Written by Cheryl Phillips
Personal finance. Budgeting. Savings. Expenses. For many people, these words and the concepts behind them trigger visceral, emotional reactions. Often, these reactions are explained away with “If I had more money, I wouldn’t feel so anxious about financial matters”. While increased income may ease some financial burdens, there is usually greater work to be done than just finding ways to make extra cash.
The good news: you can change your relationship with money. It doesn’t have to be a “necessary evil” in life. Paying bills doesn’t have to be a dreadful box to check off your to-do list. Improving your relationship with money is something that is often never given a second, or even a first, thought. However, learning the why behind our money decisions can be both empowering and helpful for cultivating a purposeful philosophy and strategy around finance.
Take a pause.
Take a breath.
Often, the act of speaking out loud about money is treated as a taboo, an unacceptable topic of discussion. Learning to be open and honest about your thoughts, worries, and celebrations around money opens the door to altering how we treat financial topics.
Part of the work to be done around healing your relationship with money begins by defining wealth on an individual level. While there seems to be a stereotypical vision of what wealth looks like, when you sit back and deeply consider what it means to you to be “wealthy”, you might be surprised by what you find. For some people, wealth and success are defined by a large house and a nice car. For others, it means being able to support and spend quality time with family. For others still, a life of wealth is one that brings peace, comfort, and deep connection. Learning to set goals that actually reflect your desires is a huge step in re-creating your money relationship.
It’s also important to recognize that each of us have both hard-wired and learned behaviors. This is true in all aspects of life, and that includes money matters. When we are feeling emotionally heightened, as many of us are prone to when discussing finances, our hard-wired behaviors have a tendency to take over. When this happens, our brains enter auto-pilot mode, and our decision-making process is skewed. We act in ways that feel like self-preservation in the moment, often avoiding the issue, becoming angry or defensive towards it, or minimizing the impact of it. However, in order to make decisions that promote longevity and practicality in financial decision making, it’s important to learn to recognize those hard-wired reactions and learned behaviors from childhood and take conscious steps to act in accordance with your goals and values.
Taking steps towards transparency around money, to define your goals, and to recognize your learned and hard-wired behaviors are all vital to improving your money relationship. Simply cultivating a loving awareness of your habits can be eye opening and inspire real change. If you are seeking a refreshing and new understanding of managing your financial life, start here.
The Purpose Center will soon be hosting a workshop on cultivating a healthy money relationship. Keep an eye out for further information.
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Recommended reading: The Art of Money by Bari Tessler