Before money was in the form of paper or coins, people traded goods of value such as cows, fish, rice, salt, weapons, and clothing. The value of money is what we put on it. While our government has decided the amount a piece of paper or coin is worth, individuals place an additional, intangible value on it based on upbringing and experience.
For many people, money has emotion attached to it. As children, we observe how our families react and interact with money, and we receive messages about how they perceive it, which forms our money “beliefs”. See if any of these sound familiar: Money is the root of all evil, troublesome, difficult to get, hard to keep. Having money equals power, control, happiness, security, and solves problems. Are any of these your beliefs?
Money is neither good nor bad; it’s neutral, simply a tool that we use for the exchange of goods and services. However, that is not how most of us perceive it.
Do you have an emotional charge about money? What are your feelings about wealth or lack of it? Does your perception of money change in different circumstances? Do you feel that your self worth fluctuates according to your bank account?
Here is an exercise that might clarify your perception of money and its potential for change:
- Visualize a pile of cash in front of you. How big is the pile? How does it make you feel?
- Substitute the cash with one of the examples of ancestral trade before money, like exotic spices or shells. Do you still have the same reaction to your alternate pile of wealth? Now, how do you feel about having more, giving some of it away, or saving it?
- If you feel more comfortable or less comfortable that your wealth isn’t money as we currently know it, examine why that is.
- Do your feelings about money support you? If not, ask yourself are you willing to examine those feelings about money and adjust your perspective to a more supportive position.
Consider what adjustments around money you could make in both the long and short term. Perhaps it is focusing more on where your money goes each month (budgeting, consulting a financial advisor) or perhaps focusing less (if you feel you control it too much). Maybe you could adopt a positive mantra on money and wealth to say throughout the day, such as: Money flows freely, easily, and abundantly to me.
While changes toward your desired view on money may not occur overnight, clarifying what your current views are is a significant step.