Is it All About Money?: The Power Relationship

By Guest Writers Brenda Smith & Paul D. Lyons

Statistics show that on the whole, the American relationship with money is dysfunctional.

More than 30% of Americans, or about 75 million, have no health insurance, making them financially vulnerable in the case of catastrophic illness.

The national savings rate in the U.S. is less than 4%, falling grossly below the double digit savings of most developed countries.

This has created what our government is now calling the "savings crisis"

Moreover, many Americans have a negative net worth and self-worth due to excessive debt and misuse of credit.

This is the American financial picture on the macro level. Viewing the challenge at the level of the individual, psychotherapists working with couples often see relationship and money problems intertwined. Understanding our relationship with money can reveal much about who we are.

Money and Who We Are

Money is an important symbol of agreement. We agree to exchange a huge variety of products and services for money, and we agree, with each transaction, on a perceived value of the product or service in question. Money represents perceived financial value.

Yet, in addition to paying the bills, many people expect money to provide comfort, happiness, and to lower the stress in their lives, as well as to make them feel powerful, secure, and loved. Others nobilize their lack of money in order to feel virtuous, minimalistic, or altruistic, often in connection with spiritual pursuits.

For many, money is seen as a substitute for or a means to reclaim lost parts of childhood. In short, our relationship with money reveals significant things about our mental health.

Understanding the inappropriate expectations we place on money, which are perhaps rooted in childhood, may help us to make more mindful decisions, to feel more fully alive, and ultimately to remove the blocks preventing money from coming freely into our lives. We increase our freedom and well-being by gaining insight into any of the following dynamics:

  • Using money to create a false sense of excitement and aliveness, thereby avoiding the risks of being genuine and affirming/loving ourselves and others.
  • Using money to avoid working through conflict and/or taking responsibility for our actions, instead of changing inappropriate behavior, setting clear boundaries and developing integrity.
  • Using money to insulate ourselves from fears of abandonment, intimacy and trust, instead of forming healthy dependent, independent, or interdependent relationships.
  • Exercising our wallets as a diversion from feeling powerless, instead of empowering our inner desires through mindful action.

Relationship to money can echo our relationship to time, inner journeys, love, creativity, right livelihood, physical energy and much more. How we handle money tells a great deal about how we perceive love, deal with personal challenges, or express creativity. How we relate to money can be a red flag questioning our trustworthiness.

If we are cavalier with money, for example, we may prove to be irresponsible with feelings, thoughts, promises, time management and possessions. Issues about money parallel issues concerning emotional boundaries with respect to excess, ownership and insecurity. Money truly can function as a mirror, showing us where we are healthy, and where we need to change.

Money as Energy

Energy, defined as "the ability to get work done", is the essence of money. Money, seen this way, is congealed energy which we can hold, use, give away, or receive. Money is a manifestation of energy that allows us to move our ideas and values into the world of form. Our human drama is to translate our creative world of thoughts and ideas into concrete reality. Money consummates the transaction between the metaphysical (ideas, inspiration, intentions) and the physical (workplace and home).

The non-manifest energy of thought (e.g. plans for a new business) requires increased energy (the congealed energy held within money) to have it materialize physically.

This is where plans often go awry and fizzle out. It is at this juncture, where the metaphysical energy of thoughts, feelings, ideas and inspiration seeks increased energy for manifestation, that our unresolved issues about money come up. That is, our fears, inhibitions, projections, and symbolic representations around money impede our clarity and forward movement.

It is here that dreams are thwarted or rerouted and creativity is suppressed. This happens when we see money as something other than what it is: a symbol of perceived financial value.

Manifesting Money

Some believe that not having money leads to spirituality, virtue, and simplicity. Although this may be true for some, spirituality and abundance need not be in conflict for anyone. In fact, too much or too little of anything can be problematic.

Spirituality can be nurtured with appropriate resources and opportunities to grow. Limited finances often deny us the possibilities that would support our soul's growth. Money cannot heal a wounded soul, psyche or ego. Money can lead, however, to security, opportunity and growth.

Money often becomes the object of compulsions and obsessions. It is a substance that can be abused and to which one can become addicted. It makes no difference whether we overspend or underspend, often we use money to feel differently about ourselves.

Like other addictions, it can be mind alternating!

Some interesting perspectives are: "An addiction is creative energy gone awry" and "When we find no outlet for our emotions, we direct our love toward an object (like money) because we have no other place to put it." Excessive spending, for example, can serve as a diversion from feeling powerless. Conversely, self denial or material scarcity is a reactive addiction. Money and food addiction go hand and hand. Underspending, like undereating, is a form of self denial preventing oneself from getting what one loves and needs.

Money and Self Worth

How we deal with money - spend, save, binge, avoid, gamble, deny - is often a reflection of our own self worth.

How we charge for our services or products reflects the value we think we provide to our client or customer. The confidence with which we ask for our value announces to the world what we believe we are worth.

The choice of what to charge for a product or service, when based on concern about external approval or disapproval (will people not buy or buy again because a charge is too high) is not productive or constructive. Decisions need to be based on what the market will bear and a fee that accurately reflects our positive self worth.

Think of why you might desire more money. What would it bring you? Security? Freedom? Love? If you continue to wait for these conditional benefits that money will bring, it's quite possible neither will materialize in this lifetime.

Instead of waiting, allow yourself to have what you think money will bring to you - security, love or freedom - and then, money will flow and the abundance will follow. Why? By allowing these things to manifest, you have removed the blocks to the flow of money.

Choice, Balance, & Personal Abundance

The goal is solvency, the return of choice, and balance in life! Prosperity and abundance belong to all of us. Love, success, and fulfillment are possible without coming at anyone else's expense

The wealth and grace of the universe you desire is there for you as it is for others. If you want something to come your way, support others in realizing their dreams. Whether it be money, right livelihood, recognition, mindful relationships, love or something else that another wants, with all your heart wish for them to dissolve their own barriers to what they desire, and you will be doing the same for yourself