One of the greatest blessings of being a therapist is access to the wisdom of your clients and their experiences. After almost 20 years of counseling professionals, one of the most interesting correlations I have noticed is that when people feel better about themselves, their income goes up.
Early on in my practice, I observed that as clients progressed in therapy, they reported higher earnings and a better relationship with money. This was a surprising bonus, because the work we were doing in therapy was aimed at other goals, such as improving self-esteem, setting healthy boundaries and using assertive communication.
Since that time, I have done a tremendous amount of reflection about the psychology of money and have arrived at the following conclusions:
- We learn our relationships with money from our family-of-origin’s values and experiences.
- We all unconsciously recreate what is familiar to us in terms of spending and saving patterns.
- If we do not feel worthy, we will push money away.
I have observed this phenomena on both ends of the continuum. A client who was traumatized by childhood poverty, rose above her challenges and established a successful career–only to fall into financial ruin because she overspent to the point of multiple bankruptcies because she was unable to trust that the resources she acquired would continue to be available to her. Other clients grew up in the lap of luxury but felt inferior to their successful parents who unconsciously enabled them, hindering their ability to successfully leave the nest and function as independent adults.
Money is a resource. It ebbs, it flows. A healthy relationship with money involves a balance between spending and saving. In our consumer based, materialistic society, we all know over-spenders, but there are also those that are miserly and save beyond what is healthy or necessary. When the uncle of one a client died, her family was shocked he had millions in the bank after a lifetime of penny-pinching misery…
I believe in abundance theory. There is more than enough money and resources for us all to prosper. We create our own realities through our thinking. If you believe that you are worthy, you will behave in a way that attracts money. If you suffer from guilt, anxiety, shame or low self-esteem that breeds negative thinking, you will go without or squander it away.
We set our own ceilings. I have seen it with countless clients and have experienced it in myself. At my first job out of graduate school, I heard the range of salary for a masters degreed therapist was $18-$25K. I set the goal to make $25K and achieved just that. After two years, I was ready to earn more and thought $35K would be a good target. I got a new job making exactly that amount, but not more… I then started a private practice and wanted to make $60K a year. A colleague also starting a practice said he wanted to make $100K. I made $60K and he made $100K. I then realized the power of intention.
In recent years, I have expanded my thinking to welcome greater prosperity into my life–not just with money, but other resources like love, friendship, leisure time and joy. As I have expanded my thinking, I have expanded my prosperity. Subsequently, I have been able to better coach along my clients.
Here is my advice. If you would like to have more money, follow these steps:
- Think about your family-of-origin’s relationship with money. Was it a healthy balance of spending and saving? Was there the belief that you would always have as much as you need? If not, consider what beliefs you might unconsciously be recreating in your life.
- Ask yourself, what does money mean to you? If money is something bad or stressful to you, re-examine your thinking around money. Reframe it as a resource that is plentiful and perfectly available to you. Develop a mantra that you incorporate in your daily meditation, such as, “I welcome prosperity into my life.”
- Reflect, do you earn as much as you could? Consider therapy or a coaching program to increase your self-esteem, assertive communication skills and ability to think outside of the box. Imagine what you would like to earn and make this a goal, or perhaps even increase that figure by an additional 20%…
- Develop a financial vision. Write down your goals and consider creating a vision board.
- Consider a financial planner to help make your vision a reality. These professionals can help you strike a healthy balance between spending and saving, they can be a neutral mediator if you and your partner have different financial styles, and they can provide accountability as you make your dreams come to fruition.