Self Worth vs. Net Worth

Divorce is a time when many things are slipping away from you that are beyond your control. It’s all too easy to slip into depression as your sense of self-worth follows your net-worth down the drain. It’s important at times like this to separate the two – and remind yourself that your self worth must not be tied to your net worth.

Seems obvious, but during times of major upheaval in your life it’s easy to forget the difference between the two. A refresher:

Net-worth: Your assets minus your debts.

Self-worth: Your sense of value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self-respect.

The first one (net worth) is simple math and easy to calculate – and horrible to watch during a divorce. Your bank accounts are draining, your assets (including the roof over your head) may be going away, and you may even be racking up debt as your attorney bills skyrocket and the costs of setting up a new place to live start adding to your credit card balance. Whether you were content with your net worth prior to the divorce or not, odds are it’s changing now – and usually not in a good way. Whatever financial trend line you were on before? Once divorce finishes with you, that line has changed direction – perhaps temporarily, perhaps not.

The second one (self worth) is likely taking a similar beating, from multiple fronts. And this one is much harder to calculate because there’s no math involved. You may have (mistakenly) defined your self worth as a combination of factors that are now changing – your title as “spouse” is now gone. Your title as “parent” is now changing. Your title as “homeowner” may be over also. And you may have made the common mistake of using “money” as a metric of your own self worth. Now that the money has gone away, your self worth has plummeted.


Wait, what?


Screw that.



However you define your self worth, it’s GOT to be based on factors that have nothing to do with the “crap” around you – the physical “stuff” like money, things, titles, career, etc. – those are all just things that humans arbitrarily assign value to. And you’re human, so forgive yourself if you’ve fallen into this trap also. But your self worth has got to be based on the things that YOU can control – the things YOU do on this planet to make it a better place for yourself, and for those around you. Don’t define yourself by the “things” you’ve collected in your life. Take a cue from Tyler Durden – played by actor Brad Pitt, who has his own firsthand experiences with divorce:


Wisdom comes from strange places sometimes. (Thank you Mr. Durden!)

So as you navigate your divorce, and the shifting changes in your net worth – don’t forget to focus on the things you use to define your self worth. Now more than ever, you need to be the one in charge of what you use to “pump yourself back up” and build up your confidence again. Maybe you relied on money as a source of “self inflation” before? Now’s the time to recognize the error of your ways. You can rebuild your pile of money if you choose to pursue that path, but look for other things to refill your self confidence this time around. Money isn’t what matters, and your net worth is independent of your self worth.

refill yourself

1 comment

  1. I feel like at times self-confidence is a self fulfilling prophecy. If you are down in the dumps I feel like it’s hard to pull out of the spiral. When things are going well I feel like it’s easier to let things slide off of you. Great post!!!

Leave a Reply