The Psychology of Money
This is a guest post from Cara, a personal development coach and the founder of Carajaz Coaching. With money issues, Cara works with people to find and resolve the root cause so that old thoughts about money no longer hold them back from the prosperity that they desire. An old post that I wrote “Cats in the Cradle, Money and Family” inspired this article as Cara believes that in addition to people inheriting their money beliefs, some also use money as a way to deal with inner feelings.
Money is a far more emotional topic than many people would believe. What causes the most arguments between couples? What do people long for, and work very hard for? What do we often blame our unhappiness on? (“If I only had the money, I could take that cruise, buy that house, vacation in….”) How do we feel when we don’t have money? For many of us, it’s very painful not to have money, and for a few of us, it’s also painful to have money. Just think of the fear that can come up when one thinks, “What if I lose it all?”
Money is really a symbol. It’s used as a universal exchange, and it certainly has simplified things since the days of barter. Our feelings about money are often about survival and fear. What if we secretly fear that we don’t deserve to have money? Think that thought would unconsciously sabotage our success? You’re right – whatever we believe about ourselves, we will find (often unconscious) ways to prove that we are right. Perhaps you took on a really risky investment and now wonder why you did it? It might have been your unconscious mind directing you to an investment that will sure that you don’t have the money – because, after all, reasons your unconscious mind, you don’t deserve it.
What about the thought that rich people are mean and miserable? You’d be surprised how many people think rich people are dishonest and unhappy – remember the saying, “Money can’t buy happiness”? This is an example of a conflicting belief – most of us feel we would be much happier with money, as we could buy all that we needed or wanted, but if at the same time, you are feeling that rich people are miserable and mean, who really wants to be miserable and mean? Imagine what this unconscious inner conflict does to your good judgment when choosing stocks for your portfolio!
Think about it – money is so necessary for survival and for having a wonderful life – so widely handled and so woven into our lives – that it is easy to use money to punish yourself, to prove that you are “not worth much”; and more. It can be used to prove that you really are ‘too stupid to ever succeed’ or to put yourself into a state of self-loathing (think ‘compulsive spender’ suffering the torments of guilt). Think about the person who burns through everything they have and is always one step away from bankruptcy no matter how much they make – this person is probably using money so that they can express the same feelings they had as a child. It’s the old feelings that account for the sometimes crazy ways people deal with money.
Perhaps the feelings might be ‘always under pressure’ or ‘never going to be good enough’ or some other self-defeating set of feelings. What negative feelings do you have about money? In what ways could those feelings be holding you back from financial success?