Monday, April 9, 2012

Feeling Sorry for Yourself - Bad Strategy

Feeling sorry for yourself feels good sometimes - to wallow in self-pity.   But as a long-term strategy, is not very effective.

I was on an online forum and was shocked at the number of people who have acquired learned helplessness.  Rather than take action in their own lives, they lay down, feel sorry for themselves, and then Externalize all their problems.

On the Left, or the Right - it doesn't matter.  They will tell you that the whole system is fixed, so why bother trying.   Don't fund your 401(k), they say - that is just a scam.   And those illegal immigrants are taking all our jobs.   And why bother trying hard at work, if they won't pay you a "living wage" anyway?  And Obama will just tax you to death, right?  So being unemployed is an act of patriotism.

Just give up, do drugs, blow your brains out.

Sounds like a plan.   For them, anyway.   I have other ideas.

The harsh reality is, reality is not that harsh.   If you are willing to work hard, learn some useful skills, apply yourself, save a little money, well, after 20-30 years, you will become quite comfortably wealthy.

Of course, that is not much use to a 25-year-old "OWS" protester, who wants wealth now, not later - and feels entitled to it.  After all, they've been to college and that was hard!

But what they fail to realize is that time is their friend, and while they may not have a lot of money, they have a staggering amount of time - time to learn a skill, find a job, save some money, pay off those student loans.  They have all the time in the world to do this - decades.   But they want it all now, and when they can't get it, they give up and cower in a corner, convinced that nothing they do in their lives makes a difference, if only because they cannot see progress right away.

So on these online forums, the predominate theme is "Don't bother trying" and "the wealthy is someone else, not you and me" and "the whole game is rigged" and "everyone else is getting away with murder."

These are not helpful mindsets - but rather self-destructive ones.   And often they are used as post hoc justifications by depressed people to ratify their poor choices in life.   They don't fund their IRA or 401(k) or even buy health insurance.   "Why bother," they think, "the system is rigged!"

Although when pressed for specifics, they cannot elaborate how the system is rigged exactly.  The stock market went down, they will say (and given the media's reporting of markets, it is no wonder they have this impression).  What they fail to realize is, well, it goes back up.   One fellow actually posted that you might as well not bother saving money as the mutual fund companies take out fees.   What he is neglecting to consider is that (a) saving is better than no saving, and (b) the amount you make is still pretty staggering even after management fees are subtracted.

All of this is weak thinking to the nth degree.  And I suspect that there are likely drugs involved in such thinking, particularly marijuana.   Think about it - have you ever met a positive, upbeat marijuana smoker?  Hell, no!   They all bend your ear with this downer crap about how rotten everything is.

Engaging in self-pity and feeling sorry for yourself is something that everyone does, on occasion.  They are emotions, and like I've said before, emotions are like farts - everyone has them, and they often have more to do with what you ate, more than anything else.   The mistake these folks make is to take these emotions and use them in place of critical thinking skills.  They engage in emotional thinking, and let emotions carry over from their emotional lives to their financial lives.  Making financial decisions based on emotions is never a good idea.

Self-pity is probably the worst one of all.

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