I run mental health therapy and psychoeducation groups at a residential treatment center for men. From time to time I’ll take a $100 dollar bill out of my wallet (no, I don’t always have one) and show it to the men. I ask, “How much is this crisp bill worth?” Someone answers, “One hundred dollars.” I then say, “Now imagine that this same bill was used to buy drugs, go to a casino, bribe a person, buy a weapon, used for prostitution, and was rolled up to snort cocaine. How much is the bill worth now?” Someone answers, “One hundred dollars.”
Where the bill has been and how it was used in the past does not change or limit its value. It is still worth the same amount. That’s the way it is for people too. Where you have been and what you have done does not make you less valuable as a person. Don’t get me wrong. There are still consequences for behavior, but someone’s worth does not decrease because of his or her actions. Even when respect, esteem, and appreciation drop, someone still has value as a human being.
Remembering the Truth
It isn’t that someone’s value drops, it’s that they begin to believe it did. The truth is you have great worth. You can contribute to others, accomplish your goals, and change the future. Your past does not determine your future. When someone believes they are damaged, inferior, inadequate and incompetent, they often act in strict accordance with that belief. Knowing the truth about your value gives you the necessary foundation to change your life.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!
Dr. Hal Baumchen