Emotional Money Scripts
Bringing Consciousness to Our Money Issues
Kiplinger, the Personal Finance Company, famous for their Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and Kiplinger Letter, recently posted an article entitled “Your Worst Money Problems Are All In Your Head” by Ann Kates Smith. The premise of the article is that emotional baggage can sabotage your financial goals and then goes on to describe how that happens and gives examples. Just like eating disorders are not about food, she indicates money hang-ups are not about money, but rather about money beliefs, many of which we form in childhood. Our financial decicions end up being encoded into “money scripts” which become the motivators for our financial decisions. Many of these scripts are misguided, the most debilitating of these scripts have been put in the category of “disorders”. These scripts are usually those “laden” with emotion or from childhood trauma. The article indicates not all money scripts are harmful; some can actually be helpful such as “It’s important to save for a rainy day”. Scripts are divided into four categories including money worship, money avoidance, money status, and money vigilance.
The solution indicated is to rewrite these scripts, which can run the gamut from simply bringing awareness which is enough to change them for some, to working on the patterns that come to light. The article goes on to say that financial psychology doesn’t have to be just about overcoming obstacles, but facilitating financial wellness and enjoying life.
I was happy to see that awareness of our childhood conditioning, that impacts not only our belief systems, but also then the values we have which guide our life choices, is being brought into the financial sector. It is a first step, but in my view does not go far enough. The purpose seems to be to allow people to make better choices within the existing money system.
I have different view of the purpose of inquiring into our money beliefs. Below is what is what I say in the introduction to my book, Money•Spirituality•Consciousness:
Bringing increased attention to the development of consciousness in the middle of our money and worldly affairs is the doorway to our freedom from their dominance over us. And that freedom extends out to make a difference in the world. For if we each participate and take responsibility for our part in becoming conscious about the money in our lives, money can be restored to its true purpose—not as a measure of success, or intrinsic personal value, or as a way to collect fame and recognition, but as a tool of support for who each human being truly is and as a reflection of the legacy each of us can leave for the planet.
Further, I believe this inquiry into beliefs needs to be brought, not just to the individual level, but to the cultural level as well. Did you ever stop to wonder what the fundamental belief is that underlies our money system?
The belief system that underlies our current economic paradigm is that we are individuals competing for scarce resources- a belief that leads to fear and competition and a system that demands and has necessitated growth, even mindless growth ahead of our individual or society’s well-being.For example, we build 100 houses that no one wants – our Gross Domestic Product rises. We demolish these unwanted houses and our Gross Domestic Product rises. We produce millions of products whose life is only on average one year, and then we put them into the millions of cubic storage space or into landfills. This is considered growth. I just saw the amazing movie Samsara, where they have powerful images of the incredible production lines for consumer goods inside Chinese factories juxtaposed with images of mountains of discarded products. I don’t believe the current money system will bring financial well-being or the possibility of the enjoyment of life to the majority of the world’s citizens.
What if we had a different belief system- instead of scarcity, one of abundance and the prosperity of creation. Where competition is replaced by connection with others. Where the experience of enoughness can create a different money paradigm, one of sharing and cooperation. Both Lynn Twist and Charles Eisenstein speak so eloquently about this subject in their books, the Soul of Money and Sacred Economics.
Right now we measure our economy by GDP which only measures productivity and actually externalizes social costs – it makes someone else pay social costs. Imagine a world in which instead of GDP we had an integrative wealth index that includes measures of our health, education, employment, poverty gaps, and the environment. What if we had a new asset valuation model like total economic return, where we measure not just the return to the investor but to the whole ecosystem network. Making money in this way would add to the value of the whole and adhere to the spiritual principle of do no harm.
So, in my view, it is not enough to just change our consciousness around money, but we must also change our money system too through our money actions. That is what is possible if we bring the consciousness we gain from freeing ourselves from our money patterns into the world. We and the world are not separate, just as we are not separate from each other.
For a deeper look at the belief in ourselves as separate individuals and the impact on our money system separation, please view my post on Sacred Money.