why treating yourself as a commodity is a great disservice (part 1)

Human beings are not commodities.

And yet, the way that you’ve learned to think, write, and treat yourself and others professionally is in the terms of commoditization.

And what is a commodity exactly? (Just so we’re on the same page)

A commodity is something that exists to satisfy needs.

The problem with this perspective is that you and other human beings are a “someone” and not a “something.” And that “someone” also has wants and needs that need satisfying.

But if you regard yourself as a commodity and talk and think and write about yourself as a commodity, you will try to hide or minimize your needs. In fact you will resent having them and anybody else that does too (even though that’s everyone).

You do this for the sake of survival and to feel safe.

But when you treat yourself as a commodity and see everyone as an expense line item, that’s what you think is normal.

This realization warrants stopping for a moment to regard where this cycle of treating yourself as a commodity comes from – why this reasoning isn’t reasonable in practice.

Regarding yourself and/or others as a commodity has its roots in childhood (yes, we’re going there) where you might have felt like an expense or a burden or an inconvenience or “more trouble than you were worth.” On occasion. Sometimes. All the time.

So did you ever get treated this way? (And before you deny, honestly who hasn’t?)

Of course you have.

(Sadly when we adult humans feel incompetent or incapable of dealing with a situation, we go around blaming whoever is deemed the least powerful and assigning them the post power in order to feel different than we do in an attempt to discharge the pain and discomfort we are experiencing. It’s the most unconscious thing we do.)

Your existence, role, and beingness as a child within the context of your family of origin did combat with the day-to-day rituals that were centred around surviving or “just getting through” the day.

This is the environment that we grow up in, but have we ever stopped to consider what we learned from that environment?

Well, you’re going to do that right now –


Respond to the following questions in as many pages as you need to in a journal. Take your time. This is preparation that will ease the resume writing process when we get there. Without this step, trying to write new content is sabotaged by your core belief system that is intended to protect your notions of safety and survival from childhood. Your present (and future) self are then always contradicted by your past self which takes precedence automatically without awareness:

:: How do you think your experience in the early part of your life shaped you in how you decided what to do for work? What do you think the influence of this experience was? Guess if you don’t know for sure.

:: You saw what your parents or caregivers did for work, but write about how they thought about their work. Guess if you don’t know for sure. Try to remember the clues that would reveal such information to you – e.g. weekend habits, the kinds of things they said after coming home from work, how they smelled, their mood after walking through the door most often, how their morning departure for work looked and/or felt to you, whether talking about work was communal or private, how your life interacted with their work and how you remember feeling about that, etc.

To write honestly, you may need to take yourself back mentally and emotionally to what you saw your parents or caregivers relate and relay to you about their work. Do you remember negativity or positivity coming from them?

Take whatever memories come to mind whether it was a conversation at the dinner table or what you overheard in a phone conversation or what you saw lying around the house that was work related for them.

:: What did you notice about how your parents or caregivers treated themselves? For example, what did they expect of themselves outside of work? How did you hear them talk about themselves in relation to their work? What did they or didn’t they do to take care of themselves and you? Write down anything else that comes to you at this time.

:: How were you treated and viewed as a child by your parents or caregivers? In other words, how were children thought of by your parents or caregivers? For example, did you feel like you deserved financial and emotional support or were those things that you needed to “earn” somehow?

:: What did you learn you had to do to be useful in this world from your parents or caregivers?

:: What definition of “work” do you put into practice each day? If you looked in the dictionary and found the word “work” – how would you define it as you do it yourself?

:: What did you do so that you wouldn’t feel like an expense, a burden, an inconvenience or to avoid feeling like you were “more trouble than you’re worth” to your parents or caregivers?

:: How does what you wrote about above and explored so far relate to how you decided on what to do for work and how you approach your work?


Basically, what I’m asking you to witness and acknowledge is that you inherited an approach to work that isn’t necessarily all your own. You might be angry, sad, disappointed, or even enlightened by your realizations. There was no single expected reaction here. This exploration was intended to understand the territory you’re starting from and can easily explain why sitting down to do your resume feels as it does and why going to work as you do is experienced as it is.

In fact, I would say that your “work approach” inheritance came from well-meaning generation upon generation upon generation making it highly likely that your approach might be just a little out of date because it’s rooted in a time when we had no social system – zero, nothing, nada.

And people were coming here from all over the world creating “the new world.”

I’m thinking that your family’s approach was likely developed and solidified during the industrial revolution or shortly thereafter and, for whatever reason, combined with some religious perspectives – because even if your immediate family isn’t remotely religious now, chances are that somebody was an influential and devout something-or-other at some point in your family tree (You’ve heard of the “Protestant work ethic” for example).

Do not underestimate the legacy of your lineage and the context of their times and passing on the belief that those times can be reinstated in an instant, making social systems only an option for certain people that don’t live “properly.”

(I’ve come to understand that “properly” means “like me” or “like us.” Would you agree?)

When you feel into the feelings of what you’ve revealed about this legacy of how to approach work, you’ll notice this:

You bring an unconscious heritage to your resume and everything else associated with how you work.

But stop and think about this in the context of present day reality for a moment:

You can’t possibly live your darkest fear because look at the country you live in and look at your personal history. Even if things have been bad, you know how to find work even if you don’t like the work that you do. You have a history of tending to your own survival needs and because of this you probably won’t let your worst fear happen to you.

My rule is this: If you’re going to have fears at least be realistic about them and what they are. What’s really likely to happen and what is your plan z?

You also live in a nation with job vacancies – so that means that there is another job out there for you if you want it. There is a social welfare system should you need it (shame or no shame). You probably have a stash of savings even if it’s for retirement one day. And perhaps you have parents or grandparents that might be willing to offer you a sanctuary if your survival or safety needs are dire. And even if you don’t, there are people – friends and friends-to-be that want to and will help you out if you ever really needed it.

But until you believe any of this for yourself, you will fear the worst and approach work as dictated by your family’s legacy no matter how secure your life really is. You perceive your life as insecure even though it is quite secure. I mean, imagine how your life looks to someone who is starving and homeless or to someone trying to live in a war zone where help for them is limited or non-existent. I’m sharing this not for comparison, but rather for perspective.

And in the worst of the worst case scenarios, global help would be on the way and you would be one of millions affected.

Chances are though, that the worst work-related things have come to pass. Because it’s after that that people find me or come upon me and what I do. Before now it just wasn’t time. You didn’t think there was better for you and now you just want better for yourself.

Your real issue is not that you don’t have financial refuge when you need it – though this is the surface fear, the issue that turns up on the resume is that in our modern climate of work with survival already provided for, what you are looking for is an emotional and spiritual refuge doing work of meaning to you. That’s how wealthy you really are.

Part two will discuss the emotional side of the tale of commoditization, but in the meantime, here are a couple more questions for you to gain insight to prepare you for resume writing in your journal:

:: Given that you know, based on your work history, that you can and have successfully provided for your survival needs, what kind of relationship would you like to have to providing for your survival and safety needs? What other possibilities exist? Does it have to be a burden? Can it possibly be lighter, easier or more fun? How? What is the real incentive to have it be different now for you?

:: What feelings do you experience when you consider changing your relationship to how you feel about taking care of your survival and safety needs? Take note that we’re not talking about changing what you do for work right now, just changing the relationship to how you work – even if it’s your existing job. Does it feel threatening or scary? If ‘yes’, consider responding to why. What do you think will happen to you if the reason you gave yourself for working was based in pleasure, feeling pleasantly useful or feeling joy rather than pure pain, obligation or duty?

Hear yourself out. This is your unconscious heritage.

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