One thing that may surprise you is that I spend a fair amount of time contemplating and reading about money. Maybe you’re thinking, oh, so she’s into investing and budgeting and The Wall Street Journal. Well, I was an Accounting major in college, so, yes, I do know my way around an income statement, and some of my time goes to those surface topics.
But what I’m really curious about and what I love to dig into is actually the psychological way we interact with money.
For example, I’m fascinated by the way we can:
feel that we don’t ever have enough money, regardless of our income level,
believe that achieving a financial goal will ‘fix us’ or finally make us happy,
use money (that we often don’t have) to manipulate and numb our emotions with shopping, and
assume that a bank account has the power to protect us from life’s misfortunes.
What’s going on here!?!?
Here’s my understanding.
Money is a neutral entity.
However, the beliefs we have about money can be hyper charged. The meaning we ascribe to having money or not having money can be more influential to our feelings of well-being than the true ramifications that money has in our lives.
I’m curious, what do you make money mean? And how do you tie money to its sister subjects: security, self worth, and prestige? And, since I’m a career coach, how is your mindset about money impacting your career choices? (Okay, those were largely meant to be rhetorical. There are some more specific questions that I’d like you to answer in a minute.)
If you are like most people your beliefs about money are ever present, but off to the side. You may not be consciously aware of what they are.
Here’s an abbreviated version of an exercise in Maggie Craddock’s book, The Authentic Career, that will help you to bring your own money beliefs out of the wings.
1. What were your mother’s attitudes about money? How did she handle money?
2. Did your mother feel that your family was financially comfortable when you were growing up, or was she anxious about finances?
3. How did your mother’s relationship with money affect her quality of life?
4. What values did your mother instill in you concerning money?
5. Repeat questions 1-4 substituting ‘father’ for ‘mother’.
Just being aware of some of your money beliefs may be eye opening and sufficient. The next step is to try to clean up any beliefs that aren’t serving you well today.
Look through your inherited money beliefs, and note which ones feel stressful, if any.
For example, if I’m walking around with the belief, ‘There’s never enough’, then the emotion that I will correspondingly feel will be lack. Notice how the amount of money I have is not in the equation here. It’s the story I tell about my finances that makes a big impact on how I feel.
Run through the following questions, from Byron Katie’s The Work, about one of the stressful beliefs you picked.
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe this thought?
4. Who would you be without this thought?
Next, look for an opposite to the original thought.
Find three examples of how this new thought could be true or has been true in your life. Finding examples helps this new thought to carry more weight in your mind. It will hopefully move you to a less stressful place.
Please leave a comment below! Did you identify any hidden money beliefs? Were you able to question these thoughts and move to a more peaceful place? I’d love to hear your thoughts!