Money and Emotions: In the continued quest to Lose Control and to Gain Emotional Freedom, it is important to face our acquisition and possession compulsions. It is critical to face the emotional basis of this ceaseless yearning for “bigger, more better” stuff, and our preoccupation with financial wealth. As with almost all things that us humans do, our quest for financial and material accumulation is often based, at least in part, in emotional wounds incurred during our formative stages. Our insecurities that are born out of perceived threats to the formation of secure attachments to our primary caregivers (remember, we are not little sea turtles, see earlier post: https://www.mindfulexposurebook.com/wp/enter-attachment-theory-of-men-and-sea-turtles/ ). This primordial insecurity may create a craving to seek that which produces the illusion of security. Isn’t it interesting that we use the term “securities” to refer to financial assets. We have the “Securities and Exchange Commission”. We also use other relational and emotional terms such as “bonds” and “trusts”. Thus we confuse emotional and financial security. This begs the question, can securities buy us security?
Now while it is true that money can’t buy you happiness, research also indicates, that the stress arising from not being able to pay bills and have some savings can undermine happiness. Research also shows that individuals with excessive wealth, also exhibit diminished happiness. So, as with all things, balance and moderation is the key.
Sadly, our economy is built around the prospect of continual growth at a national level. Thus, we have generated a consumer driven economy and thus we are constantly driven to buy and accumulate wealth and stuff. As Christmas approaches, this becomes increasingly evident. So a holiday to celebrate the birth of a spiritual renunciant who preached in loincloths and offered such quotes as ” a rich man has much chance of getting to paradise as a camel does of passing through the eye of a needle”, is celebrated through rampant materialism. And now as developing nations, such as India and China are experiencing an increase in personal wealth, the inhabitants of those countries are closing in on American levels of personal consumption, accelerating the threats to environmental stability and climate change. Research indicates that if the entire world lived like Americans and Europeans, the world would quickly become uninhabitable. And so the very survival of our species requires a complete overhaul in our view and approach to collecting stuff.
So, how can we address the developmental fears, shames, and insecurities that force us into the “land of the hungry ghosts”, constantly striving to quench the unslakable hunger. Well, of course, I hope by now, for those who have been following this blog, the answer is obvious: we must directly embrace these primordial hurts. If one recalls, the feeling of “not enough” is evidence of personal shame ( https://www.mindfulexposurebook.com/wp/vampire-hunting-naming-shame/ ). Thus, finding, naming and embracing shame will be of paramount importance in many cases. Fears of loss, abandonment and rejection are also primary drives that compel acquisition compulsions. We can use Implosion ( https://www.mindfulexposurebook.com/wp/fear-exposure-implosion-therapy/ ) and/or Emotional Surfing ( https://www.mindfulexposurebook.com/wp/emotional-surfing-2/ ).
Some Other Tips for mindful money and stuff management:
1) Make a list of financial objectives, short and long term. Try to ascertain how much of this is based on rational judgement and how much is based on fear, external expectation, shame and so on.
2)When making decisions to purchase stuff, try to distinguish between needs and wants. I would argue that few things are truly needs. To help yourself with this, consider how this purchase will affect and impact others in addition to yourself. With this in mind, you may be dissuaded from buying that Hummer:)
3) Learn to embrace your fears, and shames regarding not having enough money or stuff using the aforementioned approaches.
4)What emotions motivate shopping. Do you go shopping to relieve pain? Do you do it as a means of self reward and self congratulations? What would you feel if you resisted the urge?
5) Learn about socially responsible investing strategies so that your investments are more likely to help or at least minimize harm to others in terms of social, environmental and other policies of corporations you may be investing in.
6) When giving money or gifts (e.g. charities etc.), is it born out of guilt? Is it accompanied by some anxiousness and second guessing or a genuine desire to help and spread joy?
7)During this Christmas season, keep in mind, that most likely, the meaning and impact of our lives will be more measured by what we leave than what we get.
Please leave a gift of your thoughts, comments, personal experiences, questions, objections to help make this a more interactive blog experience for all.