Have you ever noticed that when you move or travel somewhere where the currency is different from what you are used to, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to spend money? Some even joke that spending money abroad is like dealing with “paper money”. But if you stop and think about it, money is paper wherever you go, even in your own country. It’s a tool made out of paper or metal, a tool that helps us enjoy life.
Yet that’s not how our relationship with money is most of the time. More often than not we feel guilty about spending, anxious about having or not having money, and intimidated by talking about it. We give money a lot of power over us and our emotions. Did you know that in the Victorian era people spoke freely about money while they could not talk openly about sex? Yet in this day and age, where society is much more open-minded about most things, we avoid talking about money. Talking about it makes us uncomfortable. Why?
The answer to that question is very individual and it will depend on where and how you grew up. But, in general, most of us have surrounded our relationship with money with a lot of emotional baggage. Instead of making money a tool that it is intended to be, we’ve given it the power to intimidate us. So much of it, in fact, that we are afraid to explore our relationship with money and talk about it. Yet until we explore — until we know the context that we ourselves have created around money — we will continue to be powerless and intimidated when it comes to money.
The context created around money changes from culture to culture. That’s why we find our relationship with money ease when traveling, when we leave the realm where that context was created. Yet the tension about money comes back when you return and this tension often becomes the source of misunderstanding and fights.
How can you ease the tension? Look beyond the money. How? Ask yourself and those important in your life the following questions:
- What does money give you?
- What are you missing because of the lack of money or even an abundance of money?
- What’s important about money to you?
Look at the dreams behind the money. Look at values that are not being honored because of money.
In order to change your relationship with money and to bring back the true essence of money – a tool to settle transactions – you have to think of it in a positive light. For instance, instead of being bitter about how much your heating bill is, consider what it is giving you: a warm house to enjoy for you and your family. By paying this bill, you are valuing heat. Make the money part of your team to help you enjoy life, not your foe. And then, enjoy the friendship!
Some additional questions that can help clarify things:
- What are you honoring in your attitudes towards money?
- What are you rebelling against in your attitudes towards money?
- Where do you give in or override your values for the sake of money?
- What emotions are brought up in you because of money?
Written by: Cultural Business Consulting in collaboration with Margarita Gokun Silver