I originally was going to name this post “you should go love yourself” but stopped short because a) as a millennial, I don’t want to be automatically pegged as a “Belieber” *shudders*and b) I’m going to discuss some stuff that might come across as a little “woo-woo” (that I’ll make a solid effort in proving it’s markedly un-woo and rooted in human psychology) and don’t want to harm my case any further.
Once upon a time, before I was in a relationship (and before my debt made me into a bad girlfriend), I was recommended a book called “Why Men Love B!tches” (I realize my editing is a pathetically thin veil to hide the cuss) by Sherry Argov. I can almost see you rolling your eyes at the title, and I really wish this book was named differently so it can get some more cred for some of its strong points, but bare with me.
This book was recommended to me by a former female powerhouse boss who said it’s a great place to learn sales negotiation. As the author explains, she uses the term “b!tch” as a tongue-in-cheek way to imply a person who is incredibly grounded in themselves and in their self-respect, puts their well-being as their top priority and always acts in a manner of confidence, poise, and a healthy high self-regard. My old manager claimed it was a great way to learn that how to confidently put your offer on the table, and be willing to walk away when the terms weren’t going to be good for you. No doormats here.
Although there’s much to the book I don’t care to ever remember or have brought into my psyche, there was a line in there that struck me really hard and has lasted with me years after I read it. I forget the context exactly (I think it was for anytime you felt like you weren’t good enough), instead of making a self-destructive choice, or thinking you have to overcompensate for yourself, turn to yourself and say, “this is me, in all my glory, and it doesn’t get any better than this.” Argov then finishes by saying something along the lines of ‘believe this about yourself truly and at all times, and you’ll spare yourself the years of therapy’. I know I just got even deeper into woo-woo territory here, but again, bare with me.
Before delving into this more, it reminded of something I read by Louise Hay (chalk up more woo-points for me) where she bases her whole philosophy on this: pretty much all your personal problems/issues can be solved by truly loving yourself more. When I first read it, I thought riiight, let’s just put this book down and go read The Economist or my beloved Jared Diamond books for a dose of reality. However the thought kept gnawing at me. I vehemently disagreed and wanted to distance myself from ‘the woo’ but it kept coming back to me. I didn’t want to admit it, but she just might be right; you don’t stay with someone who treats you crappy if you’ve got a healthy sense of self-worth. You don’t put up with someone treating you as a doormat, or disrespectfully, or ruin yourself by over-indulging with booze or drugs until your life falls apart, because, well, you love yourself. You want what’s best for yourself and why on earth would you put up with stuff that makes you feel cruddy when you know you deserve to be healthy and happy? There was something to this woo.
The person who really cares for themselves doesn’t make horrible decisions with their money that robs them of life opportunities, robs them of peace of mind, and robs them of decent sleep because they’re up all night worrying about the debt they accrued *lowers head.* The way a person with healthy self-respect eats food that makes them feel great and exercises and gets that blood going because by golly, they respect and cherish that body they’re in, a person practicing some healthy self-care/love/respect makes sound financial decisions that result in a sense of security and gives them wonderful opportunities while also guarding them from the awful circumstances that ensue from debt, like creditors hunting them down or paralyzing fear the bank will recall their loan.
So, did I go and let myself go full throttle on a spending addiction and now a mountain of debt simply because I don’t love myself enough? I’ll spare you (and my ego) the short answer. But this is where the Sherry Argov quote comes in. I have never looked at myself and thought “this is me, in all my glory, and it doesn’t get any better than this.” Actually, I usually have thought the exact opposite. I’ve spent a colossal amount of my life trying to figure out what I can do/get/buy to make myself better. It’s more like “this is me, and if I get the power suit and the shoes and the matching purse and the expensive looking hair, I might be able to come across as better than how I actually see myself.” Not to be forgotten is that this “confident” person also eats at trendy restaurants with her expensive, spendy friends, and takes cabs everywhere and goes on a whim to Vegas or a weekend trip away while wearing over-priced shoes at all times. So I spent the money, and I bought – literally – the illusion of being that “this is me in all my glory” surface-level confident person, and I was absolutely hooked.
As someone who admits they are a recovering spendaholic, I have to put out there that no one is really addicted to spending. We’re addicted to how the result of acquiring whatever the object of our spending is makes us feel. And most of us want to be able to genuinely have that confident, genuine, “this is me in all my glory” feeling (I wouldn’t personally use that verbiage, but you know what I mean). If I was able to look at myself and think, “it doesn’t get better than this” when I’m stripped down, just myself, my mind, my being, I wouldn’t have filled that void with thousands of dollars’ worth of things/services/experiences so I can possess that self-assured confidence. Saying ‘it doesn’t get better than this’ is basically saying “I am so darn good the way I am, I don’t need anything more to feel any better” No need to buy anything. No spending any dough. You’re not just good, you’re freakin’ great. You’re so satisfied you couldn’t ask for anything more.
Now, I make it a point on writing this blog about myself and my experiences; I don’t make broad statements that apply to everyone and definitely don’t preach or give a “5 steps to XYZ” because I can’t speak on any platform of authority – I’m just a person trying hard to figure some stuff out here. But I do want to mention, I thought this woo-woo stuff didn’t apply to me, until I realized it applies to everyone. There is a multi-billion dollar advertising industry preying on the fact that so few of us – I’m going to be bold and outright say it – love ourselves enough to truly think they don’t need to buy anything to be better. The well-cut suit and the cologne and the sexy car will get you more dates, attractive dates. The makeup and the hair and that dress will make you more beautiful, and look how happy all these beautiful people in our ads are, don’t you want to be this happy with yourself and your life? Your love and your dedication to the well-being of your child really isn’t enough if you don’t get super “safety” object version 3.0 that cost $200 more than version 2.0 – don’t you want to be the best parent?? What I’m trying to say here is that I don’t think I’m writing this as FD the young woman in her early-30’s that’s having a crisis and working out some daddy issues on her blog. I’m saying this is incredibly universal (in our society) and the billions of dollars spent on advertising – that works!! That works amazingly and freakishly well! – proves that most of us must not be thinking “it doesn’t get any better than this” when we look at ourselves, or else we wouldn’t spend gazillions of dollars as a society perpetually trying to make ourselves better.
So now the blood is starting to rush to my cheeks and the feeling of sheepishness after exposing some pretty big vulnerabilities is making me feel bashful and wanting to control + all + delete everything, but… it’s my truth. I don’t have the experience, I don’t have the investing success, I don’t have the steps you should take to be financially independent or expertly frugal or even any better with your money. All I got is my truth … and dare I be bold enough to say, the truth for so many of us. So I’m going to sit with this for a bit, and I’m going to remember, when the urge to spend hits, and I think I need something or to spend money on something to make myself or my life “better”, that this is me, in all my glory, and it doesn’t get any better than this.