"Do You Need Someone to Tell You Why You Want to Be
Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, The EQ CoachT
If there was ever a thing that causes pleasure and pain,
it's money-how we think about it and how we feel about it.
The current crisis in private credit card debt in the US is
some indication that this is a very loaded issue for most of us.
Here (following), someone tells us WHY we want to get rich,
but what's speaking the loudest is what's not being said -
it's such an awful thing to even want to be rich, much less
actually be rich, that we must spin-doctor it, i.e., "Here,
I'll tell you some politically correct reasons to want to be rich."
Mr. Wallace D. Wattles, "The Science of Getting Rich":
"You want to get rich in order that you may surround
yourself with beautiful things, see distant lands, feed
your mind, and develop your intellect; in order that you may
love others and do kind things, and be able to play a good
part in helping the world to find truth."
This is rationalization. I want to be rich because, all
things being equal, having money is more fun than not having
money. It may be shallow, but it is also true, that for
me, money can buy happiness. Not the enduring, meaningful,
authentic kind of happiness, but the kind that gets me
through, say, a bad hair week, a boring Sunday, getting laid
off, or a relationship bustup. "A momentary stay," as the poet wrote.
It also provides relief from things I hate. Poverty is
doing math endlessly, and details, like clipping and saving
coupons and having them with you when you need them, and
extra labor, like having to wash your only blouse every
night so you have something to wear the next day. It's
figuring out how much stuff costs by the ounce, and having
to walk to the convenience store and buy the tiny detergent,
knowing it's a ripoff, both because you are on foot, and
because you can't ever save up enough at one time to buy the
giant economy size. The giant ECONOMY size is for the RICH.
The tiny EXPENSIVE size is for the POOR.
It further has provided me relief from cleaning my house,
mowing my lawn, washing my car, expressing the, um, glands
of my Chocolate lab, climbing on the roof, driving an hour
through rush hour in the rain to deliver a contract, sitting
in the last row of the last balcony with my head against a
wall, and other chores I would prefer not to do.
And it's kept me from having to make excruciating decisions
-- Do I feed the baby this month, or take photos of him? Do
I buy gas for the car, or buy Granny's heart medicine? Do I
go without shoes, or does my husband? Who gets the one hot
dog for dinner? Which child goes to a foster home, eeny,
meeny, miney, mo.
And also because, like everyone else, I was born on my knees
with my hands clasped in prayer and my eyes toward heaven,
begging for more of anything that's fun, pleasurable, and
not illegal, immoral, unethical, lethal, or UNAFFORDABLE.
Despite my 10 years training to be a lama, if I see a
beautiful sunset, eat a Krispy Kreme, kiss Doug, or get to
go on a River cruise to Russia, I want more, more, more!
But let it be known I want to be rich at the expense of not
a single other living soul. Those with a zero-sum attitude
toward life seem to think that if Tom is rich, Harry cannot
be rich. "I want everyone to have plenty of everything, and
me, too," says Teresa, my hairdresser. Now that's a nice
thought. Let it rain gold on all of us.!
Nor would I suggest wanting to be rich in such a way as the
unenlightened and inexperienced want things. There's more
than one horror tale about that. Be careful what you ask
for. You may get it and not like it; or worse, get that,
and lose everything else.
I talk to couples all the time who say they've tried every
way they can think of to work it out and nothing works; they
fight about money.
And I have clients who are conflicted about making money, so
unhappy both with and without it. Why this conflict and
guilt about money? Why is it so symbolic?
Well money is power. With money, you can have lots of toys
and candy-even a 4 year old knows that. And with money you
can do what you please more, and do more of what you please.
There's a great passage from Robert Penn Warren's, "All the
King's Men," where one of the characters talks about what
life is like once you've got both front feet in the trough
and a dollar's not a reason to get out of bed any more.
Put me right there with my front feet in the trough, and,
hey, you come too!
Wanting money, lusting for money is good, someone wrote.
It's passion. Oops, are we talking about money or love making here?
More on this later.
