It wasn’t until this year that I began to understand my dysfunctional relationship with money, and I have stopped blaming money for my emotional hang-ups.
Recently, online someone asked, “If you have limiting beliefs around money, where do you think they came from?”
For me, my parents complained about money and responded that we couldn’t afford the things I wanted. I didn’t grow up destitute by any means and nor was I deprived of the things I wanted. Many times, I did receive everything on my Christmas list or get the thing I wanted.
But, the immediate response was that we couldn’t afford it or a complaint about bills.
It stuck with me.
My relationship to money became one of always feeling desperate and deprived. Feeling like there wasn’t enough money for the things I wanted, only the things I needed. And, having this view of money or the absence of money as a barrier to my desires. Basically, there was no joy in our interactions, only negative feelings.
Money is necessary to live and to basically do anything along the lines of enjoying life so I would begrudgingly handle my money.
I had no idea how I felt about my money affected how much money I received and also my behavior in my relationships.
Despite my negative view, it didn’t stop me from earning money. I had a view of myself that I deserved a certain lifestyle and whatever money it took to achieve that lifestyle.
But, I would gripe at paying my bills. I felt annoyed and burdened by balancing my budget. I would bounce back and forth between depriving myself and overindulging. One week, I would save and the next week, I would “treat” myself to things I didn’t need to feel better about having to save money the previous week.
For many years, I was teetering on the edge of disaster, but you would never know to look at me because I looked like I had everything together.
I dreaded looking in my bank account or at my credit score. I knew what it meant to be fiscally responsible, but I didn’t associate that with my money. Money to me was this thing that I treated like an annoying lover. I needed it, but I didn’t make it feel needed. I made it feel tolerated.
The beginning of the change of my relationship with money was to live with someone who had a worse relationship. He actually scared me into being more aware of what I was doing with money.
If I wasn’t careful, we would both be out on our asses.
So, I began to redefine my relationship with money and I became appreciative when all the bills were paid. I felt comfort in it and I felt blessed to have the money we needed to survive. Turning a light switch on felt like winning the lottery. And, when we could indulge in the extras, I did it thoughtfully and we both enjoyed it.
I also learned how to get free things that we would normally have to pay for. This also taught me the value of the dollar. We put in sweat equity to get the thing for free. I didn’t realize that before, I was thoughtlessly enjoying things without having to jump through whatever hoops necessary to get the same thing for free.
Money pays for your ease and convenience. Money pays for your relaxation. Money gives you time back because you don’t have to do as much planning. Money isn’t a barrier, but an ally in everything you want to do.
I read something once that said something along the lines of, money exists so you don’t have to think.
I thought about how much mental energy I expended worrying about how to get something to work when I don’t have the money. I understood what he meant. When you expect things to work out financially, you focus on the logistics of doing it and not how or whether you can make it happen.
Lack of money forces you to say, no. The resentment of saying no to yourself all the time because of lack of money can poison all your other relationships.
Whatever it is that you feel about your money whether it is anxious, fearful, angry or apathetic, when an intimate partner seeks to engage with you regarding money, they will experience this version of you. You project these negative feelings onto them as the asker of your money growth.
If you are fearful of losing your money, you may be suspicious of all their requests or even convince yourself that they are with you to waste your money. And, it will translate to how you treat them and respond to their wants and needs related to money. You may even become controlling about how they spend their money or angry at what you perceive as them “wasting” money.
You may either try to control the money or not try to be in control at all. You may lie about spending or having money to avoid the other person triggering your money anxiety. You may sabotage your efforts to earn money. You can burn through any money you receive if you feel uncomfortable or undeserving. You can hoard money to the point of strangling your partner with rules and questions about why they need money. If you are constantly loaning, borrowing money or incur debts, it will affect your relationship.
There are many ways to abuse a relationship with money especially when both partners have competing priorities or ideas about money. If your relationship with money is unhealthy, it will infect your relationship with others, even family members.
I don’t believe money is what ends relationships. I believe how you handle and see your money is what can make or break a relationship, and how you handle your money is dictated by your emotional relationship to it.
If your relationship with money isn’t a romance, you will spend your life fighting it and trying to make it love you in return. But, what you should really do is look at all the barriers within you that prevent you from loving it because it already wants your love and gratitude.
What’s your money story? Start there. It will tell you everything you need to know.
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