Why Do People Hate the Rich? The Uncomfortable Truth

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Unscripted" by MJ DeMarco. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why do people hate the rich? Are the rich truly to blame for the world’s poverty?

Some people hate the rich because they believe that all rich people are inherently corrupt and selfish and that they prevent regular people from accessing money-making opportunities. This belief isn’t just untrue, it’s also limiting because it keeps you in the victim mentality.

Here’s how hating the rich prevent you from becoming rich yourself.

Don’t Hate the Rich

Why do people hate the rich? Some people hate the rich because they believe that rich people are to blame for their lack of wealth. According to DeMarco, this belief makes you feel like a victim. Because you feel like a victim, you waste time complaining about your finances and feel powerless to improve them.  

Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Challenge a Victim Mentality

DeMarco claims that many people feel victimized by rich people and feel powerless as a result. Research clarifies what he means: Having a victim mentality—when you ignore your role in creating your problems and instead blame others for thwarting you—creates feelings of apathy that reduce your motivation to pursue your goals.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) practitioners suggest that you can overcome the tendency to get caught up in self-defeating thoughts and emotions by questioning the validity of your assumptions. They provide specific questions to help you objectively examine your thoughts about your (financial) circumstances. Answering these questions will help shift your focus from blaming others and feeling powerless to being accountable and feeling empowered:


– What evidence is there to support your thoughts about this?
– What evidence disproves or contradicts your thoughts about this?
– Are your opinions getting in the way of the facts?
– Are there any facts that you’ve ignored or overlooked?

Other explanations

– Can you think about this differently?
– Is your mood impacting the way you’re thinking about this?
– Have you ever felt differently about this?
– Are you likely to change your opinion about this over time?

Your feelings

– How does this thought make you feel good?
– How does this thought make you feel bad?
– How will you feel if you continue to hold onto this thought?

Appreciate the Value Rich People Create

Overcome this belief and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset by shifting from blame to appreciation. DeMarco argues that rich people aren’t to blame for your lack of wealth, you are—because you haven’t created sufficient value to acquire the income you want. However, each time you blame others for the state of your finances, you get caught up in a negative mindset that prevents you from coming up with constructive money-making ideas.

On the other hand, if you focus on all of the different ways rich people have made your life easier or more enjoyable, you’ll realize that they deserve to be rich because they’ve contributed something valuable to society. For example, Jeff Bezos deserves to be rich because he makes online shopping more convenient for millions of people. DeMarco claims that this realization will make it easy for you to shift your thoughts from blame to appreciation—creating a more positive mindset. As a result, you’ll feel more empowered to come up with your own ideas to make a valuable and profitable contribution to society.

(Shortform note: Though the benefits of appreciation and gratitude are well-known—they positively impact your mood and productivity levels—it can be difficult to appreciate wealthy people, especially when your finances are a mess. Psychologists suggest that you’re more likely to shift your thoughts from blame to appreciation by establishing a daily gratitude practice, such as keeping a gratitude journal. This creates a habit of thinking grateful thoughts. Some self-help practitioners also suggest using visual reminders to trigger thoughts of appreciation. For example, use a gratitude quote as your screensaver or place a picture of something you really appreciate where you’ll see it most often.) 

Why Do People Hate the Rich? The Uncomfortable Truth

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  • Why the only way to achieve financial success is to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Eight beliefs about money that prevent you from achieving wealth
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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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