Because money isn’t everything!
The money in your pocket has absolutely zero reflection on who you are as a person. While we all know that to be true, some of us can’t help getting a little confused here. We might say that we don’t care about money, but for many of us, how many digits we have in our banks seems to be a rather big deal.
New research from the University of Buffalo gives a rare insight into what happens when we base our self-esteem on the pursuit of money. The study suggests that when we see money and self-worth as one and the same, it’s easy to get into a negative thought-cycle. For example, you could find that you suddenly start comparing yourself to other people and how much money they have. That in itself can be damaging.
“People don’t often think of the possible downsides of wrapping their identity and self-worth around financial pursuits, because our society values wealth as a model of how one should be in the world,” explains Lora Park, the study’s author. “It’s important to realise these costs because people are gravitating toward this domain as a source of self-esteem without realising that it has these unintended consequences.”
And now, for the science… As part of the study, Park and other researchers worked with 349 college students and a nationally representative group of 389 people too. They used a Financial Contingency of Self-Worth (CSW) scale to figure out how much each participant believed that self-worth was tied to financial gain. The participants were then put through a series of tests to figure out how secure they were in their finances.
“When we asked people to write about a financial stressor, they experienced a drop in their feelings of autonomy,” says Park. “They also showed more disengagement from their financial problems — they gave up searching for solutions. We didn’t find this in people who didn’t tie their self-esteem to financial success or among those who were asked to write about an academic stressor.”
When the participants had written down their experiences, the essays were analysed by the researchers. The results were quite surprising. The ways in which people reacted to negative words when they based a lot of their self-worth on finances were very telling of their emotions and how they deal with different feelings.
“We found that people who highly based their self-worth on financial success used more negative emotion-related words, like sadness and anger,” says Park. “This demonstrates that just thinking about a financial problem generates a lot of stress and negative emotions for these individuals.”
Those who base their self-worth on finances, rather than other external things, may well find that they struggle immensely when financial problems arise. For instance, when they lose their job or have a large bill to pay, these individuals may find it hard to cope.
“This suggests that self-esteem concerns emerge when people are thinking about financial problems, but if you can repair their self-esteem by having them think about their strengths, then there is no reduction in feelings of autonomy.”
Simple Ways To Boost Your Self-Esteem
So, the key to avoiding this very issue is trying to regain your self-esteem and control. Where should you start? Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can boost your confidence and take back your self-esteem (without basing it on your cash flow!).
Be kinder to yourself
If you’re the type of person who is always criticising every little thing that you do, it could be time to stop. Negative self-talk is only going to lead you down a dangerous pathway here. If you can’t be nice to yourself then how do you expect other people to be? You may not even realise that you’re doing this on a regular basis.
When you’re simply sitting around at home, thinking about your day, what kind of thing goes through your mind? If you sit there wondering how you managed to ‘screw up’ once again at work or why you haven’t done something important yet, that is a problem. You’re being an authority figure in your own life. Quit the cycle. Tell yourself you’re doing fine.
You don’t have to be a gym bunny to exercise on a regular basis. Making sure that you stay active should be at the centre of your life. It’s not about losing weight or even staying in shape! Instead, this is about giving yourself a little mental boost each and every day. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that make you feel happier and more comfortable with yourself and all that happens to you.
Start small. You could start by attending a class or two each week and seeing where you go from there. No one is expecting you to become a complete fitness freak overnight. That’s not going to happen. However, engaging in something active is a smart move.
Treat your friends right
You thought that this was all about you, right? Wrong! The way that you treat others also has an impact on how you feel on a day to day basis. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that you get what you put out there. When you treat people with nothing short of respect and kindness, you’re likely to get the same back from them.
That in itself will build your self-esteem and make you an altogether happier person. Often enough, when people suffer from low self-esteem, they lash out at those around them. You may find yourself getting mad at people and treating them badly. While that’s a reaction to how you’re feeling, it means that the cycle will continue. They will treat you the same back and you will feel even worse than you once did.
Learn a new skill
When was the last time you went ahead and learned something new? Many of us think that learning stops when school or university ends. Nothing could be further from the truth. Learning something new, like a language or how to play an instrument, could be what you need to boost your self confidence. Life is all about expanding and growing in any way that you can do so. That’s what makes us happy.
Should you feel as though you have nothing left to learn or try, you may well start to feel like you’re stagnating. That’s a horrible position to be in. Look out for things that you can try for yourself. You may just discover a brand new passion you never knew you had.
What do you have that no one else does? What unique talents do you offer the world? No two people are the same. That means that you likely have some things that make you special and different. It’s okay to admit that. For once, why not take a moment to appreciate all that you have to offer the world. You can do this by yourself so don’t worry.
Get a pen and paper and take a few minutes to write down what talents you have. These don’t have to be huge things; they can be small things too. They may be the way that you make people laugh, how you write, how good you are to your family. Everything that you do that makes you proud needs to go on the list. Read it back to yourself. If that doesn’t give you a large dose of self-esteem, I’m not sure what will.
Spend some time alone
When was the last time you really spent some time alone? How on earth can you know who you are if you don’t give yourself a chance to find out? Often enough, we all spend far too much time around people. It may feel natural to want to socialise all of the time, but is it doing you any good? The short answer is no. In fact, when you find yourself always around others, it could mean that you don’t know how to be okay by yourself.
Now, while you should by no means go ahead and become a recluse, take some time to do things by yourself. You may want to go shopping or head to the cinema. You may want to spend an evening in with nobody but Netflix or even a good book. Having this space will help you figure out who you are and what you want in life. That can only be a good thing.
Money isn’t everything. Not by a long shot. Sure, we would all like to have more of it, but that doesn’t mean it matters half as much as we pretend it does. Working on yourself and your own self-esteem is one way to realise that. Why not try some of these tips today and see how they work out for you? You never know; you may just discover that there is a whole load of confidence locked inside you! Enjoy.