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Stanley Gabriel | Your money is not your shrink

Stanley Gabriel | Your money is not your shrink
17-04-24 / Stanley Gabriel

Stanley Gabriel | Your money is not your shrink

I value and respect psychologists and how they help improve our lives. I, myself, am a product of this. Today, though, I deliberately choose the less elegant term “shrink” to indicate that we sometimes make nasty shortcuts to what we think will improve our overall well-being, more specifically our money matters.

Let’s face it, it’s a tale as old as time, since people have been trading seashells, most have always thought that more money will make you happier – money is power. This belief about money has been intensified by capitalism and unbridled consumerism.

We can’t lie, money does make our lives easier. Without its power to lift us from confining socio-economic circumstances, many of us will not enjoy the privileges we have or the positions we’ve reached. There is no shame in wanting more money.

But we must realise that it cannot bring you lasting joy. Neither can comparison with others and showing off. Or “buying” popularity.

To borrow from creativity experts Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan in The Artist’s way at work, “In our culture, the idea that monetary worth equals self-worth equals happiness is marrow-deep.” We’ve come to believe that our money defines us. Society is “money drunk”, says Cameron and Bryan.

To define our characters by how much money we have, shows a different kind of poverty. And unless we can rid ourselves of some crippling psychological effects of how we grew up with money, we will always fall into the trap that we will never have enough.

We should try to focus on what brings us fulfilment. Each of us must find what nurtures us above all. Money becomes a joy when we can improve our relationship with it and foster good money habits.

We can dissect where our bad habits come from and debunk them by starting conversations with our peers about our struggles and dropping our money shame. We can cultivate constructive habits.

Instead of being stuck in old ways, we can broaden our knowledge and increase our confidence.

True value is also not something set aside for the rich and famous, it’s a matter of mindset. What we extract value from stretches across all economic strata – and it’s unique for each of us.

We will do well if we start seeing money not as a quick fix for all life’s ills, but as an enabler. It is something that can empower you. That we can do, ironically, by focussing less on money and ridding ourselves of the performance angst of keeping up with the Joneses.

We should rather determine whether we spend money according to our true values.

The questions I ask myself are: What are my priorities? My health? My family? A dream of a side hustle? A special hobby? Being better educated? Then that is what I should sacrifice for and spend more money on.

I try to be clear on my money evolution.

Mixing money matters with friendships is one bad habit I’ve moved on from. I lend money when I don’t need it back, and when I’m sure the borrower has tried their best to raise some of it themselves.

I want my spending habits to reflect the things that add true value to my life, not those that give me skin-deep and short-lived comfort. I’m looking for meaning, not means. I love luxuries, but now I’m spending money on furthering my coaching skills (luckily with assistance). I want to eat fewer takeaways and live healthier. I’m spending my money on having the most resilient body to serve me for the rest of my life.  I want to spend time with the people I love. That’s my purpose and my growth mindset.

I want to borrow from Cameron and Bryan again: “Abundance has to do with balance in our lives, not with cheque accounts.” They say we are overdrawn emotionally, and the only way to fix that is by caring for ourselves. Caring for how you regard your money is but one aspect of that.

*Stanley Gabriel is CEO of Momentum Investo.

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