Why is that? Why should Joe Average be so emotionally invested in how his team does? It is because being associated with a “winner” makes a person feel good about him/herself. For someone with poor self-esteem, his or her sense of inadequacy is replaced with a sense of superiority, if only for a short time – until the next game or season.
Likewise, people equate possessions with being a success. The bigger, the newer and the pricier the item, the more the consumer feels on a higher madreigah than the “have-nots.” Shopping makes people who have a poor self-image feel better about themselves. Marketers know this and build on people’s insecurities. If you buy their product, you will either get the girl/guy; the job/promotion; your life will become exciting, etc. In other words, you become a “somebody” by dressing according to the latest fashion or by acquiring the most updated gadgets.
However, this sense of “coolness” is fleeting because almost overnight there is a new and improved version of whatever it is you bought – and all you have to show for it is crippling debt.
People who have a healthy sense of self don’t need to artificially make themselves feel good. They don’t have to buy and accumulate “stuff” to know their true worth. They don’t need to be snobs, or ingratiate themselves with people they perceive as being superior because they are wealthy, popular or have “yichus.”
How do you recognize someone who has positive self-esteem? They are the ones who are modest and unassuming, who do not chase kavod – despite achievements they justifiably could brag about. Their modesty is a reflection of true yirat Shamayim because they know that all they have is a gift from Hashem and not because they are so special or better.
Those who live genuine Torah lives know that the authentic and long-lasting way to feeling good about themselves is by giving, not by getting. Ask yourself this question: Who feels more positive about herself – someone who sent a meal over to a family whose mother is in the hospital, or the person who bought designer shoes with an inflated price tag, shoes that will be “yesterday’s news” around the time the credit card bill arrives in the mail?
Reining in our impulse to spend money we don’t have and harnessing our Torah inspired mandate to set limits and boundaries will help lead to a healthy bank account – and a good night’s sleep.