Money is a major part of modern life. But through the years I have come to believe that our relationship with money is probably the most dysfunctional relationship in our lives. And what has further surprised me, is that in a country with as much abundance as the United States, the cultural undercurrent is actually one of scarcity, in which we never feel that what we have, is ever enough.
If given three wishes, most people would ask to be rich. But what is rich? And how much money is really enough in a culture based on never enough? The answer has more to do with our relationship and perception of money than it does about how much we have.
If you are like me, you were probably never properly taught about money – most people were not. And like me, you probably also have a painful personal experience about money – one which has followed you around your entire life until it nestled-in and became your perception of money.
About a decade ago I was having a conversation with a close friend who was working through her own personal financial crisis. As she culled through her finances she began to uncover tremendous hurt. She then realized that the hurt had manifested itself as debt and became the barrier which kept her from financial stability. Reflections to her childhood drew obvious conclusions which resulted in her painful emotions.
I listened closely but and did not consciously draw any correlations between her story and my own situation. But when it came time to speak my words were chocked by tears. At that moment I realized that the financial struggles of my parents had an enormous impact on me and that my father’s desperate attempts to rectify his financial predicament hurt me [us] in the process. And while his sense of entitlement might have given him justification for his actions, it left me feeling cheated and inadequate.
I discovered that money was great source of pain for me but like most painful childhood memories we can learn and we can heal. And through the years I have worked through these issues and have developed a healthier relationship with money. I learned to like and respect money and its power and began to understand how it works. And most importantly, through gratitude, I have developed belief and a sense of trust that no matter what happens in life, I will always have abundance. Today, among my three wishes is not the request to be rich, but rather a goal of financial freedom.