I spend some of my time helping people manage money. I have noticed a variety of attitudes to wealth, and each seems to have a consequence in terms of mental health. Here are the most common operating assumptions, along with their apparent consequences.
ASSUMPTION 1: WITHOUT MONEY, I AM NOTHING
Most people don’t actually say that, but that’s what many people seem to mean. Typical phrases include ‘I’m [insert age here], and what do I have to show for it?’ The implication is that everyone, by a certain age, should be in possession of a certain amount of demonstrable wealth. The consequence of this approach seems to be discontent, guilt, fear, and panic.
ASSUMPTION 2: THE WORLD OWES ME A MINIMUM INCOME
Again, most people who have this approach don’t openly say those words, but imply them. They get angry when their efforts don’t result in income that is satisfactory to them. They blame others for not recognising their worth. The consequence of this approach seems to be anger and bad relationships.
ASSUMPTION 4: EVERYTHING IS A NEGOTIATION
These people seem to understand that you usually can’t force other people to bring you resources. The consequence is that their relationships stay good, and they have a fair degree of protection from anger and resentment, remaining disciplined and calm.
What is my attitude to money?
Do I connect it to my self-esteem, and feel less of a person when my resources fall below a certain level?
Do I demand it from others, and get upset when I feel my worth or need is not recognised?
Can I develop a sense that my life is OK anyway, whatever I have or do not have? After all, we all have to give up our resources when we die.
Am I able to conduct reasonable, respectful negotiations when buying and selling things? Can I manage my money peacefully and gently, without prejudicing good social relations?
In short, instead of fighting for financial independence, can I attain mindful independence from finance? More than that, can I acknowledge that all financial negotiation is essentially a mutually-dependent relationship? Can I hold myself to high standards, and conduct those relationships with trust and respect?