Relationship with Money

From the time we’re born, life can seem like a race to figure out how to get, earn, or save money. Pressing the limits of our emotions, money can dictate our sense of security and of self-worth and play an outsized role in relationships. While many tout the adage “money can’t buy happiness,” research has overwhelmingly proven that food, housing, and resource insecurity can have serious, lasting physical and mental health effects from a young age. Fortunately, many good resources exist to help us unravel our deep-seated beliefs about money while learning how to get a handle on it in our own way.

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An Introduction to Relationship with Money

What do we think about when we think about our relationship with money? The details will be different for everyone, but some of the more common questions people ask themselves about money include:

  • Do I have enough?
  • Am I earning enough?
  • How can I get more?
  • Do I enjoy doing what I do for a living?
  • How would my life change if I had more money? 

Can we ever have enough money?

Themes of lack and scarcity often arise when people contemplate their relationship with money; it seems that no matter how much money one has, the desire to have more is a constant across income and wealth levels. Someone in the grips of financial instability, struggling to put food on the table, may be able to live another day if someone gifts them twenty dollars. Someone working for twenty dollars an hour would certainly feel a big boost in purchasing power if their hourly wage were doubled. And someone working for forty dollars an hour would most likely appreciate a pay increase of any size.

If the scale of financial empowerment has an upper limit, it’s one most of us will never see. Someone worth two million dollars gains far more options if a few key investments go well and their net worth shoots up to twenty million dollars. A person worth half a billion dollars may still be driven by the urge to become a billionaire. And so on. Regardless of bank account balances, an orientation toward thinking of any amount as still not being enough is quite common. Consciously or unconsciously, many of us are always striving for more, whether that means just having a roof over one’s head or buying beachfront property near the ocean of one’s choosing. 

But if we approach our financial pursuits with thoughts of not having, as opposed to thinking that more money is something we are in the process of attaining, or that we will always have enough money for any situation we find ourselves in, we’ve already introduced self-limiting beliefs that get in the way of us getting what we want. It’s the difference between anxiously thinking, “I hope I don’t mess up,” and confidently embodying the knowing of “I got this!”

How do we have a good relationship with money?

One of the keys to building and maintaining wealth is taking the time to reflect on just how we got to be where we are. Once we gain a better understanding of how our assumptions about what it means to be wealthy were formed, we stand a better chance of charting and successfully following a financial course for where we want to go.

Best-selling author and motivational speaker Brendon Burchard believes that some of the messages we get about having a lot of money, such as “it’s lonely at the top,” undermine our ability to get to a place of financial abundance. “You’ve got to redefine what wealth would mean for you specifically,” Burchard said, “not what the culture told you.” 

Self-reflection practices can be helpful when we want to get a better handle on money issues. A good first step is to read—or reread—how the dictionary defines money. According to Merriam-Webster, money is “something generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, or a means of payment.” In other words, the amount of money we have is a pretty reliable indicator of our power to acquire material items and a key ingredient in our freedom to pursue the kind of life we want to live.

That is not to say we can’t be perfectly happy without a lot of money; not at all. It just gives us a framework for conceptualizing money primarily as a means of getting what we want, not the thing itself. The distinction can be important, especially for those who get to a place where they know what they want and take the steps to align their energy and focus with the process of manifesting their desires.

How can we heal our relationship with money?

Our orientation toward and ideas about money are rarely as simple as they may seem at first glance. Through unconscious social conditioning, family dynamics, and a jumble of conflicting ideas about what it means to be wealthy, we can face substantial roadblocks without even knowing they exist.  For example, it may seem obvious that access to education is a factor in how much we can earn, but do we also allow ourselves to see possibilities outside what may appear to be the obvious solution? How many of us really take to heart the idea that we could be successful entrepreneurs—with or without a college degree? 

Regardless of the specific approach one takes to a relationship with money, having faith that a better financial reality is possible is crucial. In his 1937 masterwork Think and Grow Rich, author Napoleon Hill referenced these words by poet Jessie Rittenhouse about how people’s beliefs about money hold great influence over what manifests in their lives: “I worked for a menial’s hire / only to learn, dismayed / That any wage I had asked of Life / Life would have willingly paid.”

The poet’s wisdom doesn’t magically put more money in our pockets, but it can go a long way toward sparking ideas and creativity in our imaginations. In turn, these new ways of thinking can serve as a basis for transforming our ideas about money and welcoming more of it into our lives. 

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