“I am not interested in money, but the things of which money is the symbol” Henry FordTake a moment to consider what the cash in your pocket or bank account mean to you: security, freedom, self-worth, independence? Or something a little less comfortable like power, prestige, or control. Whatever it means for you, there is opportunity for self-reflection here on our deeply held beliefs about money. For many years I had a sturdy belief that I would always ‘have enough’. It is a rather passive attitude, and that was reflected in me accepting whatever work offers came my way. Later, as I began to challenge that belief, I started to pick and choose when offered training classes which I found dull, or very short-term work from organisations to work with clients which I felt didn’t give the chance to get to the root of a problem. Essentially I began to say ‘no’ to work which didn’t feed my soul. My income started to go up and down more which also challenged my sense of security. Money can give a sense of safety, or it can symbolise fear through not having enough.
Relationship Problems and MoneyIn 2012, Sonya Britt lead a big piece of research about relationship breakdown. She and her team found that arguing about money was the top predictor of divorce. Essentially, when money represents different things to people, there is potential for conflict. For example, John feels secure and valuable with money in the bank. His partner Julie wants to express her love for friends and family by making purchases for them, or cash help. After all, they have plenty in the bank. You can see where the financial symbol of ‘money in the bank’ has different meanings for John and Julie. You can also imagine how stressful the attitude of the other is to each of them. Unless they can talk this through, make allowances for both of their needs, and come to a mutual agreement of some kind, this situation is likely to result in plenty of arguments and even the breakdown of a loving relationship.
Self-EsteemCaroline Myss, a medical intuitive, writes about how we often have a toxic relationship between spirituality and finances. If we are looking at health and healing (which you are by reading this magazine), with all it’s spiritual connection, this toxicity can be magnified. Our anxiety about earning, and fear that it separates us from spiritual development can keep us in a child-like position, hoping that we will be magically provided for, that we don’t have to touch the ‘filthy lucre’ directly. A bit like my passive position above. What do you imagine that does to your self-esteem? It becomes conditional. We feel we can be one thing or the other – spiritually deeply connected or financially comfortable. That one-sided perspective creates judegement against those who have both, and our esteem sinks further as judgement is a step further away from spirituality.
Giving and ReceivingDeepak Chopra helped me get my head around the symbolism of money in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. The second law in this book is that of Giving… and Receiving. Most of us feel good about giving and helping out, practically or financially, when we are able. What we tend to feel less good about is receiving such help. This is a real clue to an imbalance in relationships. I often find people in my therapy room who are resourceful, capable and helpful friends and family members. The problems start setting in when they need support themselves but instead carry on giving. In fact it can be counterproductive to have that imbalance of always being the giver. The law of giving and receiving recognises that money is a symbol of energy, that ‘currency’ means to run or to flow. This doesn’t necessarily mean cash has to exchange hands, but value, recognition, exchange of some sort, and money is just one symbol of that. For us all to grow up and into our potential there has to be exchange. While money is, of itself, neutral, the meaning we imbue it with is not. Eventually I realised how I held onto things which did not serve me well from fear rather than security.
How is your relationship with money?
What does it mean for you?
How is it affecting your relationships?