The Power of Financial Beliefs.
Over the last decade of personal exploration, I’ve discovered a common thread between disciples of formalized religious institutions and the more self-directed, less structured approach to spirituality that many Guided Synergy readers are living. That common thread is a general belief that financial wealth, success and prosperity are somehow an impediment or barrier to goodness, happiness or salvation. This speaks to the vast power of our beliefs.
I deeply believe that money is not in conflict with enlightenment. Almost any form of energy can be used in service of light or of darkness. Since money is essentially energy, the way that one obtains, manages, stewards and distributes it is the decisive factor. The intention behind any act determines its nobility.
Along with the fear of death, the fear of poverty is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools to control people. Many of us were raised with a fear of poverty, and we can see those deep fears playing out locally and globally. While love supports unity, equality and balance, fear usually promotes separation, inequality and disquieting imbalance. With few exceptions, those in positions of power and influence have understood and leveraged this human frailty for their own benefit throughout history.
Given most people’s insecurities about money, is it any wonder that having more financial wealth than those around us might spark feelings of superiority that seek to numb our other insecurities? Or perhaps when we have less money than others, it triggers our own fears of being “less than” and we find ourselves feeling or even expressing thoughts of jealousy or moral superiority to cover up how bad we allow ourselves to feel.
Money and its trappings have an almost mystical ability to act as the arbiter of our perceptions of self-worthiness. If we allow it to, money can make us feel like we are more than or less than someone else, rather than having more than or less than someone else. This can lead to numbing behaviours such as the abuse of credit, legal and illegal substances, sex and technology, and even busyness. Unfortunately, when we numb the negative feelings we also numb the positive ones.
In my nearly twenty years in the financial industry, I’ve witnessed how much power people give to their money, to their relative wealth and to the hyperactive machinations of the financial markets, and how this effects them. Some people choose not to give away their emotional power to money and hire advisers to create a disciplined structure and to manage its daily complexities. For these families who seek a professional partnership, things invariably seem to work out well—there is flow.
However, the majority of those I’ve met over the years have struggled with the power they’ve given away. They’ve allowed money to determine how they feel about themselves and, thus, about their happiness. The normal volatile behaviour of investments activates deeply engrained fears of poverty; instead of remaining disciplined and focused during a crisis, people give in to negative feelings and take actions that are destructive to their clearly stated goals. This is essentially giving away power to fear, in this case to fears around money.
My professional experience has taught me that most people within the financial industry are oblivious to the spiritual significance of money, wealth and abundance. They sincerely try to help their customers, but are still asleep with respect to the intimate interconnections of wealth, health and happiness.
Witnessing the effects of both healthy and unhealthy beliefs around money is the catalyst for my biggest professional project: my first book. Given where the world is economically, politically and spiritually, it’s the right time to integrate the wisdom of experts in human behaviour, broader economic and political cycles and the spiritual significance of money. It’s time to build a bridge between the emotional, spiritual and practical aspects of money. Perhaps you can help.
How does your money make you feel? This is the essential question that we all should ask and answer in the context of our lives. If you are willing to share your personal experiences and perceptions on this important question, I’d love to hear from you. Your feedback will be kept strictly confidential. I would also appreciate any suggestions for research sources that you believe might be helpful. I am grateful for your assistance.
Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM, is the founder of Integrated Wealth Management in Calgary. The IWM team focuses on providing effective and mindful wealth-management solutions to optimistic and successful individuals, families, trusts and endowments—while being lighthearted! For more information, visit http://integratedwealthmanagement.ca/mindful-wealth-managementby