Low Self-Esteem: Keeping Up with the Joneses is Keeping You Down
The Joneses just got a brand new car, a BMW. Their “old” car, a Mercedes, was not even two years old. Mrs. Jones is planning Junior’s upcoming eighth birthday party — complete with a full petting zoo, pony rides, and even an elephant. Twenty children are invited to eat a full lunch, mounds of gourmet candies and an enormous sheet cake with a photo-likeness of Junior as the frosting. Mr. Jones just landed the big account at his firm and is bragging about the big bonus that he got as a result.
Everyone knows a family like this, and it usually isn’t your own. You struggle to act as if these things are no big deal, that you could have them all, too, if you wanted. But secretly you are eating your heart out that they are the first on the block to get the new BMW, and that they can afford to provide such an elaborate birthday party for their son. You drive a Chevy and work on commission. No sale, no money.
You struggle to keep up by talking about how you haven’t bought a new car lately because you aren’t sure of what kind of car you want to get. And you are thrilled that your son’s birthday is months away, hoping that by that time, all of the kids at Junior’s party, including your own son, will have forgotten about it.
By trying to keep pace with your neighbors, you are developing a resentment and hostility for them while at the same time beating yourself up for not being as “good” as they are. You see yourself as a failure compared to their fancy cars and money and are carrying around negative internal feelings that get, and keep, you down.
It’s time to change your way of thinking. You are the only one suffering from those internal feelings because you are the one who created them. You don’t feel worthwhile to yourself and your family because you can’t provide them with the things the Joneses have. The key word there is “feel.” And you are feeling a low self-esteem and low self-worth over something that you cannot control.
But you can change how you feel. Of course you are worthwhile. You provide for your family. You put food on the table and a car in the driveway. Your family may not have all the creature comforts they want, but they have plenty of what they need. Take a second look at your life without comparing it to the Joneses and you will see that.
Stop judging yourself by what the Joneses have and do. You have no control over that, but you do have control over how you interpret their effect on your life. Their accomplishments do not lay negative judgments on how you live, but you are taking their successes personally as if you are a failure because you haven’t reached the goals of an entirely different family.
Plenty of people drive Chevys. Plenty of people have homemade cake and pointed hats as the entertainment at their children’s birthday parties. And plenty of people are happy with that kind of life. Stop owning the negative feelings that pop up every time you fall short of the Joneses. Their successes are not a reflection of any kind on you. Think about what you do have and start teaching yourself to believe that you can be, and are, a successful, worthwhile person, no matter what the Joneses do.