Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Worth of Tools

This is not an easy post for me to write.  What I'm going to write about myself has me feeling very exposed and vulnerable, even before I write it.  I plan on sharing something that is very personal; something that perhaps hits right at the core of the beliefs that I have about myself, other people, and Heavenly Father.

I was having a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago and he referred to himself as being a 'tool'.  My first impulse was to deny the fact that he was a 'tool', and then I realized that I really didn't know what the word meant.  I decided to do an internet search that gave me some enlightenment.  Based on Urban Dictionary, a 'tool' is a person who can't think or make decisions for themselves, a person who is used by other people (knowingly or not), a person who relies on the judgement and approval of others, a person that is wanted solely for what they can do (rather than being liked), etc.  After another discussion with another friend, the idea really solidified in my head.

I came to two very scary realizations: I have a tendency to use other people, and the tendency to let other people use me.  Even with those realizations, I had no idea why I engaged in that kind of thinking or behavior (most of the 'using' was in my head and didn't go much further).  

Yesterday, I had another insight that hit my like stray asteroid: my sense of self worth is tied to what I can do.  I can remember countless times being among groups of people and feeling useless because we weren't 'doing' anything.  I was simply sitting there, possibly talking.  In other situations, I've felt like I've showed up, done some kind of work/chore, and then felt like I should leave because my value in the situation was gone because I didn't have anything further to do.  On the flip side, I've felt guilty in some friendships because the other person seems to be 'doing' so much and contributing so much, and I don't feel like I'm giving anything back.  Sometimes I feel like I interact with people simply for what they can do to me.  It honestly makes me feel sick inside.

What is the worth of a tool?  A tool is useful so long as it can do something useful.  If a tool becomes broken, then it is discarded and another is procured to take its place.  There isn't any use to keeping around a broken tool, unless it can be fixed.

This post seems to be in stark contrast with another recent post of mine where I spoke about the worth of a soul (Paradoxes).  It's honestly makes me feel saddened, angry, and sick that I've been thinking like this.  I've been thinking like this for years so it will be something for me to keep an eye on.  

I remember hearing a statement like the following: "We are commanded to love people and use objects.  Problems occur when that gets reversed and we love objects and use people".  I honestly feel like I am very guilty of doing the latter over the former.  I wonder, how different would life be if I had a more accurate view of my worth?  What if I thought my worth could never change?  I would probably take more risks.  I would stand up for myself and say 'no' to people that would want to use me.  I would also be more loving and giving to other people.  I would see other people as people.  I would see that other people have the same great worth that I do.

Right now, I would like to adopt some better views and thoughts about myself, and I know they will spread to other people given enough time.  I want to give myself some more positive 'self-talk':
  • I am of great worth
  • I am worthy of love and connection
  • My worth is constant and unchangeable
I honestly feel that those things are true.  It's when I forget their truth that my tendency to 'use and be used' starts to come across.

Thank you for reading.


  1. so. when people refer to tools they are usually using the meaning synonymous with douchebag or asshat.

    like conforming to their perceived societal norms despite those ideals being stupid/can't form their own opinions because of limited brain function? if you could apply the word meathead to them, tool is interchangeable.

  2. Thank you for this... it made me think very deeply. I'm proud of you also--it's hard to break out of mindsets, and in this case society both lifts up and condemns this kind of behaviour. People hate 'tools' so much because they fear that they themselves will one day become no longer useful and will be seen for what they are-- a useless tool, to be cast out. it's the "i don't have to run faster than the bear, just faster than YOU" principle. they are both in fact tools. when you realize your own value, you are completely removed from the rat race of valuation altogether. There's no more comparison because you have affirmed your value as a fixed state-- VALUABLE. the end. no more argument necessary.
    <3 good luck on your journey.

  3. If I may offer a slightly different perspective, what about being a tool (or in the words of the scriptures an instrument) in the Lord's hands? This BYU-Hawaii devotional talk Becoming an Instrument seems to sum it up nicely.