"Money makes the world go round."
"Money is the root of all evil."
"Money doesn’t grow on trees."
There is no denying that we have complex relationships with money. It is needed to survive in this world and at the same time is no guarantee of survival. It establishes the haves and the have nots but does little to ensure a rich life. It defines status and yet says nothing about character. Our relationship to its complexity can take a lifetime to sort through and I’m still sorting.
Money has a lot of emotional charge for me even with my focus to diffuse it. On the one hand, I see it as a sign of security, a representation of success, and a tie to the dreams I have for me and my family. But on the other hand, it is a painful reminder of financial decisions that didn’t go well and opportunities or paths not taken. This duality is part of the work I have left to do in unraveling my relationship to it.
Money is Flow
I believe that money is flow. The more each of us grasp and try to hold on to it the less money there is ‘in play’. The slower the trickle or flow. The more money each of us spends freely, the more money there is making the world go round. A gush of abundance. We all play a part in this flow no matter how much money we have.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not an argument for thoughtless consumer behavior. Spending money on trivial items does not align with my beliefs. There are ramifications for mindless purchasing. What we need is flow not the disregard of our future or the environment. So this flow must include our values - thoughtful spending. And thoughtful spending includes money shared with others or donated to charities and nonprofits. Money needs to move but it needs to do so with integrity.
I will not get into the deep discussion about the economics behind money and flow. There are plenty of books about that. I want to share my own relationship to this flow and why sometimes I can pour it out like water and other times I am bottling it up as fast as I can.
Release, Uncertainty and Faith
From what I have learned, it all comes down to my perception of the future. When I feel certain that the future will provide, I can release money easily. When I feel uncertain about the future, I save like a miser. And probably you do too. And if we are all feeling uncertain, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy - we are all busy saving, reducing the money in flow, and therefore there is less to go around.
To release it even in times of uncertainty, I need faith. Faith in my family’s ability to make enough money to cover our needs. Faith in being creative, adaptive, and wise no matter what the world serves up. This faith has been fueled by the deliberate storing up of memories of our past ability to overcome. And this practice is usually enough...but there seems to be more to it than just faith.
Replacing Money's Representations
Beyond faith, I need to replace money’s powerful representations with something else. Money represents a few things for me - security, success, and the ability to achieve our dreams. I need to replace these with something else. If my security is not in my money, where will it come from instead? If my success is not represented by my money, what form does my achievement take instead? If my dreams are constrained by money, how can I dream dreams that can be fulfilled no matter my financial state? Finding these substitutions is something only I can do for me and you can do for you.
As I find my faith in the future and as I paint a strong picture of success and dreams beyond money, I get closer to being able to release money with more ease. But the work doesn’t stop there either. The decision to release it comes with the responsibility of releasing it with integrity and intention. At different times this what this means shifts for me. Sometimes I am called to share, sometimes I am called to invest in an opportunity such as my own education, and sometimes I am called to make a purchase to add to our daily living.
It is the thoughtful examination of the release of money that sends it out into the world with power and intention. How did I choose to share it, will the recipient be a steward of the money, and will they create impact? What opportunity did I invest in and how will I use this investment for our betterment? What item did I purchase, was it made sustainably, and will it add ease to our lives? When my money is released into the world with great intention behind it, it flows from me more easily.
My awareness of the complexity of my relationship to money has taught me that its release is controlled by three layers: my certainty in the future and my faith in our ability to adapt, my ability to define success, security, and dreams beyond money, and my careful examination of my intentions when I choose to release it. I am learning to master these layers because I must let it flow so that I can give it wings to not only bless me but bless others.