Hostage to the Almighty Dollar

DSC_0112“There’s nothing in the world so demoralizing as money.” –Sophocles

Hello friend,

I have tension in me. All week long, I have felt it gripping my chest, tying knots in my back. I HATE THAT FEELING! Of course, I dislike the actual physical sensation, feeling as though I am trapped and suffocated by my own body. But much worse than the physical discomfort, for me, is the psychological. Not even the actual stress but the realization that I have become weak again. I hate that I allow myself to feel this way. I hate that I allow the source of tension to have as much control over me as it does. I hate to admit that to myself. I usually think I have it under control—that I am immune to being controlled again by my former master—but then a week like this one comes along, and it rears its ugly head. And that is when I feel it: the squeeze on my chest and the shoulders raised up, knotted with stress. ARGH!!!

I like to think of myself as a relaxed, easygoing guy. I think I go with the flow pretty well, riding the ups and downs of Life on a relatively even keel. So, what is my Achilles heel, my Kryptonite? One word: MONEY! I absolutely cringe as I write that word. Not that money itself makes me cringe, but rather its power over my psychological state. Its ability to invite tension into my peaceful little corner of the world. Curse you, MONEY! How did you make your way back into my consciousness?

I try to spend as little of my time thinking and worrying about money as possible. I don’t have a lot of it, but I usually have just enough to keep the bills paid. I have been more than willing to have less of it in order to spend more time with my kids. Though I do have some expensive tastes, I have learned to live without those things. Sure, I wish I had a lot more money, but I am aware of my bank account and its limitations, and I live accordingly. The beauty of that is that, as long as things are moving along as planned, I am stress-free. I don’t think about it, and I don’t worry about it. I’m easy!

Oh, but I am walking a tightrope with that serenity. Because, as you know, in life, things are not always “moving along as planned.” Sometimes the world comes along and bites you in the behind. Things break. Accidents happen. More accidents happen. And with each one, my wallet gets lighter and thinner. Pretty soon, I am thinking about money every time I open that wallet, and sometimes even when I am not. Carefree Me gets replaced my Tense Me.

That is what has happened over the course of the past week. It started off innocently enough. When pulling out of the driveway in the morning last Friday, I noticed that the garage door stopped a few inches above the ground. When I returned, I figured I would pull a chain or adjust a sensor and it would be fine, just like it always is. Nope! A couple hours later, the repairman is handing me a $1,600 estimate and I am feeling my chest begin to constrict. That vacation I was thinking about taking this Winter instantly got pushed back another year, and I knew the old wallet tension would be back to stay for a while. I was already dreading that. What a day! As it turned out, that was only the beginning.

Later that day, we discovered that my dear, sweet cat has been peeing—for many days—in the tent I had set up in the basement family room to practice camping with my daughter. Somehow that odor had remained hidden. However, when the tent—and all of its contents—were bagged up and hauled to the trash, the whole place suddenly smelled like the Monkey House at the zoo. Worst Smell Ever!!! Of course, this is awful on so many different levels–I can testify to all of them, believe me—not the least of which is that it is a very expensive “accident” to recover from. There is the stuff I had to throw away. There is the cost to shampoo the carpets. And then, when cat decides to return to the spot to keep peeing there—because that is what cats do, says the vet (oh yes, the vet, another expense from this delightful episode)–there is the cost to replace the carpet. That garage door bill now seems like a mere pittance!

The tension in my shoulders, however, is very real. I am again so totally aware of money, which I have no interest in being. I am trying to stay away from stores. I would rather not look at the mail. I now HATE to spend money again. It is making me tense. I really hate to be tense! More than that, I hate that I have allowed money to have this hold on me. I am fully aware that money does not earn this type of power; I have to give the power away. I have let it happen. I have granted money the power to make me tense. That is weak. I really, really don’t like that part of myself.

It is a complex relationship, this one of mine with money. I am an extremely happy man. I go through every day in this world truly grateful for who I am and all that I have been blessed with. With that said, I am still totally envious of rich people. I know how everyone says wealthy people are not any happier than the rest of us and that lottery winners get depressed and all of that. But I know my personality. I would love it! I would still be wildly happy, yet I would be without this current state of tension. I would use the freedom money buys in order to more directly pursue my dreams, so there would be no boredom or loss of purpose. I could crowd out my Kryptonite with cold cash! Instead, I must learn to live with my current bank account. Just as I grew accustomed to my former status and lived accordingly, I can figure out what to cut out this time, too. I will find a way to peaceful coexistence with this thinner wallet. I will let this tension go, because it doesn’t serve me. Money and I can be friends. I know we can.

How about you? What is your relationship with money? Open up your journal and explore the different ways you allow money to make you feel. What is your current financial situation? How long have you been where you are? How much do you think about money? Are you stressed when you have to open your wallet? Overall, how much tension is in you on a daily basis, and what percentage of that do you attribute to money concerns?   How hard are you working at trying to get out of your current financial situation, if at all? How far are you from your goals? What is one thing you can do today to get yourself closer to those goals? What concerns would you have if you suddenly fell into a lot of money through the lottery, inheritance, or the like? How would you live differently? Can you name the actual dollar amount—either in your bank account or your annual income—that you believe would allow you to live just comfortably enough to not allow life’s expenses to stress you? How does money affect your relationships? If you are in a committed relationship, can you imagine money ever being the source of your breakup? Are you, like me, bothered my how much power money can have over you and your life satisfaction? Leave me a reply and let me know: Are you held hostage by the almighty dollar?

Be a light,

William

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