Money has become a taboo topic – it is very uncomfortable for most people to talk about. It’s even more uncomfortable to talk about than feelings, relationships or even our intimate love lives. I was talking to a colleague and she started explaining that she works in the public sector because money is not a motivating factor for her. She freely acknowledged that she would work in the private sector if she wanted to make more money. How many of us have heard the same thing? It is almost a moral high ground, a position of “I’m better than you and if you are driven by getting a bigger paycheck, it’s because you are ‘greedy.’”
I do believe many of us work in the public sector to make a difference but I don’t think there should be a correlation between how much you make and the amazing things you can do for the public good. I think our relationship with money should be serendipitous and seen as something positive that can help us do all the beautiful things we want to accomplish. There is plenty of literature out there about money shaming and the root causes that lead you to it. This is not one of those articles. This is my quick summary of suggestions to my friends who want to build a better relationship with money:
- We all need money. When you say you are not motivated by money, I don’t think that’s possible. No matter what you want in life: buying a house, fixing up a car, vacationing with family, climbing Kilimanjaro, etc. – you need money. So let’s stop kidding ourselves that we don’t need money and worse, by saying we are happy without money. When you acknowledge that you need money to do amazing things, you will find that it holds a lot less power over you.
- Forgive and forget. Like all relationships, it doesn’t matter how money has treated you in the past or how you were burned by it. If you want to have a better relationship, we have to learn to forget the past and forgive how you were treated related to money. Think of it as growing forward together.
- Keep up the positive affirmations. One of my favorite ways to get over a feeling or relationship is to affirm myself through the repetition of a mantra. In this case, I would suggest something along the lines of “I love money and everything that it allows me to do”.
- Despite how I’ve personified money up to this point in this article, stop treating money as an entity. I find that we tend to perceive money as something all powerful with a life of its own. We give it a personality that is evil or greedy or needy or fun, etc. We give it life. If we can step back and acknowledge that it is not an entity but a tool to accomplish a goal, I find that will help you feel better about your financial situation.
A few final thoughts about money.
Define your true feelings about money. Does it control you or do you have a practical view of its importance in your life? Remember, if you find you need more money, put yourself on a strict budget or find a way to make more money. I find that you will always end up in the same situation if your views about money don’t change.
When it comes to money, your happiness or unhappiness comes down to behavior and feelings. If you don’t acknowledge the way you feel about money and wonder why you are happy or unhappy, well…that’s just madness. So let’s start acknowledging our feelings toward money by taking steps to heal by making the relationship more harmonious. What is your relationship with money? Do you find yourself engaged in self-shaming about money? What are your tips? Let me know in the comments below.
Lekshmy Sankar is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.