Money Matters #2 The Metaphors of Money
Have you ever wondered why money impacts us, all of us, so greatly?
Why it’s so darned important, whether we have it, or - maybe especially - if we don’t?
And why the stuck areas of our lives seem to be reflected in our money?
In our world, on the entire planet, there has been an unconscious agreement, for the last 2000 years of so, to use money as a medium of exchange. This system is in place and we’re born into it, like it or not, even the most spiritual of us. (Sorry.)
But it’s not as simple as ‘money is money’ or ‘you work, you get paid’.
Nope, money has underlying metaphors which we pick up consciously or subconsciously from our family, our community and society, our ‘tribe’.
Let’s look at five areas of our money and the hidden metaphors – what each one really represents or symbolizes - and the effect that they have on our thoughts and our emotions, and ultimately the way we act in the world, especially when it comes to our money and our careers.
The first area is our savings.
Just as the word suggests, they are all about safety, about ‘keeping the wolf from the door’. With savings in our bank account (or under our mattress!) we can move into a level of freedom that can’t be experienced if we are stuck in the fear, the disappointment, even the loss, that we feel when we don’t have that cushion, that buffer, between being safe and being in a very precarious situation.
Thoughts like ‘It’s not enough’ create a fear response in our body – heart pounding, a pit in our stomach – every time we look at our savings account, or even when we just think about them, maybe multiple times a day.
We have a similar response to the second area – debt.
Debt is also about safety, but, when we are experiencing it, it has an added layer of shame and guilt, and a deep sense of ‘not good enough’. We have self-punishing thoughts such as ‘I deserve to suffer for getting myself into this mess.’
Every time we think about our debt our nervous system goes into ‘fight or flight’, triggering sweaty palms, a racing heart, paralysis...and we stop thinking clearly. Definitely not the best place to operate from if we are trying to take decisions and actions to get ourselves out of debt.
The third category, income, has two metaphors.
First of all it is about survival, about literally putting bread on the table, but it is also, in our money oriented society, about self-value. Our income represents our worth and how much we rate our time, our efforts, our contribution and our experience. It is all about our status and ultimately our power, and how much power we allow ourselves in the world.
When our income is ‘not enough’ we feel fear, anxiety, a lot of self-doubt and sadness.
And we say to ourselves – or see it reflected back in our bank statements - ‘I’m not valuable’, ‘My time isn’t worth much’ or, ‘I don’t deserve…’
On the plus side, when we are happy with our income, we thrive, we feel proud of our efforts and deserving of the good things that we can afford for ourselves and our loved ones.
The next area is income goals - those numbers you set for yourself to determine your greater value in the future.
So this area is also a metaphor for self-worth, and also for trust. Trust, in yourself and your abilities, and trust in other people and even the Universe. Believing the statement: ‘Ask and I shall be given’.
When we have doubt of our own value we are too embarrassed or humble to even ask. We avoid setting goals, we don’t even do so within the privacy of our own minds, let alone declare them out loud. Instead we are beset with thoughts of ‘I’m going to fail’, ‘Who am I to…?’ and ‘I definitely don’t deserve…’
And we feel a lot of sadness and frustration and a sense of ‘this isn’t fair’ and anger at the system or things and people outside ourselves.
The final category is what Margaret M. Lynch, of Tapping into Wealth, calls Toxic Money.
This is money which you depend on for survival, but which comes with a very high emotional price tag – maybe a battle around alimony or some other kind of settlement, inheritance claim or something similar.
Luckily not everyone has it, but if you do, you’ll know all about it, suffering emotions such as anger, guilt and shame. It typically has a disastrous effect on the relationships involved, and even your ability to earn and make money, while you are stuck in the fight for ‘getting what’s rightfully yours’.