Your Obsession With Other People’s Income Is Hurting You

Vanessa Torre

What’s supposed to be inspiring is going to ruin your mental health. Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Imagine the world for a minute if we had no idea what anyone made as to their income. Sure, we understand that salary ranges exist, and we need that data to make informed decisions about our careers. But, what if we took all that personal income information, stuck it in a box, tied it up with a pretty bow, and threw it off a cliff?

We’d be more content with that we have. We’d do a better job of planning our lives for the future. Our self-esteem and self-worth would improve.

We’d be able to celebrate our own successes.

That’s not what I see happening. I see people working multiple jobs, burning out at a very young age, and setting unrealistic expectations for themselves that leave them feeling like failures.

Something is broken.

We’re on income data overload, and it’s making us crazy.

We’re made to believe that we should be inspired by every single person who has hacked some system to maximize their earnings.

Question the intention of every single person that tells you exactly what they make. It’s low key mental manipulation. They are selling you something that, more times than not, will destroy your mental health.

The only person’s income we should be concerned about is our own. The rest is noise. The noise has become deafening.

I have one mother of a spreadsheet to track my finances. It has six different worksheets that are all linked to each other through formulas. Every day, when I have my morning coffee, I check all of my accounts (yes, even my investments), and I update the data.

It projects exactly how much money I will have when I retire at 62 based on conservative assumptions, how much money I need to pay to whom for the rest of the month, and even how much money my daughter has toward college every month for four years based on what I have saved for her. I have a balance sheet that tells me my net worth. It’s pretty amazing.

I’ll tell you how to make your own colossal spreadsheet, but there’s no way I’m telling you the data in that spreadsheet. You don’t need to know that.

It doesn’t help me, and it doesn’t help you.

If I tell you how to track your financial info yourself, I am giving you a tool. If I tell you the data in that spreadsheet, all I am encouraging you to do is compare your success to mine.

Like comparative suffering doesn’t make us feel better about our struggles or the struggles of others, comparative success doesn’t make us feel better about our own achievements. It actually makes us feel worse. Comparison is the devil’s playground, and he’s having a heyday right now.

If we make more money than someone else, we feel great for us, but it robs us of the empathetic ability to feel joy for that person in their space.

If we make less, it robs us of our ability to do the same thing for ourselves. This is not mentally healthy.

So either we become an asshole taking joy in elevating ourselves above someone else, or we become the victim of the great unfairness of life that someone else is doing better than we are.

Reading article after article, watching show after show where people flaunt their income is not going to turn you into the money-making machine that is shown before you. There’s one reason for that. You are not that person.

Not everyone has the resources, support, or means that others may have that allows them to make large sums of money doing whatever it is they are convincing you that you can do. Cut yourself some slack.

Stop obsessing over what someone else is making. Focus instead on yourself. Work as hard as feels good to you and forget all the other noise that is outside influence telling you it’s not good enough.

Sit in the space of your own contentment and relish how good it feels. There is nothing wrong with level setting your own accomplishments and earnings. When you get to the point where you understand what is good enough, an amazing thing happens. You become good enough.

So the next time you think of launching the next great Instagram account, monetized YouTube Channel, or any other plan that has made someone else $10k last month, reconsider.

Instead, consider the price of your joy. Your sanity. Your time. Your energy. Your self-esteem. These are the things you may be robbed of. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take a chance or be motivated to succeed. I’m saying that the chance you take should be modeled after your own picture of success, not someone else’s.

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Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, she won’t stop taking pictures of her drinks. IG: vanessaltorre Twitter: @vanessaltorre

Phoenix, AZ

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