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Some things cannot be lost

“Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.” 

These are musings of Arthur Schopenhauer, a famous 19th century philosopher known particularly for his pessimism, published in Parerga and Paralipomena, a collection of philosophical reflections.

“Mostly” is an important qualifier.

A job.

A pet. 

A loved one. 

A relationship. 

A favourite toy. 

A treasured piece of jewellery. 

These are things for which, when lost, we will surely be reminded of their true worth.

But some things cannot be lost. 

As such, how can we know what they are worth? The words of Alice Miller, the much celebrated Swiss psychoanalyst, ring true:

“…the human soul is virtually indestructible, and its ability to rise from the ashes remains as long as the body draws breath.”

(I can highly recommend her book, ‘The Drama of the Gifted Child’.)

So how then, do we know the worth of the soul?

It’s a pretty important question, I’d assert, because so many of the people I work with in my coaching practice encounter feelings and limitations connected to a lowered sense of worth, even if that wasn’t the original “symptom” they presented with when starting their intensified personal development pursuit with me. 

The worth of the soul, Who We (really) Are in an enduring sense, is unchanging. 

It is only our perception of it that changes throughout our lives, impacted by many factors. From how we were raised, our formative experiences, trauma or significant life events, chronic or prolonged stress, and other such forces. So, if we are to seek to understand our worth, what we are working on here really is a mission of seeking a deeper truth about ourselves, about life. To not be swayed by the lies that we encounter… many of which arise in our own minds, I might add. 

We must remove the LI(E) in what we are OB-LI-VIOUS to, to arrive at the OBVIOUS: our worth is inherent. 

We must stare into the face of the shadow lurking behind this idea of “worth”: fear. 

But in my opinion, we need not get rid of our fear.

You might ponder, ‘is it okay to use fear (of loss) as a motivator?’ Some might disagree, but my answer is yes. In The Dark Night Rises, Bruce Wayne’s prison companion offers us a profound statement of wisdom as he encourages the hero to attempt the impossible:

“Survival is the spirit. The soul.”

Irrespective of you Batman fan status, this clip is poignant, and can be applied to many aspects of our lives. It need not be so dramatic in your own context, but maybe this strikes a chord:  

Back to our original question… how do we know the worth of the soul?

Is it not worth everything? Nothing? Is it neutral? Is “worth” even a sense-making concept when it comes to how we value Who We Are? Personally, I decided that this idea of questioning my worth is repetitive and tiresome and crazy-making. So instead, I choose, as often as I can, to turn outward. 

~ How deeply can I LOVE, in spite of fearing that I may lose the object of it? 

~ How GRATEFUL can I be, knowing that nothing is forever? 

~ How TRUTHFULLY can I show up, in the face of the inevitable rejection that comes with the reality that it is impossible to be liked by everyone?

I believe such choices (which are really acts), made repetitively, fortify the soul. They somehow add to the ineffable. For that reason, I don’t think these things can be lost, either. And these acts do not require that we do not have fear. Rather, that we overcome it. 

Much self-compassion is essential on this path. It’s a bumpy one. 

But so “worth” it.

I appreciate you reading this far. It was a curly one today, so take what you need and leave the rest. 


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