Money is a neutral medium of exchange, having neither a positive nor a negative charge. Yet, our thoughts and feelings about money, and the impact it has on our lives, are far from neutral. Collectively and individually, we tend to imbue money with near-transcendental qualities and powers. Our sense of well-being, control, comfort, security, even self-esteem, is often defined by the balance in our bank accounts.
If money itself is neutral, why are our perceptions, attitudes, beliefs and feelings about it so charged? How is it that small pieces of paper and metal have come to hold such power over our well-being or lack thereof? And how, if at all, can we reclaim that power? Is it just the lucky few who are somehow destined to have a fulfilling relationship with money?
In Wired for Wealth: Change the Money Mindsets That Keep You Trapped and Unleash Your Wealth Potential, Brad Klontz, Ted Klontz and Rick Kahler, explain that we all have “money scripts,” or subconscious beliefs about money, that affect our financial well-being and drive our financial decision-making. According to them, we don’t question the accuracy of these money scripts. Nor do we examine the degree to which they are true and work for us, yet we continue to act on them as if they were entirely true. We follow them blindly, even when they no longer fit our circumstances and even when they cause pain in our lives. Because we have no idea of the beliefs behind our money choices, we might blame our financial difficulties and pain on other people and external circumstances, locking ourselves into a cycle of financial stress and self-destructive behaviors, feeling victimized and powerless.
Similarly, George Kinder has “never encountered a money dilemma in a client, friend, or student where some misguided belief system didn’t lie right at the root of the problem.” In The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life, Kinder states: “By learning to let go of our stories around money, we can accomplish whatever we want to, and we can experience the ease and freedom we have always desired.” How do we let go of or our stories around money? The first step is to learn what they are!
Understanding our past and present money scripts is merely the starting point of creating a fulfilling relationship with money. The process continues as we explore our values, goals and dreams, and begin to consciously create a healthy financial foundation that is aligned with our integrity and desires. As is the case in so many other areas of life, with awareness and focus, we can gain control of our financial well-being rather than allowing money to have power over us.