Process oriented vs outcome oriented

“So often we judge ourselves by our outcomes,” are the last words my therapist offered me as a food for thought before we ended our conversation today.

My therapist and I were talking about how just because a decision you made turned sour or caused trouble, its outcome is not a reflection on your character. 

The outcomes of your decisions aren’t a reflection on your character or an assessment of your worth.

I’ve been thinking about outcomes a lot lately and so often we measure our success, our quality of life, or our strength through outcomes. What we go through can’t always be quantified. What we believe can come of us can’t always be measured.  Sometimes they’re just experiences that are felt and things we are survived by. Growth comes through processes, not through end points.

It’s a bit easier to lean on accomplishments or wealth to measure success because our society is so conditioned to think of our worth and value through outcomes. I would push to challenge you to think about your proudest moments. What values are those memories rooted in?

When it comes to the existential crises of wondering whether or not we are a good human, how do you measure that? Is it through your inherent value of self and perception of worth? Is it through what you’ve done? Is it through the quality of your relationships? How do you measure whether or not you are “good”?

What if you’re as good as you are and that’s enough?

I used to seek a lot of external validation from others, wanting them to verify that my self assessment of my worth and value was accurate. I wanted to know I was being a good human through the lens of others. Sometimes I measure my worth through my acts of service, but I think in this whole reflection it’s important to remember that we cannot be watered down into one simple objective or way of being in order to understand ourselves.

As humans, we can measure our quality of life through our relationships, mental health, physical fitness, dietary habits, accomplishments, milestones, or for how people write about us or talk about us.

Except, what I think I’ve come to realize is that no matter how we value ourselves and our lives, it requires our agreement upon these things to make them real.

For example, think about a memorable compliment you’ve received. Why did it resonate with you? It could’ve just been considered a remark or comment made by someone, but somehow you attributed it to a word of affirmation that validated something in you that struck a chord. Words are only made true if you believe them. You only understand yourself as valuable once you believe it. And even if you are still in the process of learning to hold love for yourself, you are still valuable in the challenge of believing this.

You can put a whole list of things to measure yourself or justify it, but I believe true value of self comes from understanding your inherent and irreplaceable worth as a creature of this life. And that, my friend, is something that cannot be changed.

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