They tell me I’m useless, that I don’t do anything well… (JORGE BUCAY)

They tell me I’m useless, that I don’t do anything well… (JORGE BUCAY)

We had been talking about the need for recognition and affirmation from others, and Jorge had been explaining Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of necessities. We all need the respect and esteem of those around us to be able to create our own self-esteem.  Around that time, I was complaining because my parents never really accepted me, because my friends didn’t really like me, and because my efforts at work went without recognition. When – There’s an old story – said The Fat Man as he handed me some maté leaves and a cup of steaming water – about a young man who went to see an old wise man for help.  His problem reminds me of yours.

There’s an old story about a young man who went to see an old wise man for help.
I’m here, sir, because I feel so small that I have no desire to do anything.  They tell me I’m useless, that I don’t do anything well, and that I’m lazy and stupid.  How can I improve myself? What can I do to get better?
Without looking at him, the wise man said:
– I’m very sorry, young man.  I can’t help you, I must solve a problem of my own first.  Maybe then…
– And after a long pause he added – If you’d like to help me, I could solve my problem more quickly and then… maybe I can help you.
– Yyy … yes, sir. – he murmured, feeling once again degraded, his needs subordinated to those of the wise man.
– Good, then – the wise man replied.  He removed a ring from the pinkie finger of his left hand, and passing it to the young man he said – Take that horse outside and ride to the town markets.  I need to sell this ring in order to pay a debt I owe.  It’s very important that you get the best possible price, absolutely nothing less than one gold coin.  Go and come back with the money as soon as you can.
The young man took the ring and went.  As soon as he reached the markets, he started showing the ring to the merchants.  They all seemed interested until he told them the price he wanted.
When he mentioned the gold coin, some laughed, others gave him strange looks.  Only one old man was kind enough to explain to him that one gold coin was too much for the ring.  He offered him him a silver coin and a jar full of copper, but the young man rejected the offer following the instructions given to him not to accept less than one gold coin.
Having made more than 100 offers, having been rejected by every merchant in the market, he got on his horse and rode back.
He wanted desperately to have a gold coin to give to the wise man, so that the wise man could help him and advise him.
He entered the house.
– Sir -he said – I’m sorry.  You asked me to do something impossible.  Maybe I could have gotten two or three silver coins for that ring, but I just can’t trick any body into giving me more than its worth.
– The thing that you have just said is very important my young friend. – he replied with a smile – First, we’ve got to know the true value of the ring!  Get back on that horse and go to see the jewelry maker.  Who could possibly know better than he?  Tell him that you’d like to sell the ring and ask him how much he’ll give you for it.  But no matter what he offers you — do not sell the ring.  Bring it back here.
The young man got on his horse and set off.
By candlelight, the jewelry maker inspected the ring.  He used a magnifying glass and weighed it on a scale, and after a moment he said:
Tell the old man that if he needs to sell it immediately, I can’t give him more than 58 gold coins.  Got it, sprout?
– 58 gold coins?  he said in astonishment.
– Yeah. – If he has more time, he can probably find a buyer at 70 coins. Otherwise…
The young man took the ring and got up and left.  He was so excited that he galloped the horse all the way back.
– Sit down. – said the wise man, as his young page burst through the door in excitement.

He listened to the young man’s story, and then said
– You are just like this ring: a unique and valuable jewel.  The only person who can understand your true value is an expert.  Why do you go around expecting that anyone you meet on the street knows your true value.
And with this, he put the ring back on the pinkie finger of his left hand.


Let me tell you a story
Jorge Bucay



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