Money elicits different reactions from people. Some people’s mouths start watering, others twist their face into a cringe, many feel the distinct onset of fear.
Money is never just money. The paper and the digital numbers have always been symbolism for something much bigger. That’s why when that one guy asks, “why do you care so much about a piece of paper?” you want to hit him up the side of the head so hard his mala beads fall off.
Money is, in the most basic terms, an accepted payment for goods and services. It’s a form of value that you exchange. It’s often symbolic of labour you’ve output so you can input something into your life, from a new snazzy pair of shoes to the very structure sheltering you from the harsh elements.
How Money Shapes People’s Identity.
When you think of money as symbolic of your contribution to the greater community and as a recognized return, it makes sense that people attribute this currency to their identity. Someone with a lot of money may see themselves as productive, hard-working, and valuable for this reason, even if the work they’re doing isn’t objectively worthy for the greater good.
You could run a pipeline through a delicate landscape and be profitable as a result. The next consideration is: how beneficial was this act for everyone involved? Is this action valuable in itself for providing energy, or is it outweighed by the long-term environmental damage? Scamming people, living off of other people’s money, or winning the lottery, are other grey areas, where money itself may not be indicative of a person’s contribution.
The Power and Responsibility of Money.
Money grants people freedom and a sense of control over their circumstances. Certainly this is not applicable in all cases; the richest person on earth can still be touched by cancer or the death of a loved one and feel great, unavoidable suffering.
The first part of power is, the ability to do something or act in a particular way with agency. Having money gives you the agency to buy what you want, and having enough money can actually buy you free time.
The second part of power is, the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events. Having money allows you to hire people to provide a service. In this way, being financially secure can help flow money from yourself to others in a positive way. This of course, can also manifest as an abuse of power, and be used to manipulate, coerce, or blackmail.
Why Financial Stress Triggers Primal Fear.
Not having enough money is terrifying. Not having enough money in today’s societal structure is equivalent to the saber tooth tiger closing in on us. If we don’t have enough money, we can’t maintain a good quality of life, we can’t afford adequate shelter, we can’t access water, we can’t pay for food, and we can potentially die.
A parent or caretaker that’s responsible for another human being feels this pressure more intensely. They realize their ability to take care of this dependent person is also dependent on their ability to provide financial stability. Think about a protective mama bear defending her cub; survival brings out the claws.
The link between money and survival explains the ruthless attitude some people have in making or keeping their wealth. People try to fend for themselves and their survival so they can work, make that money, and survive. Ultimately, a fear of poverty is a fear of death.
How You Can Make Peace With Money.
If you think about money and feel stress, you aren’t afraid of money; you’re afraid of its implications. There is a way to reframe your concept of money to more readily create abundance in your life.
If you see money as a negative force, you’re going to repel it. If you discount the importance of money, you won’t want to work for it. Money is a powerful means for agency and when used tactfully, can bring peace and love to other people (including you).
For a long time I wrestled with the concept of money. I realize now, it wasn’t money I was dissatisfied with, but rather the misuse of money. I resented people who worked themselves into the ground thinking money would bring them happiness, I scoffed at the people that inflated their ego with their wallet, and I feared the stress associated with lack.
Making peace with money involves a number of important steps. To make peace with money you have to first:
- Accept that you are inherently worthy (with or without money);
- understand that money alone will never bring you peace and happiness;
- release your clinging to money; know that money flows like water;
- spend money mindfully;
- and feel comfortable accepting and earning money.
Reminder: You Die Worthy, Not Wealthy.
Death doesn’t discriminate between the rich or poor. The ultimate human delusion is thinking that we will never die. As you get close enough to feel the presence of death, you gain new insight into the importance of your attention to money. Don’t look back with regret over the power you gave to monetary currency. Money may allow for agency but it cannot improve your worth. You are inherently worthy, and when you die without your wallet, you will take this true value with you.
Determine what kind of relationship you have with money. Re-read the above five steps to make peace with money and challenge your current belief system around money’s value in your life. Set the intention to live mindfully with money without compromising your own worth.