How to Be at Ease Spending Money:
Understanding Your Money Emotions
ShoomKloom Editorial Staff
This morning, all of a sudden, I fancied going to town. And immediately they popped up – old money emotions.
It goes like this (in circles) in my head:
If I take the bus it will cost me 5 Euros to go to town and return. I could also walk one way and save half of the money. But that would be a pain in the …
Or, I could just take the bus both ways and have an easy and relaxed time.
What to do?
Our Thoughts and Emotions Around Money
When you read the above you might think it has nothing to do with you. Possibly it is an outrageous example.
You might simply just take the bus and not even think about it twice.
But check it out with yourself. Maybe you can relate to one of the following:
- Do you buy the meal you really want or the cheaper one?
- Do you book the big saver all inclusive vacation or the 5 star you are dreaming of?
- Do you shop for the brand name or the generic one?
- Do you buy deals (because they are cheap) even though you do not really need any of it?
- Do you continuously count your money in your head?
- Do you buy the big coffee or small coffee?
- Do you prepare your food at home to take with you on a trip or eat at a restaurant?
- Do you spend money on a ‘big expense’ right away or save and wait for a while?
- Do you have loads of money in your account for a rainy day which never comes?
Suddenly my friend (living in the same house) told me that she might drive to town.
Here I have another option. And an idea of getting a free ride. But she wasn’t sure yet.
What are money emotions?
Money emotions such as greed and fear determine our lives. Even if we are not aware of it.
Money seems to be a matter of life and death. We believe that we cannot survive without money.
Money emotions such as anger, shame, panic and depression are influencing your mind, stress level, spending habits and overall happiness level 24/7.
The reason for all of this is that our brain is hardwired for survival – independent of an actual threat being there or not. The brain calculates nonstop – in trying to figure out solutions to imaginary problems (most of the time). It imagines worst case scenarios so that it can continue to offer us its constant ideas.
These ideas of the brain is what we call thoughts. When we repeat the same thoughts over and over again to ourselves, we call them worries.
The brain thinks (or is it you?) that it has to ensure your (money) survival right now – in this very moment. That is how it gives rise to money worries.
Just have a look. Even when you are not working or performing another act to ensure your money supply – you are still busy with it.
We might sit and have a coffee with a friend. How long does it take until the external or internal conversation touches upon money? Directly or indirectly.
Is it true that we will not survive without money?
Greed and fear – the main money emotions – can show in many different ways. Besides the obvious ones such as anger, anxiety/panic, shame and depression there is resentfulness, guilt, acting out a “poor me story” or staying small – just to name a view.
Do you know any of the following?
- I just change my plan a little bit to save some money
- In truth I am upset that I did not do my original plan and settle for less instead
- I wait for later with what I actually want to buy right now so I can get it on sale
- In truth I am upset because I think I can’t do what I want (because I am not rich)
- I am not at ease with spending bits here and there
- In truth I get resentful that I have less than others
- I actually have enough money
- In truth it still bothers me to spend it and I feel guilty for having more than others
- I get anxious thinking about spending money
- In truth I think there might not be enough coming in and I will ‘run out and die of hunger’
Things We Learned from our Parents about Money
Your childhood scripts are lingering on into your daily life as an adult.
Just to get a quick idea – answer a couple of questions to yourself :
- Do you invite your friend for coffee or do you wait to be invited?
- Do you wait for someone else to pay first?
- Do you offer to pay for a parking ticket if you just drive along?
- Do you expect to be invited in return?
- Do you share what you just bought?
Can you see that your actions – how you behave in money matters – are not free from your upbringing?
You might act the same as your parents do. Or you might just do the opposite. Maybe you found a middle ground. You even might dearly believe that how you behave with money is your own choice.
One belief is that if we are nice about money we will come in last. We may be viewed as a generous person but underneath we fear that ‘We will never really make it with money.’
We might think that being generous and having no money do not come together.
What if being generous in itself is already being rich?
I have always been busy with money. Money for me is deeply connected with survival. My whole childhood and youth I was prepared by my parents to make a good income. I am thankful for that. I am capable to use it all when needed and take care of myself.
But even though I always had enough I have never been fully at ease. Not when I had 20,000 Euros in my bank account. And not when I had 20 Euros in my pocket.
What is money really?
I am suggesting that there is not one true answer to the question: What is money?
What do you think the following people would say?
- the government in your country
- the peasant in China
- the biz owner
- the Indian Yogi
- someone receiving pension or government aid
- the lobbyist of an industry
- someone living on and working for minimum wage
- the conspiracy theory person
- a priest
- the person with an average income
- the homeless
- the president of the federal reserve
- someone who just inherited
Most probably we would get very different answers. Some of us think money is the most important means to be happy. Others think it is just an energy and deny that money buys the pizza. Just to name two extremes.
So what most of us do is try to make it (money) work the best we can. Depending on the stories we have heard (and we would not call them stories but truth) and keep telling to ourselves.
But here are the questions:
Are we not fully in the dark about money?
Is our judgement and ability to see it for what it really is not clouded by ongoing money emotions?
How on earth then can it be possible to be free and at ease with money?
The way we can bring more light into this money business is by truly investigating for ourselves into our money emotions and beliefs.
3 Steps to Start Freeing Your Money Emotions
#1: Inquire into your thoughts connected with money
When you see a repetitive habitual thought – such as counting your money again – simply recognize the thought at first. Once you have done so, practise to discontinue this thought.
Do not think another thought, a positive or better one, just stop thinking it. This will increase your capacity of not following each ‘money thought’ which shows up.
For sure you need to count the money when you receive your change back in the store or making an excel sheet of your budget and expenses. These thoughts are real in that moment and needed for you in your practical life.
What I suggest to discontinue, are the money thoughts popping up when you are busy doing something else. You might be sitting in the train or taking a shower.
Right then and there, there is absolutely no need to think about money – but instead look at the scenery or enjoy the hot water.
#2: Inquire into your sensations connected with money
Sensations arise all the time in our lives – mostly without us even noticing. Watch which sensations are arising when you are busy spending money, saving money, counting money or thinking about money. You may ask yourself the following questions:
Is there a sensation in my tummy?
Is there tension in my chest?
Is there a buzzing in my head?
Is there a coldness in my hands?
These are just some questions to get you started, by far not exclusive. You might experience the same or totally different sensations in your body.
The important thing is for you to simply notice them to start with.
#3: Inquire into your emotions connected with money
When you have money thoughts and sensations you will immediately have a money emotion arising with it.
At first it might need a bit of practise to recognize the difference between a thought, a sensation and an emotion. The reason is that all of this happens within just moments and we have not trained to register these ‘things’.
Do not be concerned about that.
You may ask yourself the following questions in those moments:
Am I fearful?
Is there a fear of not having enough or losing the money you have?
Am I greedy?
Do you want more and more money even you have enough for now?
Am I angry?
Are you upset that others have more, work less, inherited or for whatever reason?
Am I sad?
Do you feel you don’t deserve to struggle with money and get depressed over it?
While inquiring into your money emotions – as you have done with your sensations and thoughts – you will learn a lot about your patterns.
Your will recognize the ideas you have about money. And you will get to know your patterns of behavior in regards to money.
That is the most important step. I will tell you more in our next money emotions blog.