Money is an emotion that needs mastering
How we feel about things tends to define how we interact with them
A change in our financial situation starts with a change in how we think about money. Clearing out the negative thoughts will remove the blockages that are preventing money from flowing to us.
Feelings of vulnerability, loss and fear of the future cause us to project them into other aspects of our lives.
It may sound strange to think that you have an ‘emotional relationship’ with something as practical as money, but it can be a highly effective way of understanding your feelings and behaviours.
In truth, we tend to have ‘emotional relationships’ with many things – with work, with sleep, with the sports team we support (believe me, I’m an Arsenal fan). As emotional beings, how we feel about things tends to define how we interact with them. Our feelings allow us to project our values onto subjects, and in doing so, understand how we relate to them as individuals.
The truth about money
The truth is that the problem isn't money. The problem is how we approach money, how we think about it and how we handle money. People who constantly think negatively about money, tend to be plagued by money problems their whole life.
People who believe that money is something within their control, are the ones who mostly become more successful and ultimately increase their money. Instead of complaining about the lack thereof, they educate themselves about money. Financial intelligence is the basis for growing wealth. There are multiple studies worldwide that have proven a direct correlation between increased financial literacy and increased financial success.
Emotional decision making
The process of reconciling what you know to be true in your head with irrational feelings is not easy. While emotions should not be ignored, and you should not deprive yourself of being guided by them to an extent, there are times when the numbers and your emotions won’t match up. Ask yourself this question:
Are your emotional attachments leading you to waste money on possessions you can’t bear to let go, or do you see everything for its monetary value alone?
You are NOT your things
If your emotional attachment to possessions has hindered you from making wise financial decisions, what do you do about it? Even as a personal finance expert, I constantly struggle with letting go of my ego and not be solely defined by my bank balance; to view my worth in more ways than money.
What I’m beginning to see is that if you start looking objectively at what you’re feeling and why, you’ll discover that your real problems aren’t tied to any one of your possessions. Feelings of vulnerability, loss and fear of the future cause us to project them into other aspects of our lives.
Start looking at your emotional attachments to things and make the effort to move past them. The idea is to express, as deeply as possible, the feelings you are acting out through your money. If you are afraid to do it alone, share the feelings with someone who can listen to your pain without getting involved emotionally. This is one of the roles of a financial planner – to listen to your money problems and provide an objective view.
By talking honestly about how you feel about money, what money means to you and taking the time to examine where these feelings might come from, you can begin to understand and define your money perspective. From there, you may be able to move towards informed decisions that take your perspective into account.
In time you may find you’re able to approach the practical issues – how to budget, which debt to prioritise, which investment accounts you need and so on – in a much calmer manner. Money is an emotion, learn to master it.
*Luthuli is an independent financial adviser and founder of Luthuli Capital.