Money is an omnipresent force in our lives. We all need it to survive yet give little thought to what it means to us. There are so many conflicting cultural belief systems around money it’s hard to decipher what’s real and what’s not.
We’ve all heard or uttered the phrases:
Money makes the world go round Money is the root of all evil Money doesn’t grow on trees
These kinds of attitudes can be toxic and shape the way that we behave and interact around money. We all know people who love to make money and do so effortlessly as well as people those who say it doesn’t matter to them and continually struggle to pay their bills.
So what shapes us our belief systems and how do we change them?
Start at the beginning
Unsurprisingly our first experiences impact heavily on the trajectory of our lives. As my parents divorced when I was young I was brought up with two conflicting views around money. My father is incredibly generous and the only thing he loves more that earning money is spending it. My mother on the other hand is a staunch anti materialist who cares deeply about inequality so rarely spends it.
This made an interesting set up for my beliefs around money and so my early adulthood was a yo-yo of extremes. On the one hand I knew it felt good to earn and spend it but on the other I felt guilty for doing so. I managed to attract money easily but was in constant debt because deep down I believed it was greedy to have money when there are others who needed it more.
This is a common issue around money with its root in scarcity. We believe money will run out (remember ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’) and are often made to believe there isn’t enough for everyone. Yet when the financial markets crashed what actually happened is the government simply printed more and bailed out those that were irresponsible with it.
Throw out what we know
We need to move from the understanding of money as a physical asset to what it has become — an intangible and limitless energy. In the same way that love and time are energies that behave as we expect them to, so does money. If we believe we will be eternally single or time scarce then that’s what will be. If we expect to only have enough money to survive then we will never strive for anything different?
I realised quickly that feeling guilt or greed for having money as others don’t is counterintuitive as how can I help them if I didn’t have it? Making ourselves small will never help others feel good. If someone is sick or lacking in love I would never conceive of becoming sick or lonely to help them, so why is it different with money?
Now is the time
Currently we live in the worst global inequality there has ever been and it’s no wonder with all these conflicting stories around money. To publicly admit that we desire lots of money is frowned upon yet our media, habits and social systems are based around it.
So what better time to address our relationship with money and de-stigmatise it. By looking closely at our own individual behaviour around money and taking responsibility for it we can create quick and transformative results.
How do you behave with money? Are you the type of person who always buys a round but feels cheated afterwards? Or do you feel guilt as you can’t reciprocate when others are being generous?
We all have a different relationship with money in personal and social situations but are rarely honest about why that is, even with ourselves. Yet it’s this kind of toxic money guilt can keep us in invisible patterns for years, driven by belief systems that we are barely conscious of.
Money can mean all kinds of things to different people. Freedom or restriction, security or danger, it’s often a source of pleasure as well as pain.
What does money mean to you? What would be healthier to believe?
As we get truthful about our relationship with money and connect with why we want to attract it we begin to release the stigma and dream bigger and more authentically than ever before. And when we can do this on an individual level big shifts start to happen and the changes at a collective level are never far away.
Originally published for Thrive Global https://journal.thriveglobal.com/money-magic-3cf0e124921e