It would be fairly difficult to imagine a world without money. Yet, money has not always been around. Its exponential growth and acceptance has only been due to its powerful emotional connection to our deepest fears and our deepest hopes. These fears and hopes are ingrained into the very fabric of modern society. It is essentially what allows money to keep its doors open for business.
An Emotional Dance
To understand how money works and why it dominates our personal lives so much, we must first delve into our emotional connection to it. At a basic level we are governed by the laws of fear and pleasure. Fear is absolutely crucial to our survival as it keeps us alert and protects our well-being. Pleasure is an attraction that makes us feel good, creates inspiration and allows for peace-of-mind. An easy way to paint this picture is that fear allows us to run away from danger and pleasure allows us to run toward a reward. We are in a continuous cycle of holding onto our money when we are in fear and over-spending when the fear is gone. Our need to have it all and prevent it from being taken away from us has led to crime, alcoholism, gambling addiction, massive debt and depression. Our mismanagement of money is a leading cause of divorce, which often ends in bitter disputes over assets in court. We are trying to dance a dance, but don't know the steps.
Fear is what keeps you alive so it must be respected. It maintains the preservation of life. However, when it comes to money, fear can become a problem if our emotions to money and fear are not correctly managed. With that being said, to keep a calm head in a modern society is not easy and can get to the best of us. The government, media and large corporations are notorious for spreading fear in order to gain power and financial wealth. On a daily basis we are bombarded by fear driven news that are broadcast on the hour, every hour by the news on all major radio stations. We now have dedicated news channels that run 24 hours around the clock. Newspapers wait to greet you at many traffic lights, street poles and shop entrances. Social media is in a constant process of sending the latest news from around the world. In a fear driven society, one is able to manipulate and re-direct attention to where one desires it to go.
The question to ask then is, "Does this affect my relationship with money?" Damn straight it does! The greatest marketing trick is to make you believe the choice to spend your money on a product or service was your decision and therefore not influenced by an outside source. Insurance companies have nailed this bit of marketing art. Fear mentality is not always about life and death when it comes to spending your money. Scarcity is another very smart fear driven persuasion technique. Shopping centre's thrive and survive on the idea of "Buy it now before its gone!"
The fear of missing out is another one that is beautifully demonstrated by a company like Apple and its cult-like following. The paradox of a modern person is the need to be an individual and at the same time to fit in. Apple addresses both these needs in one fell swoop. Your individuality shines by cool gimmicks you can do on Your phone and you are able to fit in with a unique group of fellow Apple lovers.
Aaahh.... Pleasure! Now that feels good! Pleasure is a great commodity if it is balanced. When unbalanced, we will fall into the trap of over-spending. We will also be able to justify our spending as a need, as apposed to a want. Big difference! Maturity develops when you can acknowledge the difference between the two and act accordingly. We do not need to look very hard to find the pursuit of pleasure. Beauty magazines are a prime example of mental manipulation for pleasure. The cover will usually have a beautiful and well-known person. This demonstrates that whatever lies within the magazine must have authority on the given subject because celebrities will not be associated with media that goes against their moral values (at least that's what you subconsciously think anyway). Within the pages of the magazine, there will be various articles that will validate that you are perfect just the way you are and then further will sell you on something that will make you better. To make a sale, you want to compliment the person and then drive the sale. The pursuit of pleasure can be found in credit card companies too. "Buy whatever you want right now and only worry about payment later! Instant gratification! Why worry about the future when you can live for today!"
This Is Not A Dig At Consumerism
As apposed to pointing fingers at consumerism culture and the companies that govern it, all I would like to highlight is how the laws of consumerism are geared at giving us what we want, when we want it. The consumer is what drives consumerism. At the root of consumerism culture, Companies, government and media are ultimately just responding to our needs. Whether they are fear or pleasure related. No matter how distorted this culture has become. No matter how many recessions it may cause. No matter how much unfairness it may create. At the end of the day, it is the consumer who drives this culture. It is you, me and the person next to us that is responsible for what is now a very real part of our daily lives.
Money culture is only an outer reflection of our collective inner emotional framework.
What Can Be Done?
To solve a problem, you must first acknowledge that the problem even exists! Acknowledgement and awareness are the first steps to recovery of any ailment. From then on it is essential to become knowledgeable of how you emotionally respond to all things that relate to money. If petrol prices go up, how does that affect your emotional stability? If you lose your job, how does that affect your emotional stability? If you know you shouldn't spend, but you do anyway, what was it inside you that said you must do so? Become consciously aware of your behaviour.
If your problem feels too great to sort out on your own, then consult a professional. Let your ego take a knock and sort the problem out, rather than try to sweep it under the carpet and pretend its not there. We are only limited by what we know. A professional will not only know how to help you, but will also provide you with a different perspective on your issue, which is usually a massive help to fixing your problems.
Thanks for reading,