As long as I can remember, I have worried about money.
As a kid, I was aware of the dire financial circumstances my parents were in for many years of my childhood. I saw the stress and tension it caused. Anxiety about money seeped into my small mind, took up residence, and has seemingly never left.
To this day, how I see money and finances is often through the eyes of a younger me – unpredictable, fleeting and the source of much worry.
Although circumstances have obviously changed, and as an adult , I have never faced the lack of money my parents did , although my mismanagement of funds led me down a path of debt , I am still often plagued by money related worries.
A HUGE reason for me to rid myself of this debt was to also attempt to rid myself of anxiety. But it occurred to me the other day that eliminating debt may not necessarily resolve this anxiety based issue I have towards money – although it will certainly help!
Looking deeper, I tried to think of words to sum up the general, unspecific worries I have about money. And this is what came into my mind:
‘I need to have enough money to be safe’
How much is enough, and what exactly is ‘safe’? I feel like this stems from the very basic thoughts I had as a child and I worried when I saw how a lack of money could make things very uncertain. People could take things from you if you didn’t pay bills. More money would help people calm down. Less money made people upset.
I had no way to help financially as a child. And yet I just wanted to make everything ‘safe and happy’ with ‘enough money’
I finished reading a very interesting book recently called ‘How to worry less about money’ by John Armstrong.
The book basically looks at the difference between money troubles (ie, inability to pay bills, dire financial circumstances, debt etc) and money worries, and , to quote the book “worries are about what is going on in your head, not just your bank account. Worries are connected with emotion, not just what is happening here and now”
The book explores the idea that “addressing money worries should be quite different to dealing with money troubles. To address our worries we have to give attention to the pattern of thinking (ideology) and to the scheme of values (culture) as these are played out in our own individual, private existences”
I have a very emotional relationship with money, which I believe stems from a place where, as a child, I felt money’had the ‘upper hand’ and my life, and that of my family , seemed to be at it’s mercy.
Obviously, as a child I wasn’t aware that correct financial management can put you in control, and make money a tool to work for you, not against you.
So, I guess in taking control of debt, I’m also learning a new attitude towards money. Understanding how my personal relationship with money has been shaped over the years by my own experiences can perhaps lead to some re-shaping, re-thinking and in turn, less worry.
Debt AND worry free? Well, anything is possible!