Wealth-gap-itisgot you down this holiday season? Having less disposable income is never easy during the holiday season, and given that the current gap between those who have and do not have money is one of the largest ever in American history, many more of us simply don’t have the money to fulfill our holiday wishes, our desires to be generous and show our love to those who matter. The holidays encourage us to open our hearts, to be generous, caring, and connected. In our society we use gift giving and charity as a way of showing our love and compassion. And then there is the chorus of print and electronic media, screaming “it’s the holidays—buy, buy, buy”, and the 24/7 box stores as well as the pressures of “always on”cyber shopping that follow suit. As much as you would like to be able to bring light and good cheer during this time of year, your bank account isn’t as full as your desires, leaving you feeling frustrated, powerless, and depressed. This is Wealth Gap-itis: Increasing symptoms of anxiety and depression resulting from the increased demands and financial pressures of your daily life, amplified by the very real impact of the wealth gap. Even though you are aware of the economic conditions, you still blame yourself for not having the financial resources you believe you need, not being able to get financially ahead as you thought you could in a society that brands itself on the virtues of the American Dream. The longer you have Wealth Gap-itis, the more you feel powerless and hopeless—as if you have been left out (or kicked out) of the party. The demands of the holiday season only add fuel to this psychological fire, which over time, can result in damaging burns to your self-esteem and self-worth.
Think for a moment about how you define a “successful” holiday season: How much of it is determined by purchasing all the right gifts? Or is it more about relationships, finding ways of connecting with those who matter to you? Or is it about giving back? America suffers from a cultural and psychological overvaluation of money: How much we can spend and show what we have is too large a part of our self-esteem, our desire for admiration from others, as well as proof of our love. The changes in our economy are part of large socio-economic forces that gained traction in the last three decades. In the USA, globalization has been good for the few, bad for the many. Many of us feel that the middle class of Asian nations has risen at the price of the American worker--the backbone of our economic machine since the end of World War II—who has been overlooked and devalued. Unless you are one of the winners in the Tech economy (or an inheritor of wealth), these social forces and global changes have, like a slow poison, seeped into your bloodstream and have likely resulted in less income and personal well-being.
We wanted to give a name to this syndrome to bring the psychological impact of the wealth gap to light and most importantly, to help you identify and take charge of its impact. So what can you do with the pain and suffering of Wealth Gap-itis?
So if you want to heal from the wounds of Wealth Gap-itis, go with what you can do and stop looking at what you can’t do. Be productive and creative with the best of you. Most importantly: Don’t confuse your self-worth with your financial worth. Do have empathy for your financial struggles, don’t get caught in self-pity, and find people and processes that empower you to get out of your own way and take do-able action steps that are aligned with your most important values and goals.