Why You Can’t Measure Self Worth by Net Worth

Why You Can't Measure Self Worth by Net Worth

It may seem easier to measure our worth by what we have instead of who we are. We can clearly see what is in our bank account (or not), the material possessions that surround us and the labels we wear. There is a hard and fast equation for our net worth, but that is not what makes us worthy.

Net worth is easier to measure perhaps, but completely irrelevant. Your net worth and self-worth are not related. You might think that you have low self-worth because you have low net worth, or high self-worth because of your high net worth, but research proves that is not the case.

Your net worth demonstrates

  • How much money you have.
  • How much you own.

Your net worth is a total of your assets minus your liabilities. You can’t measure self-worth on a spread sheet. You can’t boil it down to hard facts and figures because:

Your self-worth is measured by

  • How you treat people.
  • How freely you give.
  • How deeply you love.
  • The way you take care of yourself.
  • Your ability to learn and be open.
  • Your capacity for gratitude, joy and vulnerability.
  • Valuing a purposeful life or your search for it.

Brene Brown is a qualitative researcher and author who studies vulnerability and shame. In her research, she discovered that the only thing that separated a group of people who felt worthy (had high self-worth) and whole-hearted, from a group that felt unworthy, unloved, and not good enough, was that they believed they were. Just by believing that they were worthy of love and connection, they had love and connection.

You can’t buy self-worth and you can’t measure it by what is in your bank account. You can only believe in it and be a beautiful example of it through gratitude for your love and connection and by giving away love and connection. When you give away love and connection, you won’t have less of it. Instead, it will multiply exponentially.

If there is any doubt in your mind, let me help. You are worthy of love and connection. You deserve it and it’s yours if you want it. Believe it.

The difference between self-worth and net worth is love. Net worth is completely absent of love and self-worth is created by love. You will never measure up when comparing net worth. In fact, you will always fall short. There will always be someone who has more, earns more, saves more and has bigger numbers in the final column on the spread sheet.

Net worth shrinks when you give, and when it comes to self-worth, it only grows as you give. Our capacity for loving people, animals and the world can’t be put in a box or on a spreadsheet. It can’t be measured. It can’t be contained.

Our cups runneth over.



    • Courtney Carver says

      Dan, It’s easy to do when you are caught up in the work-spend lifestyle. Sometimes life seems driven by money and that is where our focus goes.

  1. says

    Having downsized from a huge home to a small “box in the sky” I learned this was true. Why worry about what others will think of the “brand” of car you drive, how much money you have etc. With the downsizing, de-cluttering and simplifying we have done – we are now able to plan and actually GO on a trip to sail around the med. Living on a 40 foot sailboat we be possible now, because we no longer have all that net worth to worry about. Self-worth propels you to “doing” not just talking.

    Yes, we are taking our dog with us because we love him.

    All that to say – the self-worth list above touches on all our reasons for downsizing and traveling instead of accumulating “stuff”.

  2. says

    What a great message. Before my father’s death, I saw a similar transformation in him. He had gone from a high-powered lawyer with lots of toys and money and prestige to a high school history teacher in a rented apartment, but his life was so much better after that career change. He was able to help people before they got in trouble instead of after. He was loved and held in high esteem by students and fellow teachers, and he was happier with his life.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Sarah, Your dad’s story is inspiring and a perfect demonstration of living a life of purpose. Also shows that it’s never to late to change and your past doesn’t have to dictate your future. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. says

    Sittin’ on the germ tube headed across country reading Mark Sanborn’s fabulous book “The Fred Factor.” It speaks directly to this point from the perspective of how being your own superstar makes you a superstar. Oh, and it tends to have positive effects on others too!

  4. says

    I had a great teacher, my grandfather. He had a wonderful teacher in his mother. His mother’s father had built a good number of the homes in my hometown, he left them equally to his two daughters when he passed away. My Great-grandmother when seeing the fears of her renters during the Great Depression signed over the deeds to each house in her possession to the renters. After that my grandfather grew up in poverty. His mother provided as best she could, feeding them well with her home garden (which back then they were allowed to have chickens in the city, so she did). Her sister, disowned her because she believed giving those houses away was wrong and was more concerned with her net worth. My grandfather called his mother a saint, and tried to emulate her. He didn’t care what others thought of him, he lived by the values he saw and ended up a well respected individual in his community.

