A couple weeks ago, I was having a bún bowl with my pal, Lauren of Hope and Humor Therapy. Between noodle slurps, we got to talking about how many businesses tell you to buy their product as an “investment” in yourself. They might say, “you’re worth it” or “put yourself first.” Through our conversation, we realized how gross this can be.
Despite the positive framing and positive intentions embedded in these lines, when you see this message over and over by a wide range of businesses it starts to feel icky. One can’t help but wonder how many times they are saying “No” to their own self-worth, self-love, self-care, or self-development when it’s framed this way.
The guilt of this can be a bit much…and it’s unnecessary guilt in the first place. The mental gymnastics we have to go through to navigate a landscape constantly telling us to BUY this in order to BE that is exhausting.
The thing is…buying this workshop, pedicure, book, or jungle print heels does not actually equate to self-worth. Self-worth can’t be bought, it’s cultivated. Grown from within. Independent of money.
Sometimes, too, not buying (fill in the blank) is a way to stand up for and nurture self-worth. A way to put yourself first. A way to honor your baseline needs. An assertion that you will be fine without this extra cost.
This reminds me of something my high school best friend’s dad once said of his wife: “She can make clothes from Walmart look good.”
Take THAT in for a moment.
SHE makes the clothes look good. Not the other way around. By all means, I like nice clothes but clothing or anything else does not define me…or you. You define you.
Every time I start to feel like I “need” to buy something “in order to” I recall this little memory.
The other thing that helps me get this in check is to consider benefits and bandwidth.
What are the tangible benefits of this thing? Be honest with yourself. And if the spiel you got sounds extra flowery, read between the lines. Can these benefits be gained in other ways? If you give yourself a little credit does that change the answer to that question?
And, do you really have the bandwidth to buy this? Do you have the time, money, energy to make solid use of this? Does the cost of this put you in the red zone in terms of time, money, or energy? If so, perhaps it’s a good call to pass. Sometimes saying, “You know, that workshop sounds fucking awesome, but my plate is full right now” is a greater investment in yourself.