An Intimate Relationship With Money

By Michael Kramer

Intimacy is not typically something people associate with their money.  In fact, money often triggers an opposite feeling such as the fear of inadequacy, obsession with its accumulation, or the disgust of materialism or greed. Indeed, it is because money has such an emotional charge for most people that it is one of the most intimate relationships we have.

Some of the characteristics of intimacy – closeness, involvement, familiarity, belonging – reflect the truth about our interaction with money. After all, it is typically something we think about and use nearly every day. How people feel about this relationship varies, however, based on one’s life experience in generating, saving, spending, and investing it, as well as how we see it at use in the world. For some, money connotes feelings of despair, frustration, and injustice, while for others it fosters excitement, gratitude, and abundance. Two points are worth consideration here:

  1. Money itself is values-neutral; and
  2. money reflects who we are and our individual and social priorities.

People can sometimes be very angry about the ways in which money is used, particularly in our society. In truth, it can be used to exploit people and the environment, its relentless pursuit can sacrifice our humanity, and it can steer policy away from the public interest. There are wealth inequities, price gauging, and profiteering from violations of basic human rights such as health, liberty, and clean air and water.

But money doesn’t have any value other than what we choose to ascribe to it, and every day people make choices about whether or not to use money as a tool to create the type of reality they wish to see in their own lives and in the world. In other words, rather than being victimized by the power of money, some people see money as something to use to manifest dreams. 

For many Americans who live beyond their means through debt, it’s easy to associate money with stress. For those who see life as survival-of-the-fittest and compare their own financial capacity to those who have more can easily create feelings of inadequacy or jealousy, or even anger at how those with significant resources may use their economic power to intentionally or unintentionally cause harm. 

The first step to empowering yourself in relationship to money is to stop comparing yourself to what others are doing. These inner judgments are very self-destructive. You are where you are, be at peace with that.  It doesn’t mean you have to let go of goals, it just means be accepting of your current situation, as it reflects you doing the best you can right now. This is the beginning of loving yourself regardless of how much you make or save or what kinds of material items you possess. None of that matters. Happiness has little to do with money. 

This is why it’s important to look at your life and make sure that the way in which money is coming into your life is supportive of who you are as a person. There are many ways to make money, it matters if you are happy with how you are making it. Engaging in activities which bring in cash without much satisfaction makes us a slave to the work and the dollar and does not connect us to our personal power. Search your soul, do what you love, and you will feel better about the role of money in your life.

Consciously examining your spending habits is another way to get to know your financial patterns.   Decide if the things you spend your money on contribute to your health and the well-being of those around you.  Do you buy biodegradable or plastic items, take classes or buy cigarettes, or buy from or invest in conscious companies or those which exploit their employees, communities, and environment? Once you look at everything you buy, you begin to see that every choice you make is a reflection of your values, and this is an incredibly powerful realization. You may never shop the same way again. You may also see the value of limiting your needs even if your income goes up; after all, it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you don’t spend that determines savings.

When looking at your budget priorities, consider paying yourself first, which means treat your long-term financial picture as a priority budget item and put some percentage of your monthly income aside in savings or an IRA.  Keep at least enough savings to cover 6 months of living expenses in case of emergency. Don’t treat your savings as a luxury.

Choose to use money to regenerate your body, mind, heart, and soul. You can use it to heal yourself and those around you. Use it to help those in need, to change capitalism and politics, and to preserve the natural resources of the planet. You can even make money and make a difference simultaneously through socially responsible investing.

A shift in consciousness may be required to live life from this stance. “It’s never enough” messages are replaced by ones that say, “Be at peace with where I am”. Nevertheless, another important approach is to set financial goals and specific annual strategies to attain them, even while being simultaneously unattached to whether or not they manifest. They may be more likely to manifest if you are fully “intentionalizing” your desires, but sometimes things inside yourself have to shift in order to remove the external obstacles to the accumulation of abundance.  Because abundance is a state of being and not a dollar value, wealth simply may not accumulate until you are ready for it.

These approaches contribute in part to the development of a more loving inner relationship to financial matters. There are poor people who feel content, and wealthy people who feel dissatisfied, so perception of your circumstances and clarifying your values can facilitate a powerful transformation in deepening an intimate relationship to your money.

Contact Michael to discuss this topic.

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