridiculous amounts of money and compare them with those who barely make ends meet. We all value where we put our attention, and in this competitive capitalistic society, attention equals money.

Compare salaries within professional athletics to those within professional care-giving. Compare the net worth of those within the entertainment industry to that of educators, firefighters, and police officers. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

If we put our money where our lip service is, our entire society would be so positively transformed it would be unrecognizable.

I know I was preaching to the choir with my friend. But something bruised and raw within me most definitely triggered that rant. I’ve become quite an expert in this inner excavation stuff, and the core wound was recognized right away.

If I were to barter my services, I would be bartering for my self-worth.

Ouch. The arrow pierced directly into the core of my deepest, most painful emotional wound: I don’t matter. I’m not worthy. How much am I really worth in a barter exchange?

But the singular, most important questions is: “Who is the ‘I’ that is asking for its worth?”

That’s a big one – the biggest one. We’ll circle back around to that mindblower after I finish my rant on the insidious lie that the vast majority of us have been hard-wired to believe. The lie that our existence is only as valuable as what we do and have, not who we are.

This is the lie that is a constantly running program telling us that we will never ever be enough.

I do know that’s bullshit, and I hope you do, too. But even with all our deep inner healing, it doesn’t mean the emotional wounds disappear. On the contrary, I now understand that ALL parts of me are worthy and deserving of love, compassion, and acceptance – not just the parts that our conditioning deems “good” and “agreeable”.

It is vitally important to integrate all parts of us, without judgement or conditions. Don’t push away or down the likes of anger, envy, and pride. To discard these so-called negative parts of us is to discard our worthiness, our innate human value of perfect imperfection.

Okay, I think this new blog trek is off to a passionate start. Just so you know, that’s how I roll. I’m all about relentlessly being raw and going deep within for the answers we seek. If you are wanting or at least willing to go there with me, I am always right here with you.

So…Who is the “I” that is asking for its worth?

Rant on.   Go deep.   Be still.