Are Rich People Evil?

February 23, 2024

When it comes to building wealth, the biggest barrier is rarely tactical.

In my experience, the most significant shift for folks comes in understanding our cognitive financial programming, or what I like to call our money stories.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to a profound realization. The more people that I help look at the stories we tell ourselves about money, the more I see a pattern – we’re not as unique in our narratives as we might think.

After speaking to hundreds of people, I’ve found that most of us share only a handful of money stories.

Some people will bristle at this idea because it means their story isn’t special.

However, I find it immensely comforting.


Because it means we’re not alone.

And even better, if we can see and identify with others’ success in overcoming these narratives, that means that we can do it too.

Perhaps the most common story that holds us back?

Rich people are evil. 

This story is so ingrained in our collective psyche that anytime I host an event, a webinar, or a keynote with live audience interaction, I can virtually guarantee that this one will surface in some form.

So let’s dig in – where does this story come from, and more importantly, how does it hold us back? 

The origins of this idea are at least as old as society itself. It’s woven deep into the tapestry of our collective consciousness. Many ancient religious texts and teachings discuss the moral responsibilities of the wealthy and the dangers of greed. For instance, in Christianity, there are biblical passages, like the story of the rich man and Lazarus in the Gospel of Luke, which caution against the corrupting power of wealth. Similar themes are found in other religious traditions, including Islam and Buddhism.

Throughout history, philosophers have debated the moral implications of wealth. For example, in ancient Greece, philosophers like Plato and Aristotle discussed the role of wealth in a virtuous life. In more modern times, ethical theories such as utilitarianism have sometimes critiqued the accumulation of wealth if it contributes to greater societal inequality.

But how many of us grew up hearing some version of this story as we sat at the dinner table with our parents? 

This was certainly the case with one of my clients. He struggled to recall a single meal where his father wasn’t vehemently criticizing the moral implications of wealth. Night after night, he would pontificate on how rich people exploit the poor, rich people are greedy, and the rich don’t work hard and are therefore immoral.

Setting aside the idea that rich people are evil for a moment, one thing these conversations instilled in this client was the virtue of hard work.

In fact, this seasoned hustler is one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met. 

He built a service business from the ground up, sold it for an undisclosed 8-figure sum, and continued to hustle for the private equity acquirers in his earn-out period.

But there was a dark side to this success. 

Behind the scenes, the hustle was affecting things with his family. Despite all of the financial success, this client’s drive was almost compulsive. He loves his wife and kids, and desperately wanted to be a great father and family man. However, he found himself always putting off family vacations and often missing dinners and sporting events. His lack of presence was driving a wedge between him and his wife. 

He came to me seeking advice on how to create balance.

We quickly uncovered that with his current position, the hustle wasn’t a requirement. In fact, he had three other partners who were essentially mailing it in since the acquisition. They were working 20-30 hours a week while he was pushing 60.

As we went deeper, we found that his deepest fear was disappointing his father.​

Underneath it all, he was living in constant fear that if he took his foot off the gas and enjoyed the fruits of his labor, his father would view him as evil. ​​

Now, this is a simplified explanation of his feelings and subconscious thoughts. If you asked him point blank if he was scared of abandonment by his father, he would have never been able to pinpoint that as the cause of his stress.​

In fact, this client has a great relationship with his father. If asked directly, he may have even laughed at the idea. This is often the case with deep personal work – the thoughts driving our behaviors aren’t rational.​

But they drive us nonetheless. ​​

And this story has many flavors. The way I see the subconscious belief that rich people are evil materialize is in a phenomenon called the fear of success.​

We all know the fear of failure – we don’t take risks or start new ventures because we fear how we’ll be viewed if we fail.​

But the fear of success is a more subtle, more insidious cousin. The fear of success is when we keep ourselves small because we are afraid of how others will view us if we actually succeed.​

There is a direct link between how we view the rich and the fear of success. If our younger self internalized the worldview that the rich are evil, we will do almost anything to avoid being perceived as rich and, therefore, evil.

Maybe we self-sabotage by spending money as soon as it hits our account. Maybe we make sure our company doesn’t grow too fast or beyond a certain size because deep down, we fear that those we love will leave us if we become too successful.​

The hardest part about the fear of success? There is truth behind the fear. ​​

When we become more and more successful, it can be harder for our old friends or family members to relate. Their insecurities can result in jealousy and passive-aggressive behavior. For those on the receiving end, this can create feelings of isolation and loneliness.

When someone says, “Must be nice,” this is a subtle jab. It may seem innocuous, but this creates distance and serves to other the person on the receiving end.

As a result, most of us operate with a governor. The drive to fit in and be liked by our tribe is core to human nature.

Unless we reflect and become aware of how these stories act as anchors and drag us backward as we reach for our dreams, we may continue to self-sabotage without even realizing it. ​​

So, I invite you to ponder: Does the narrative of “Rich people are evil” resonate with you?​

Have you been subconsciously capping your success to avoid upsetting the delicate balance of your relationships and self-image?

I encourage you to reflect on your money story and how it shapes your relationship with success.

If you’re ready to discover the subconscious patterns holding you back, consider joining the Unbreakable Wealth community. Here, we embark on a journey of self-discovery together, unraveling these narratives to foster a healthier, more empowering relationship with wealth.

To a future where we define success on our own terms,


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