Money and Stress: Do They Have to Go Hand in Hand?

coins and paper moneyFew topics of conversation tend to provoke more stress than money and financial issues. From an early age, we are taught that talking about our finances is taboo and somehow shameful. The majority of people would never dream of confessing to others how much they earn, unless their income is really something to brag about. Couples are apt to argue more about their cash flow and where their money gets spent than about any other issue. For many people, thoughts about money consume much of their time: “How can I generate more of it?” “Can I really afford my car payment?” “How will I pay off my credit card bills?”

The media also constantly feed us a message of scarcity. We hear about unemployment rates, the struggling economy, inflation, and the high cost of living. We are continually competing with one another for fear that there is not enough to go around. Many people live from paycheck to paycheck, with “shortages” and “lack” making up a big part of their daily vocabulary, and yet never before have we lived in such a world of abundance.

So where do such deep-seated beliefs come from? Our feelings around money are often closely intertwined with our own sense of self-worth. The lower our self-esteem, the less we feel that we deserve a life of abundance. On a deep level, most people believe that they are unworthy of living the life they truly desire and therefore settle for an ordinary life, although they may dream of someday hitting the jackpot or winning the lottery. Often they fear that they would be criticized or ridiculed if they truly put themselves in the spotlight by following their inner calling and becoming a light for others to follow. Another common fear is failure, so many spend their lives regretting what could have been, if only they had taken a chance and tried. “Better safe than sorry” tends to be a common motto in today’s society.

Our relationship with money is tenuous at best. We say we desire more of it, yet we perpetuate the notion of lack rather than visualizing the possibility of prosperity. We fear that we may become corrupt if we become rich instead of considering all the good we could do in the world if we were wealthy. We hold onto our funds as tightly as possible, saving up for a rainy day, when we could be putting it to better use by investing in our future.

So how do we go about changing our love-hate relationship with money and begin to open ourselves to a life of abundance instead? First and foremost, we need to stop perpetuating the notion of scarcity by constantly dwelling on that which we feel we are lacking. A better approach is to start focusing on all that we are grateful for and to bring our awareness instead to all of the abundance that already exists in our lives: the air we breathe, our amazing bodies, our families and friends, and the beauty of nature all around us. Try making a gratitude list of your own and thinking of at least one new thing to be thankful for every day.

Another way to reduce your stress about money and begin to expand your wealth consciousness is to become more conscientious about the vocabulary that you use. Start to notice how many times during the day you are speaking or thinking of lack: “My paycheck is spent before I even get it.” “I’ll never be able to afford that.” “I don’t have enough to invest in the things I need.” After taking note for a couple of days, try to change your thoughts and words to a more positive outlook: “I earn enough to cover all of my expenses.” “The universe provides for all of my needs.” “I am attracting wealth into my life.” Start to visualize the life that you would like to attract, imagining every detail of what it would look like and how wonderful it would make you feel.

Please note that this is not about denying your current monetary situation or turning a blind eye to any debt that you may have incurred. In fact, you may need to sit down and come up with a budget to determine your actual monthly expenditures to help relieve any stress that you may be dealing with. As money tends to be such a delicate subject, many people just try to ignore it and are therefore totally unaware of their expenses, which can create very stressful situations. Finding ways to cut back and live within one’s means can be a first step to dealing with money in a healthier way.

As money is closely connected with our sense of self-worth, working to improve your self-esteem can also help to improve your relationship with money. Some ways in which this can be done is by means of a spiritual or meditation practice, by uncovering your underlying beliefs and challenging them, or by working with a therapist to help heal your inner wounds.

Choosing to transform our relationship with money begins by learning to count our blessings for all that we already have and changing the stories that we tell others and ourselves on a daily basis. When we start to convey a more expansive tale of prosperity, rather than one of scarcity and lack, we begin to attract greater wealth into our lives. We then come to realize that we are the creators of our own universe and that it is up to us to manifest the life of abundance that we truly desire.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Wendy Salazar, MFT, therapist in San Diego, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • lester

    January 16th, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    A huge stepping stone for me came when I was actually able to redefine what I thought being prosperous was.

    Of course there was a time when I thought that it was all about the house, the cars, and the money in the bank. I thought very little about the other blessings and gifts in my life. But that is where our real riches lie. And it is when you realize that, this is when you let go of the stress that has always strangled you when it comes to how you feel about money and the power that you have allowed it to have over you for life.

  • Brian

    January 17th, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Aren’t financial disagreements generally the number one reason for divorce?

  • Wilson

    January 18th, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Money, or the lack thereof I should say, is what always has caused me the most stress in my life and I don’t see any reason why that will ever change.

    I guess I am and will always be the proverbial “starving artist” but I like my lifestyle far more that I think that I would like the things that a traditional day job would afford me so I grin and bear it I suppose.

    I know that there are always those in my life who say that they would like to say that they would love me to do more with what I have been given but this feels like real living to me even when I am stressed about the next meal and bills There is always going to be a trade off and I suppose that for me I have chosen.

  • norris

    January 20th, 2014 at 5:02 AM

    I don’t think that they HAVE to go hand in hand but generally I think that they do.

  • Garrett

    January 21st, 2014 at 3:53 AM

    For most of us I think that a lot of the stresss boils down to the fact that we are not given very savvy money managing skills from a young age. This could be because this is not taught in school or because we did not have great role models at home when it came to maney matter, but no matter the cause it can bring serious consequences for many. So money mismanagement can bring many a whole lot of headaches no matter whether you have a ton of money or you are just barely scraping by. It is something that can effect all of us in an adverse way.

  • nurse shannon

    January 22nd, 2014 at 3:48 AM

    When it gets really tough is when you don’t want money to have such control over your life, but then you look around and see just how many of your current problems could probably be resolved if you had a little bit extra and it is hard to not want to have a little more to throw at those nagging problems.

  • Larry

    January 24th, 2014 at 3:55 AM

    Of all of the fights my wife and I have ever had I think that at least half of them have boiled down to money or something to do with finances. When I think about that I have to pause for a minute because it seems like such a shallow thing to fight about but in the end it does have a powerful role in our lives. Thank goodness she and I have always been able to come to some type of resolution before it escalated too much but yes, the arguments have been there and they are no fun.

  • anne

    January 27th, 2014 at 3:48 AM

    Thank you so much for publishing this positive outlook on money and how to turn our thoughts about money into something that is positive.
    I have always thought about attracting positive people into my life, good life experiences, but I haven’t ever thought that I could probably do the same thing with money if I would simply think that way about it too.
    I always pay my bills, stuff like that, but there never seems to be anything extra, even though logically I know that there should be.
    Maybe if I start to think this through a little more and become as proactive about financial things as I am about other aspects in my life then I will have a much healthier financial future than what I am currently setting myself up for.

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