I think it safe to say none of us longs to be poor, just
scraping by, barely making it, heavily in debt, destitute,
or bankrupt. Though I sat at a Board meeting for the
homeless once where a highly insensitive car dealer told us
all how nice it would be to sleep under a bridge, that it
would be peaceful and that he "kind of envied 'them'." No
t.v., no cell phones, he said. Armchair liberal. No
air-conditioning, no food, no medicine, no education... But
I knew what his life was like -- 70 hours a week was
probably the least he ever put in at the office, so he had
no time to spend his money and he hated his wife. Now that,
I would agree, is "evil" - to have money and no time to
enjoy what it can buy or anyone special to enjoy it with.
However, having gotten out of the armchair and into the
trenches myself, there's nothing even neutral I can say
about grinding poverty. It isn't enlightening, it doesn't
make you a better person, and it doesn't build character.
It's more likely to make you angry, broken, crazy, sick, or
even dead, and if you survive what it does to you, you won't
survive what it does to your children. Spirituality and
poverty do not go together any more than spirituality and
wealth go together. Who got the two connected in the first
"They're so happy," the cruise passengers always tell me,
when we're in the Caribbean. I speak on cruises. "People
in the US are miserable, and look at how happy the people in
Barbados are." I didn't think the prostitute walking down
Main Street with her baby and toddlers in tow looked
particularly happy. Call me unobservant?
Does wealth make you ungiving? It didn't Anson Greene
Phelps, founder of Phelps Dodge Mining Co. He vowed if his
business and family survived a financial crisis in 1832, he
would pledge his life to philanthropy and when he died, he
left to charities in New York the largest donation ever made
at the time.
Nor did it stop Bill Cosby from donating $20,000,000 to
Nor John Sperling, multi-millionaire owner of the University
of Phoenix, from giving $600,000 to Reed College.
And what can you say about Oseola McCarty, who was a
washerwoman her entire life and donated her life savings to
the University of Mississippi -- $150,000?
It does happen to be true that people give to charities in
reverse proportion to their income. "Shame on you, rich
people" is all I have to say about that. If you haven't
donated a playground to a Children's Shelter and watched the
kids hit the AstroturfT running, you have not experienced
the pleasure of money.
So why do we need this justification Wattles gives us?
Because getting rich, or even wanting to, makes us feel
guilty. Religion has been against it. "It is easier for a
camel to pass through the eye of a needle .," and "Love of
money is the root of all evil."
"Try me, Lord," I say. "Test me. Curse me with millions
and see if I can pass through the eye of that needle." And,
what, for heaven's sake is this about not being able to have
money AND be happy? Are we really that stupid? We know,
yes we do, that if you aren't happy without money, you won't
be happy with it, but that's about YOU, and not about MONEY!
Money is referred to as "filthy lucre," in the Bible. Paul
says twice in the First Epistle to Timothy that a pious man
must be "not greedy of filthy lucre," for "they that will be
rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish
and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and
perdition" (1 Tim. 3.3, 8; 6.9).
When my young friend Adam found a business need to fill that
allowed him to leave his $40k a year job, start his own
company, and leap way over the 6-figure bar, I asked his
wife, "Are you happy? Are you having fun?" She said she
was "worried sick" because her mother had told her that when
men get rich, they leave their wives.
This has got to stop!
However, women apparently leave men who don't have money .
"You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille."
In the 80's here in Texas, in the oil bust, so many
marriages were breaking up as the men went bankrupt I had to
ask. I had to know how these women were justifying
deserting their husbands under such circumstances. Using my
intuition-an EQ competency-to help me select the right time
and way, I asked Onetta. "ME Leave HIM?" she cried. "I did
everything I could to stay, to make it work. Why would I
leave him when he's down? Why would I leave him when he
needed me? It was HE. His ego. He wouldn't get out of
bed. He wouldn't talk to me, or look me in the eye, or make
love to me. He said if he couldn't provide for me, he
didn't deserve me. HE equated himSELF with a paycheck, not
ME. I begged him not to push me away. Then he went and
found a 20-year-old, I guess for his ego." The rest . was
This has got to stop!
"The Victorian worship of money, rooted though it is in
Protestant culture, is shot through with the dread and
aversion that such passages enjoin upon all faithful
believers," says Christopher Herbert, Victorian Studies
Volume 44, Number 2. "If money is a divinity, it is a
Herbert goes on to talk about one of our least favorite
theories of Sigmund Freud's; least favorite though not
necessarily invalid - his famous doctrine of the symbolic
equivalence of money and excrement. As in, "Wow! That's a
s***load of money you got there!"
