Money and Your Health
Let's talk money. Not numbers, but feelings. Because the way we feel about money says—and shapes—more about us than we realize. Usually money is seen in black-and-white terms: We have enough of it or we don't. "But money is also a hugely emotional, psychological and symbolic entity in our lives; we each bring our own meanings, emotions and experiences to our relationship with it," says psychotherapist Kate Levinson, Ph.D. In leading her "Emotional Currency" workshops, Levinson finds that such feelings can be a catalyst for personal transformation. "It's an incredibly good vehicle for seeing our issues and vulnerabilities because it touches on almost all aspects of life and it reveals deep parts of our psyches, including our needs, fears and desires," she says.
Money affects career and relationship choices, and shows up in issues of control, safety, self esteem and well-being, says Deborah Price, a money coach in Healdsburg, Calif., and author of Money Magic: Unleashing Your True Potential for Prosperity and Fulfillment. "Just about every decision we make, and much of our personality, is formed in some way, shape or form by our beliefs around money." Price, like Levinson and a small but growing new breed of money therapists and holistic financial planners, believes that talking about money is not just good for the bank account, it's also good for the soul.
Women, couples and baby boomers in particular seem to be responding to this new approach to money management. "People are looking for help with the whole picture," says investment advisor Christopher Peck of Holistic Solutions in Sebastopol, Calif. "There's a growing perception that things like money, feelings and what happens in your community aren't separate."
Love and money
Equating love and money is a habit we often pick up from our families, says Price. Rather than saying "I love you" or spending time showing it, parents indulge their children with material gifts as a way of demonstrating or compensating for affection. When these kids become adults, they can feel unloved unless they are being given something. Money can be a hot-button issue for women because it's intertwined with the concept of caretaking. "You could take two independent, capable people, but when you put them in a relationship, their expectations around money change. A lot of old stuff surfaces," says Price. Suddenly, a woman may feel that the man should be the provider, and if he isn't, then he doesn't love her enough, Price explains. Self-worth issues easily become magnified in relationships—and the lower the self-esteem, the higher the need or expectation.
That's what happened with a couple who came to see Levinson. Both partners were self-sufficient, with good jobs, incomes and credit ratings. But after their wedding, the wife began mismanaging money and racking up debt. Marriage uncovered her need to feel taken care of, and overspending was a way of asking for attention. Once the couple understood this, the husband made a greater effort to look after his wife—but in non-monetary ways like cooking and running errands. The wife's overspending stopped, and she had become aware of a powerful, hidden desire.
"When couples sort out their money problems together," says Mark Zaifman, of Spiritus Financial Planning in Santa Rosa, Calif., "they learn how to work as a team to solve other problems as well."