April 17, 2000 (Chicago, Ill.) -- You can't turn on the television these days without hearing about somebody striking it rich at a hot new "dot-com." And it can be painful watching other people buy yachts while you're still struggling to keep your head above water.
A recent Newsweek poll found that 67% of Americans earning $30,000 to $49,000 feel they've missed out on the stock market boom; 71% have no hope of getting rich in their present jobs; and 72% feel pressured to keep up with a newly wealthy friend or neighbor.
Chicago attorney and organizational psychologist Daniel Kegan, PhD, JD, says there's another kind of anxiety that comes from feeling left out in the cold. "You think, everybody else is making money. And everyone knows how to invest and manage it but me."
If you're panicked about your IRA and having enough money for retirement, you're under just as much stress as someone whose company has gone public.
"Anxiety is increasing in America because we falsely believe money can buy us security or happiness," says Ivan Kos, PhD, a New York therapist who specializes in fear management. "And we are rapidly becoming polarized into a society made up of the haves and the have-nots."
Here's how to cope with asset anxiety:
- Acknowledge that you're less in control of your money than you would like and that news of the latest buyout may prompt some uncomfortable feelings, including ones of low self-esteem and a general lack of control.
- Recognize that assets also can be liabilities -- and that money can't buy happiness, nor will it make you better off emotionally.
- Take responsibility for your finances and learn as much as you can. Don't rely solely on the expertise of others.
- Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Accept that there is no key to the global financial system, and no one knows it all.
(Compiled by Daniel Kegan, PhD, JD, a Chicago-based organizational psychologist and intellectual properties attorney who deals with asset anxiety.)
Valerie Andrews has written for Intuition, HealthScout, and many other publications. She lives in Greenbrae, Calif.