Emotions and Money

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Recently I interviewed Robert Kiyosaki, author of the biggest selling financial book of all time, Rich Dad Poor Dad on my radio show. Kiyosaki has been on my show many times and I admire how he “gets” the idea of earning money. One of the things I always feel is how he is so naturally inclined to pursue success, when it comes to his emotions, when it comes to making money.

The way we feel about money is extremely important to our financial success. It goes back to the words of Solomon, “as a man thinks…” If I thought I was poor (as I often did in my life), I lived an impoverished life. If I thought money was hard to obtain, invariably that proved to be correct. If I felt I “never had enough”, sure enough, I came up short on many months. Our feelings about money are profound.

For those in money related 12 Step programs, finances are a very “big thing”. I have friends who have received robust recovery around drugs, food and other challenging obsessions and compulsions, but money recovery is the “Holy Grail”. For them, it is not just a means of paying their bills, but for many, it has supernatural power and is even an obsession.

Virtually everyone develops their emotions (or attitudes) about money in their family of origin. But there are other incidents or events that can heavily affect one’s view of money:

  • The loss of a job that creates a series of events, to losing one’s home and other important possessions.
  • An injury or illness that undermines one’s ability to make money.
  • Living in a community that was heavily dependent on a particular industry and to have the companies in that industry shut down.

In this same space, there is the issue of “emotional intelligence”. There are many definitions for this, but they all come back to a similar idea. Emotional intelligence is where one is able to identify and manage his or her own emotions and appropriately deal with the emotions of others. It is also said to deal with three areas: being emotionally aware, which means you can recognize your own emotions and those of others; the ability to leverage emotions to solving problems and resolving issues; and the ability to control and manage emotions. Emotional intelligence is very important in becoming successful in business and life.

The following are some of the hallmarks of the emotionally intelligent:

Being self-aware. They know what they feel and why.

They handle defeat well.

They agree to disagree.

They are empathetic. They tend to easily think about what it would be like to be in another person’s circumstances.

They tend to act deliberately instead of reactionary. They find little value in complaining and blaming, but operate under the assumption that, if they are not owners of their lives or their decisions, they are victims, which is a very weak position.

They have persistence.

They are patient.

They have self-control. The emotionally intelligent are not ruled by obsessions, compulsions, and addictions. They know what works in their life and stick to those principles strongly because they make them healthier and happier.

They are graceful in dealing with sarcasm and other difficult personalities. They know they cannot expect anyone else to be “the mature one” in the relationships they have in business or in life.

They operated with an attitude of gratitude. What is the opposite of gratitude? I believe it is entitlement. Entitlement essentially means we deserve something for nothing, and those who live with such a mindset are typically miserable. There is, for the entitled, nothing fulfilling in their lives and there is never enough. Ironically, most who live with such a view also do not believe they are not enough. After all, if they believed they were enough, they would have all they need.

Those who are ingratiated do not have time for such. They focus on what they can change and are in a state of gratitude for what they have. They also know how to deal with difficult personalities and limit their exposure to such, knowing such people can influence the way they look at things. Many individuals who are grateful today were not raised to be grateful. I know, in my own circumstances, my parents cultivated an attitude of entitlement in me. They did this by continuously doing things for me when I could do them for myself, they also made my circumstances easier than they should have been by actually preventing me from doing chores that should be natural to a young person. They definitely did the best they could with what they had to work with, but I had to learn the importance of gratitude decades later as an adult. So, for me, gratitude is more of a discipline than something that comes naturally.

Emotions have to be addressed and done so in a responsible, and even gentle, way. Sometimes visiting a therapist is the only way to get traction on the money front. Never hesitate to consider such. I personally know some highly successful individuals who spent many hours with a counselor overcoming their money issues. They will tell you it was the best money they ever spent. Something as simple as our feelings can undermine our ability to achieve success.

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