Monday, August 8, 2011

Is Your Unconscious Keeping You Poor? Money and the Soul Part 3

Welcome back to our blog! This is our third posting about the psychology of money. A very fitting topic indeed, this has been a troublesome month.  

News about the US debt ceiling crisis circulated the globe.  Many individuals have considered the real possibility of the collapse of the US Dollar and yet another implosion of the global economy.

Anxiety, uncertainty and panic seem to linger just below the surface of the western world's collective unconscious, just another testimony to money affecting our lives in very real ways.  

My previous posts showed psychological money issues as complex. For this posting I want to delve deeper into the reality of limiting and destructive money behaviours and beliefs. Many of us, perhaps all of us, to some degree have developed self-limiting and self-destructive money beliefs, attitudes, and emotions.

Let’s call these negative mental programming about money for simplicity's sake.  That also requires a mention of mental schemas and scripts about money.  We’ll look into that a bit later.  Firstly we must recognize the importance of childhood experiences with money.    

Childhood Money Experiences

The psychological researchers, Paul Klontz and Brad Klontz propose that our beliefs about money are developed during childhood, passed from generation to generation along family lines, usually settle in the unconscious, and drive much of our financial behaviour.  

Linking to this, psychologists, such as Harry S Sullivan and Sigmund Freud have also proposed that experiences during childhood are crucial determinants of our personality and behaviours later in life.  

Clinicians will tell us that childhood money experiences are often negative and may involve lots of anxiety. Seeing your parents fight over money may cause one to develop pervasive negative feelings and beliefs about money (this is indeed a possibility, since money issues are a prevalent cause of marital conflict). Regular exposure to money related conflict,  certainly will affect your perspective on money later in life.  

Sullivan's insight tells us that experiences with anxiety seems to leave lasting imprints on the unconscious mind.   Such imprints often settle on a sub-verbal and unconscious level in the mind.  That suggests that childhood anxiety about money makes the topic hard to address later in life.   

In a person, this may manifest as inexplicable anxiety surrounding money topics, which may be mixed with (mal)adaptive behaviours, and other ego defense mechanisms, used to protect the soul from anxiety associated with money.

Often this may take the form of avoidance behaviour, or, perhaps, an unrealistic fascination with money, where one may perceive ‘more money’ as the symbol of freedom from unconscious money related anxiety (note that I am only speculating here).   

Klontz and Klontz seem to agree with the idea of ‘financial flashpoint experiences’ that leaves lasting impressions and money beliefs in our minds. 

Thinking about my own life, it is easy to recall some very bad experiences with money and the negative money beliefs these shaped in my thinking and behaviours around money. 

Personally, I love and hate money.  I hate the sense that it controls so much of our lives, but I also like it, like the benefits and good things money can do and bring.    

It seems that we pick up ideas about life, the world, and money, during childhood.  Such beliefs become deeply rooted in the soul and we may not even be aware of them. 

The Money Autopilot
Many of us are living with our “money autopilot” fully engaged.  Meaning we are automatically living out the money scripts and ideas that were shaped during childhood. 

Klontz and Klontz define money scripts as internalized and often unconscious thoughts about what money is (and what we believe it can do for us).  

From a psychological perspective a script refers to a series of (programmed) behaviours we follow in specific situations.  This forms part of mental schemas – collections of associated information, emotions, behaviours surrounding a topic. 

We all follow our money schemas and money scripts to guide our money behaviours. Yet, these scripts and schemas are not always beneficial to our psychological health.    

Without some form of intervention, we tend to live out childhood scripts in ways that make them stronger (in self-fulfilling ways). Such scrips are often unconscious.   

If we are unable to align our behavioural scripts with the laws of money (a topic for another time), we will surely not be able to accumulate wealth and financial wholeness. 

So, yes I do think that one's unconscious can keep you poor. Since our (unconscious) money behaviours and beliefs are mostly on autopilot, we will cruise to a predictable destination, that is until we decide to change our beliefs and behaviours.

Again, I am suggesting the need for the cultivation of a balanced perspective on money. To achieve this we have to consider the relevance of our money scripts, schemas and behaviours. Let’s look into that in the next posting.

Thank you for reading, I welcome your feedback and personal insight on this topic.       

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