Feeling Guilty for What You Have
There are a lot of people in this world who don't have much and if you are a compassionate person you will be very conscious of that. But what if you do have more than others? What if you are more fortunate, and dare I say it, even privileged (in any way)? Does that mean you should automatically be ashamed of it?
There is a stigma in society that is often attached to success, or more specifically, wealth. Everybody wants it but nobody wants to admit to that without trying to justify it away. Those who have less judge those who have more as greedy and shallow, especially in how they choose to spend their money. And those who have more feel guilty or shameful for being abundant and so they try to tone down their image of wealth, feeling like it is too taboo to discuss. But is that really fair or even justified?
We cannot paint everyone with the same brush, just like we cannot say an entire group is responsible for the actions of a few. People in positions of privilege are not bad people simply by virtue of their wealth or status. And people with that wealth and status need not feel guilty for their privilege unless they themselves know they are on shaky moral ground.
Having money does not automatically make a person selfish, ruthless, or shallow. That is a human decision that comes from choice, nature, and consciousness, or a lack thereof. And how anyone spends their money is really a very personal experience that cannot be fairly judged based on external appearances alone. And so, I think that the more we all focus on our own good fortune, and the less we keep track of other people's assets, the more successful we will all be in our own right.
Privilege only goes so far without the right tools to make it useful. The way I see it, the key to privilege is 1) to be appreciative of it, and 2) to be mindful with it. Without appreciation for what you have and without the proper consciousness to make good on it, the less meaning and value it will actually hold. With great power (and privilege) comes great responsibility. And so the more any of us have, the more power and resources we also have at our disposal. But just because there is greater responsibility here, that does not mean that we do not also deserve to indulge in what we love too. Life is simply about balance, and we all deserve to do what we love with balance.
In my opinion envy is more often that not the culprit that causes anyone to judge anyone else. But envy displays a lack mentality and in reality it only ends up harming the one who is experiencing it. Lack begets lack. So if we want to be abundant ourselves we need to start celebrating others' successes. We need to be inspired by them and look for the positives rather than seeking out their flaws or inadequacies. Tabloid magazines are as popular as they are today because enough people on some level want to hear that celebrities with great fame and fortune are struggling in relationships or have fallen on hard times. But how will that ultimately support our own success? Doesn't it make more sense that the more we focus on the good, the more the good will focus on us?
One of my least favorite comments is when someone says to me, "Must be nice!" in a snide kind of way. My response? "Yes, it is nice! Thank you for noticing." Now while I do understand human nature and I do understand where this type of comment is coming from, it still amazes me that people don't connect the dots between their feelings of envy and how that perpetuates lack in their own lives. I am not saying everyone is necessarily going to become a millionaire or ultimately more fulfilled solely by being happy for other people, but I am saying that the more we focus on what we don't have (that others do), the more we will be creating lack in our mentality and, subsequently, in our own experience. Furthermore, we don't know nearly enough about others' histories to fairly judge or criticize how they choose to live their lives. Plus, if we are all being honest with ourselves, if such opportunities presented themselves to us all, I don't believe any of us would truly reject them.
I was not born into monetary wealth or social status but even if I was I wouldn't feel the need to justify or defend it; I would just do something meaningful with it. There is higher purpose behind why any of us get what we get and start how we start and so I believe the key is to do anything we can to figure out what that purpose is for each of us individually, while also enjoying however much we have with true appreciation. Personally I have always admired and aligned myself with the essence of abundance and success. I have always been inspired by self-made millionaires and even billionaires, and even those who were born into that kind of influence. Why? Because I've always looked to the beauty and abundance in this world to inspire and fuel my desires, and I have always marveled at the infinite abundance to which we all have access within nature in all its glorious forms.
I've also been very conscious in my life that the more I have, the more I have available to contribute and share with my loved-ones and with the world at large, in my own way. I know that with "privilege" comes the power to positively influence others, but that doesn't mean we can't also enjoy ourselves along the way. I celebrate wealth and abundance in all its joyous forms because I know this empowers me to make my life more fulfilling and, subsequently, others' lives better too. When the cup runs over there is more to go around; there is more money, yes, but there is also more energy and more time to share. Plus, conscious spending helps the economy flourish as it keeps people employed and able to share their passions for what they do with others.
No matter how little we had (financially-speaking) growing up, my parents always made me feel like we had everything. My mom would always make everything feel lavish and high-end and my dad always had a positive outlook on life and our future possibilities (and took action on it). And regardless of the "reality" in which we lived I always felt rich because we always made the most of what we had and held our heads up high. We were also always inspired (rather than jealous) by people who had what we wanted because it gave us an example of possibility. Fast forward to today, now that we can afford more of what we love, that sense of appreciation and love for quality, integrity, and luxury still remains.
I learned early on that abundance is truly a state of mind. I also learned that my self-worth and ultimate happiness are not dependent upon anything external to me. So whether you have a little or a lot relative to other people, there is never anything to be ashamed of regardless. And there is certainly no need to be ashamed of enjoying what you do have on any level in any way that feels right to you.
So for the privileged out there (on all levels and in any shape or form), please do not feel guilty for what you have; just be purposeful with it. Enjoy your indulgences but do it from a place of authentic joy rather than for the sake of appearances. And for those of you who are green with envy, just do you. Focus on what you can accomplish and how you can contribute to the positive uplifting of society. Then think about when you become "privileged." How would you feel if despite all you've been through and done people who didn't know you judged you solely on the basis of how much you had and what you did with your money?