Herbert writes: "Wherever archaic modes of thought have
predominated or persist, [Freud] declares, -in the ancient
civilizations, in myths, fairy tales and superstitions, in
unconscious thinking, in dreams and in neuroses-money is
brought into the most intimate relationship with dirt" (9:
174). In all these different contexts of primitive thinking,
says Freud more specifically, "gold is seen in the most
unambiguous way to be a symbol of faeces" (12: 187).
Can you remember a fairytale like this? Freud's evidence
for such an *interesting* theory, is apparently neither
plentiful nor compelling. Oddly, says Herbert, "Freud never
seems to take note of what the psychoanalytic theory of
money implies so powerfully, namely that money, given its
symbolic proximity to the most repugnant of all things, will
be bound to become an object of at least subconscious
aversion and repression."
But Mr. Herbert, there ARE people hung up like that. They
sabotage themselves, and push money away, nasty thing that
it is. They lose diamond bracelets, fritter away fortunes,
snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in the stock market
. we see it all the time. I coach people all the time
who's subconscious aversion to money is making a mockery of
But before we leave Freud, let's remember that money is like
the Rorschah test, the ink blots. What Freud says about
money says a whole lot more about him than it does about money.
Well, we know this. 25 years ago there were three taboo
subjects at any civilized dinner gathering: love making, religion
and money. Now I think there is only one: money. "Anyone
who tells you what they make," says my young friend Matthew,
And anyone who wants it, must rationalize it . "[so] that
you may love others and do kind things."
I suggest some nice attracting-money affirmations instead:
I love money. When I have money, everything and everyone in
the world is better. Money loves me. Me 'n' Money, sittin'
in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G ... And for heaven's sake don't feel
guilty if you get some, like so many people with inherited
money do, I noticed in my fundraising days. If you truly
want to curse your children, have wealth they may or may not
inherit, depending upon how well-controlled by you they
agree to be, but do be sure and leave them gobs of it.
This has got to stop!
Well, it's a loaded topic for sure that I'd like to raise
consciousness about, because a lot of people waste a lot of
time trying NOT to make money. It's like the 150 IQ child
who's always exhausted because she has to work so hard to
get Cs to prove her point. Give in and get those As, honey;
and go ahead and make that money, sir. IT'S OKAY.
So I'd like to end with this thought: I'm 100% for these
things Wattles praises, and also for money; and we know we
can have them with money, so here are some ways to get them
whether or NOT you have money. That should leave you free
to both enjoy your life, and enjoy money. Now isn't that
the way it should be?
· Surround yourself with beautiful things - shop at the
Thrift Shop or Garage Sales, propagate plants for your
garden, bring cut roses inside, look at and listen to the
birds in your yard, dare to become aware of the profound
beauty of your children.
· See distant lands -- work as a gentleman host for the
cruise lines, the ultimate working holiday. Drive out into
the country at night, spread a quilt on the ground, hold
your lover's hand, and look at the stars - a "distant land"
most of us haven't looked at in years.
· Feed your mind and develop your intellect - there are so
many free resources on the Internet, those of us selling
educational products can hardly make a dime and to me it's
the single best non-personal thing about this decade. If
you don't own a computer, check with social services in your
area. Check out books and tapes from the library. Sign up
for Strengths course; it's free (email me).
· Love others and do kind things - there is nothing, not a
single thing, more kind than to sit and really listen to
someone else, giving them your undivided attention, and it
doesn't cost a dime.
· And play a good part in helping the world to find truth .
what on earth is he talking about? Oh, I know, how about
this truth? That as long as it's not ill-gotten, having
money is almost always more fun than not having money, other
things being equal, and does not necessarily imply the
suffering of anyone else, and needs to be separated from
Filthy lucre? Wash it off and go have fun with it! Likely
you earned it-one way or another. From what I've seen those
who inherit it have worked the hardest for it. But if you
truly don't like it, and refuse to tolerate it in your life,
pass it on over here. I love money!
©Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, The EQ CoachT,
http://www.susandunn.cc . Individualized coaching programs,
distance learning, The EQ Learning LabT, and the EQ eBook
Library - http://www.webstrategies.cc/ebooklibrary.html .
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