In the great O.C., it is not uncommon for people to value their personal worth based on their financial worth. It seems as though many of us leap to the conclusion that if we acquire more money that we will become ‘better’ people. Sometimes we see ourselves as inadequate or as failures unless they we have what we want. However this is wrong for a number of reasons:
Judging yourself by your financial status is like judging a book by its cover. In effect you are judging your entire self by only one aspect of yourself. It’s like throwing your iphone-5 away because the battery has gone dead.
Putting yourself down for being poor is a form of bigotry. It is no different from putting yourself down for being from a particular race or ethnicity. Bigotry is one of humankind’s worst traits. You owe it to yourself and to the rest of humanity to refrain from this particularly unhelpful habit.
When you put yourself down for being poor, you are being unkind, unhelpful to your goals and generally unsupportive. It shows a double standard. If your neighbor fell on hard times, you wouldn’t put her down for it; you would show her kindness, encouragement and support. What stops you from doing the same for yourself?
Putting yourself down for being “broke” sabotages your efforts to accumulate greater wealth. By being overly critical of yourself, you diminish your confidence in being able to change your financial situation.
By calling yourself “poor”, you give yourself a label that you find hard to shake off. It’s like giving a dog a bad name like “dog”. Once you’ve labeled yourself this way, you see yourself as being stuck with the situation and unable to change it.
Having more money won’t make you a better person, just a financially richer person. Similarly, being broke doesn’t make you a worse person, just a poorer one.
Assuming that others will think less of you for being broke is a form of mind-reading. While it’s true that some people will judge you unfairly and unkindly, it doesn’t mean that everyone will. The person that you think is putting you down may in fact admire you for your frugal lifestyle. You can’t read minds, so why pretend that you can?
Even if others do look down on you for not being able to keep up with the crowd, this tells us more about the bigotry of the judge than it tells us about you.
Our culture’s obsession with financial status belongs only to our culture. There are some cultures that value the simple life. To put yourself down for having less than someone else is to succumb to the fickle dictates of fashion.
No matter how rich you are, there will be some people who like you for it, some who dislike you for it, and some who couldn’t care less. It is impossible to be liked by everyone. Even Mark Zuckerberg has his haters. (or perhaps more haters than fans?) You can’t have everyone’s approval, so stop worrying about what others think of you.
Instead of waiting until you get rich to respect yourself, you are better off respecting yourself despite your financial circumstances, and then deciding to increase your income because you respect yourself.
So I encourage you to do an experiment. Go out there and weave into a conversation with someone you would normally like to impress and say..”I can’t afford ____” and TOLERATE the discomfort in that–while refusing to judge yourself.