Friday, July 29, 2011

Our relationship with money - Part 1 Money and the Mind (new series)

My colleague Hennie and I started this blog looking to help ourselves and others build more balanced and successful lives.  

Hennie did a stellar job so far looking at ILP as an integrative model we may use to integrate our career selves with the other parts of our multifaceted lives. I considered Napoleon Hill's foundational self help book Think and Grow Rich seeking to discuss and develop a wealth mentality. 

As Hennie's work shows, times have changed and the many demands on people have only increased, this is sure to keep increasing.  One thing that has not changed is the reality of money. 

In my new series, I am going to investigate various issues surrounding the psychology of money.  Why the psychology of money? Because I think that money is something that obviously affects all of us. Love it, hate it, shun it or desire it; but money affects us in some way or another.

I recently came to realize that much of the complexities and problems we have surrounding money are emotional and psychological in nature. 

In Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill tells a story of an unemployed man walking through town.  The man has no money and no job. He is looking for work.  His shoulders are hunched, his eyes are downcast, and clearly, he is not happy nor confident.  He is an intelligent man, but the lack of money got to him.  His confidence is shaken.  He longingly looks through windows at those people with money enjoying food and drink in the restaurants. All would change, his spirit would lift, if the man "had but a little money"   

To say that money is not important for such a man is ridiculous.   
Economists tell us that money is a 'store of value', 'a medium of exchange' and a 'unit of account'. In reality money appears to be metal discs, plastic cards, or pieces of paper. Yet, psychologically money takes on a very powerful symbolic and emotional meaning, as we all know. It is so much more than copper, paper or plastic.   

Research shows that money issues are often, if not most often, found at the root of all marital conflict, 

Have you ever seen money making people behave strangely and even illogically? Have you ever questioned your own actions regarding money? (why exactly did I buy that thing I did not need so impulsively?).  

Most of us know of situations where money ruined good friendships, perhaps you even experienced that  yourself.    

People have done many atrocities for money, including thefts, robberies and murder.  And yet we can also use money to be charitable.     

Passages of scripture tell us that 'the love of money is the root of all [kinds of] evil' (1 Tim 6 verse 10). Yet, we cannot survive without money in the modern world. We have to live with it, and preferably we should rule over it.    

Part of the journey to financial wholeness,  I believe, involves us developing a healthy 'relationship' with money. This is what my new series of posts are going to look into.  

Problematic to the issue of money is that the topic of money is actually embedded with deep emotional issues.  In a thought provoking blog article Ron Haynes claims that Money is 100 Percent Emotional (follow the link to his article). 

An impending job loss tends to be incredibly terrifying.  Being deeply in debt tends to leave one feeling suffocated, hopeless and depressed. A failed business affects more than just your pocket, it reaches into issues of competence and self-worth. When a spouse overspends people often feel very angry. Money evokes a lot of emotion.  

In a 2009 research article, the authors Zhou, Vohs, and Baumeister argue that having money, as a social resource, increases one's general sense of confidence, efficacy and (psychological) strength.  

I agree that money is embedded with profound emotional issues.  Our 'money self' also seems to lie on the unconscious levels of the mind. Outside the area of reason. Our values, attitudes and beliefs regarding money develops from early developmental experiences. It seems that all of us develop different symbolic values we attach to money.   

Robert M Young, a psychologists, says it best: 
"My first point ... about the social construction of money is that our identities are inescapably forged in relation to whether or not our families have it and how they deal with it if they don't".   
This suggests that money plays a major role in the psychological construction of our identities.  In my next postings, I am going to expand on some more psychological issues regarding our relationship with money, we will be looking at topics such as
  • The psychological concepts of retention, security and power/prestige, related to money;
  • Different money personalities;
  • Money as a substitute - Midas and Tolkien's dragon;
  • Psychodynamic perspectives on money;
  • Money and happiness;
  • etc. 
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to add your comments and experiences on this complicated topic.

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