Turn Setbacks into Setups

Do Material Things Define You?

February 23, 2019

Whoever said “the best things in life aren’t things” probably would have been pretty disappointed to scroll through a modern social media feed. From people posing with their sports cars to the latest Kardashian updates, we see photos designed to incite our envy no matter where we turn.


But there’s lots of research to support the fact that all this materialism is actually terrible for us. The more materialistic we feel (i.e. the more we’re motivated by fitting in and by our external appearance), the less peaceful and happy we are. And the truth is, materialism is a disease affecting the rich and poor alike. Even for those influencers and friends who seem to have it all, they’re often living their lives in quiet desperation.


Are these the lifestyles you want to imitate?


It’s time to think critically: do you allow material things to define your worth?


Are you going broke for your appearance? If you’re planning to spend this year’s tax return on a bigger, better something to keep up with your social groups, it’s time to reconsider.


According to self-image psychology, when your entire value system is centered around your possessions and your external image, you’re more likely to experience anxiety, distress, and (worst of all) a low self-image.


Instead, we should be striving to create a positive self-image…which can be much harder than it sounds. In the modern world, setting aside materialism and maintaining a positive self-image can take a lot of focus. But working with self-image articles can give you more information on how to reconceptualize your self-image, and redefine your value system. And it all starts by setting some small goals for yourself as you take the first steps.


First of all, if you do nothing else, do this: quit criticizing yourself.


Most of us wouldn’t speak to a loved one the way we speak to ourselves—so try to stay more aware of your thoughts! When we internalize statements like “you’re worthless” or “you’re going to fail,” it becomes much more difficult to maintain a high self-esteem. Instead, start small: change your internal narrative with regular positive affirmations, which have been shown to increase self-esteem and lessen signs of hopelessness and depression.


Next, make sure to feed your soul.


We’re often so focused on money and material things as measures of success that we forget to nurture what makes us who we are. Instead, spend time cultivating what what you find most valuable: get in touch with your inner child, authentically go after the personal goals you want, and recognize your own strengths. By recognizing and falling back on these authentic parts of ourselves, we start to feel stronger and create a better self-image. Best of all, this self-image often stays stronger for us even in times of doubt or when we feel we’ve “failed.”


Finally, we’ll leave you with a straightforward one: exercise.


It may sound surprising to have exercise as a tip for improving self-esteem, but regular exercise is correlated with better mental health overall. Plus, it’s a quick win: because making plans to work out regularly means you’re coordinating your time around self-care and personal goals, which are huge parts of maintaining your self-esteem.


Don’t forget that material goods should never be an entrance fee to fit into a group. If you’re going broke in an effort to feel happy and worthwhile, it’s time to shift your value system and cultivate a stronger, healthier self-esteem instead.

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