How do you feel about money? Would you prefer not to talk about it? You are not alone. Money ranks right up there with religion, politics and sex as things we do not discuss in polite conversation. Even when it is discussed, the conversation is usually awkward. Most of us were taught not to talk about it. Plus, society has filled us with mixed messages. While many people will discuss the fight for “equal pay for equal work,” others also cast a high degree of shame or guilt on earning “too much.”
Researcher Brene Brown is well known for her work on shame and vulnerability. She says, “Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment.” By staying quiet, Brown says your shame will only grow. “It will creep into every corner and crevice of your life.”
Of course, the same is true of money shame. The more we hide or ignore our deepest feelings about money, the more power they have to harm our lives. Our unconscious beliefs or fears can limit our career and cause damage to our relationships. Most times, we aren’t even aware that it’s happening.
In order to release and heal our shame around money, it needs to be talked about. Of course, this may be easier said than done. Even Brene Brown might feel a bit queasy about revealing her fears about money.
Getting real about money feels about the same as discussing your most embarrassing sexual encounter, in public, or in front of your mother-in-law (I’m not sure which is worse). It’s just plain uncomfortable. The problem is that most people DO occasionally talk about sex with their closest friends, but they still do not talk about money.
We don’t discuss it nearly enough in business or career, which is the very place we earn it. We hesitate or avoid bringing up money concerns with our significant other, even though it is a well-known cause of conflict in relationships, and the number one reason for divorce. It’s rare for anyone to even share their financial struggles with their friends.
Money has been linked to the same area of the brain as our basic survival instincts. In caveman terms, what was once known as the hunter/gatherer role has been replaced by the pursuit of money. Therefore, in today’s society, we need money to survive, and when our survival feels threatened, our fight, flight or freeze reflexes can be activated.
When the instinctual (or reptilian) brain is in control, it’s common to trigger a variety of reactions. While one person may hide from their bank account and wish to be rescued, others may spend recklessly, hoard or be overly cautious, feel resentment towards others, or fear they will never have enough. Some even become tyrannical in nature, equating money with power and control.
It’s important to know that it’s not your fault. Most behavioral patterns around money are developed during childhood, and some are even inherited. Like DNA, every person’s money blueprint is unique. Everyone, regardless of economic status, carries some form of limiting belief in regard to money.
We need money to survive, and when our survival feels threatened — our fight, flight or freeze reflexes can be activated.
The good news is that your money blueprint is not set in stone. You do have the power to grow and transform your relationship with money.
Take these first steps:
The only way to improve your feelings and behavioral pattern around money, is to begin at the root. Once you are able to get to the root of the issue, you will be better equipped deactivate your instinctive and emotional response to money. From there, true transformation can begin.
It’s time to release the taboo and start the conversation. Money isn’t scary by itself. It’s a tool that adds value to life, and a a form of energy that, when allowed to flow, can elicit joy and create incredible experiences. Isn’t that worth talking about?