A few years ago I realized that the only way to stop worrying about money is this: to stop worrying about money.
However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I need to admit here that I have never actually come close to accomplishing this goal of not worrying about money. Instead what I have realized is that money is a big trigger—not just for me, but for all of us.
In realizing how big of a trigger money is for all of us, I have come to accept that consistently feeling stressed in some way about money isn’t going to just “go away” any time soon.
The great thing about this realization is that by accepting that money is just by its nature a source of stress, I have been able to decide that I don’t want to waste so much of my precious time and effort in the direction of worrying about money.
One of the biggest complications of worrying about money is believing that the solution to all of our problems in life is to have more money.
A friend once told me about a study where people were interviewed and asked how much money they needed in order to live comfortably. What the study discovered is that it didn’t matter if people made $20 K a year or $2 million a year—everyone felt they needed double the amount they presently earned to feel comfortable in their lives.
You see, everyone is stressed about money and most people wished they had more.
Part of living the mindful life is opening up our perceptions from the personal to the collective. Accepting that financial worries are an uncomfortable state for everyone, while at the same time loosening our own judgmental attitude around the issue of money can decrease our personal suffering around the topic of money.
This reduction in being stressed about money has allowed me to offer more compassion to myself, and the people around me, when it comes to how we manage our finances.
Our mind is a paradox—we want experiences and belongings that cost money, but at the same time we are scared of the financial implications.
Here is an example from my own life. This summer my family plans to add a big solar panel installment to our property. We are passionate about renewable energy, as a solution to climate change, and we want to be part of the solution.
My intuition tells me the solar installment is completely aligned with our life path, and we feel good and clear about moving ahead with this project.
However, I am also nervous about the cost of the project and how we will afford to pay for it.
The way I use mindfulness in this situation is that I notice the entire situation without judgement.
I notice the clear, good feelings about the solar instalment, and I notice the fearful uncomfortable feelings about having enough money.
But I do not connect the two feelings.
What I don’t do is think I need to get rid of the good feelings about an exciting project to solve the bad feelings about the money.
I just notice both feelings exist and give them both compassion and love.
The realization that being triggered about money is just part of the collective human experience helps me to loosen up my own judgments and sense of being self-critical when I am pushing my own financial limits, and see the fear and anxiety as fleeting sensations instead of a true reality.
Once we learn to observe feelings and thoughts as impermanent states of being, we can be kinder to ourselves, less harsh and critical, even when these feelings include our financial well-being.
Feeling nervous and on edge about our finances is one of the innate struggles of the human experience, but we don’t need to let it over-shadow the joy, love and abundance that is also an innate part of being human.
We can do this through awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they arise each and every day.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Steven Depolo at Flickr