How Trauma Survivors Struggle With Knowing Their Worth

Knowing Your Worth


I'd like to share a parable. Although it has taken on many forms, it still signifies the same meaning - valuing your worth.

A dying father called his son to his bedside and presented him with an old pocket watch.

The father said, “Your grandfather gave this watch to me. It is over 200 years old. Before I give it to you, I want you to go to the watch shop and tell the owner you want to sell it. Ask him what price he would pay for it.”

The son went to the watch shop and then returned to his father’s bedside. He reported, “The watchmaker said he would pay $10 for the watch because it is old and scratched.”

The father then said to the son, “Go to the coffee shop and ask the owner if he would be interested in buying the pocket watch and what he would be willing to pay.”

The son ran to the coffee shop and quickly returned. He told his father, “The coffee shop owner said he didn’t have much use for an old pocket watch but offered $5 for it.”

Finally, the father told the son, “Go to the museum and show them the watch.”

The son went to the museum and returned with a look of astonishment on his face. He whispered, “Father, the curator at the museum said he'd pay $1 million for this pocket watch!”


The father laid his head back, closed his eyes and said: “I wanted you to experience for yourself that the right place, and the right people, will value you in the right way. Never put yourself in the wrong place, with the wrong people, and then get angry when you don’t feel valued. Don’t stay in a place, or with people, that don’t value you. Know your worth and while being confident in your own value look for the value and the potential worth of others.”


However, and especially for childhood sexual trauma survivors, this wise parable is not easily implemented. A child of sexual trauma does not recognize their worth. When a child's brain structure and function has significantly changed during their developmental years due to chronic and cumulative abuse, a meaningful parable will not support these adult survivors.

Although the transfer of words of wisdom is very heartfelt and meaningful, an adult survivor of chronic childhood abuse, has difficulty in recognizing their worth. In their mind, they can understand this wisdom; in their heart and body, they cannot take it on. An adult survivor of chronic childhood abuse is separated from their sense of self. They are disconnected from who they are at the core of their being. This is what most healers do not recognize or understand.


Trauma survivors (e.g., PTSD and C-PTSD) are a unique population and their healing must be treated as such. They must first address their pain and body (somatic) experiences to understand where they are at and learn to release. Understanding allows for this release. Applying positivism and wise quotes (although heartfelt, meaningful, and true in many ways for many people) does not work in the "long-term." A short-term quick-fix supports brief success, but to get to the core of worthlessness, one must go deep into the healing process.  

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