    • Courtney Carver says

      A beautiful story Lois, and it’s clear even from the few interactions that we’ve had that your grandfather had a big impact on you. xo

  5. says

    Courtney, Love your site and this post! But this seems so self-evident. As if it need not be stated, though I am glad you did. I guess that’s because, even though so many of us demonstrate that we measure our worth by our belongings, nearly all of us will pay lipservice to measuring by who we are.

  6. says

    This is a wonderful post, Courtney. Really, really wonderful.

    As an Australian, it’s in our national psyche to feel uncomfortable saying, “I’m worthy. I’m loveable. I’m enough.” we tend to cut people down who possess self-esteem that’s too high. One of our downfalls is the tall poppy syndrome, where anyone who succeeds and isn’t self-deprecating needs to be cut down to size.

    But I love the reminder here that the difference between having self worth and not is all down to choice. Really inspirational stuff. Thanks!

    And Lois, your grandfather and great-grandmother sound like incredible people. A beautiful example of being more with less. :)

  7. says

    I try not to measure by self-worth by my net-worth – but my parents make it hard for me to do that. They grew up in the traditional way – with money being paramount – they notice me not paying attention to it – and they get upset with me – calling me selfish. It is hard staying strong in the face of such adamant opposition.

    • says

      @Brown Vagabonder
      I am 42 and this situation persists for me still. However, it is no longer a problem. I do what I need to do and let them do the same. Opposition, even adamant opposition, makes no difference in my decision making. I do what I do and apologize later if an apology is warranted.

      As for “selfish”, I have adopted the word as a compliment. If making myself the best person I can be while being very pleasant about the whole business makes me selfish, then yes I am selfish.

      I hope that it becomes easier for you to cope with their attitude and for them to cope with your lifestyle. You sound like a reasonable and thoughtful person.

      • says

        I loved your commment – I have to start taking ‘selfish’ as a compliment as well! :) I love it. I have been told that no matter how ‘old’ you get, your parents will still oppose your every move. They do it out of love, they say.
        I hope as I move forward and get stronger in myself, it will get easier for me to become more and more ‘selfish’.

  8. Dee says

    What a cool post! The idea that when we give money away it is depleted from us, yet when we give Love away, we are actually filling up inside. A reality check on what is really important in life!! Thanks Courtney and Peace be with you.

  9. Deb says

    It frightens me to think that some people’s idea of downsizing means “getting rid of” their cat or dog (pets). When a human takes a pet into their home, it is a life-long committment, just as children and family are. Pets (animals that humans have domesticated and are dependent on humans for food and shelter) are not “disposable” items, and they deserve better than being dumped because of someone’s newly adopted philosophy that doesn’t include them. I believe this action goes against living a life truly dedicated to honest good. I too, strive to live as simply as possible yet care for three dogs and two cats as a part of my simple and giving life.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Deb, I have two cats and a dog and no matter how small our living space becomes, they will be along for the ride. They are part of the family. 😉

  10. Justin Dixon says

    But what about not being able to provide for yourself? I understand that I don’t need millions of dollars to be worth while, but it is difficult to reconcile the idea of being enough when I don’t even know enough to be able to live on my own, and am regularly worried about what I will eat. How would you keep low net worth from hitting your self worth?

  11. says

    Thank you so much for this post. I am trying to free myself of endless wants and your list of self worth qualities helps me have a tangible goal to reach for.


  1. […] Why You Can’t Measure Self Worth by Net Worth Courtney Carver of the Be More with Less Blog illustrates the huge difference between Net Worth and Self Worth and how they are not related at all. Studies have found that “you can’t buy self-worth and you can’t measure it by what is in your bank account.” As the article so eloquently points out: “Net worth shrinks when you give, and when it comes to self-worth, it only grows as you give.” One way to increase your Real Wealth, by giving. […]