Updated: Jan 14, 2019
So much of the suffering in the world could be avoided if people stopped using the rules of value wrong. There are three realms of value: Personal, Social and Financial. Each realm has its own rules.
The Personal Realm
In the personal realm, value is absolute. There is no point worrying about whether you are "worthy" of existence, because obviously whoever or whatever has the power and jurisdiction over existence already made the decision. You exist, therefore you have value.
If you try to apply rules from the social or financial realms to your personal value, you can give yourself unnecessary self-esteem issues! Your personal value does not depend on other people loving you or wanting you around - that's social value. It also doesn't depend on whether you have a high-paying job or a profitable business - that's the financial realm.
The Social Realm
In the social realm, participants each get to decide the value of the other participants. How your mother, father, siblings, child, friend or co-worker values you depends on how they view your relationship with them and what you provide within it.
It is a mistake to bring the "absolute" law from the personal into the social. It might be a harsh reality, but it is reality nonetheless -- nobody is inherently owed a positive value judgment by other people. It's true that most people believe in the sanctity of life and therefore don't kill one another, but murder rates show that clearly some don't.
There are many factors that go into another person's value judgment of you. While there might be an overall commitment to love and cherish (value) you "no matter what" (as in the case of a parent's love for a child and in some marriages) but in general, every incident and interchange between you and another person adds or subtracts value chips in their perception.
Each relationship and situation is essentially a negotiation of value. The sooner you recognize it and start treating it as such, the less drama, shock and upset you'll have in your life.
The Financial Realm
In the financial realm, you must provide something of value in exchange for money. Money comes to you when you provide value to a marketplace that is willing and able to pay you for it. How much you'll be paid depends on many factors including how much the result of your work is desired or needed, how difficult it is to do and how many other people can do it. (A brain surgeon makes more than an Uber driver.)
Whether you have a business, or you have employment, the rules are the same.
1) Value is determined by the buyer
2) Value judgements are made up of both tangible and intangible benefits
3) Value shifts all the time.
One mistake people make most often here are to think that they get to determine their own value (and be upset when they aren't paid accordingly). You see this in employees who feel underpaid and in service providers who feel that they are not getting paid "what they are worth."
"Worth" is completely up to the buyer. Not the seller. If you want to earn more, you have to provide more (tangibly or intangibly).
Another mistake is to think that factors from the Social Realm (such as kindness or loyalty) in and of themselves are "worth" something in the financial realm. They may or may not influence a customer or employers perception of your value and therefore may or may not increase earnings. It's best to be very clear on the fact that it is the shift in perception and not the character traits or social behaviors that shift the value. If the perception isn't shifted, neither is your value.