I’ll be the first to admit I spent most of my life conflicted about my feelings toward money.

I was stuck in a rather constant turmoil of wanting more, depriving myself of it, making money wrong, and then pursuing it. If I ask myself the question, where have I spent a lot of time in emotional turmoil…it’s around money.

There’s a lot of spiritual ideas floating around about money.

I’m sure you’re familiar with how it inherently hurts people, because it’s addictive and used to gain power so you must place limitations on yourself in order to live “peacefully” and create a more equitable world.

There are others who fantasize about having “enough” money so that they are finally able to live the happier version of the life they want.

Many will say that whenever you earn a dollar, you are taking that dollar from someone else who might need it more.

A big message floating around is that it’s not right to amass wealth from a position of privilege.

Some will say you will never have enough money and always want more.

…these statements might be true in some cases, but there’s a catch.

The catch is that all of these statements have one commonality: they are loaded with perceptions about money that cause suffering through some version of ignorance or avoidance.

Money is not inherently a problem. It’s your perception that makes it a problem or a solution.

I learned the hard way that my own perception of money was actually filled with a storm of ignorance and avoidance.

When I deprived myself of my desire for more it eventually just led to suffering from feelings of lack.

Sure, I was fine for a little while of not having much of it until my responsibilities and needs increased as I got older. Then I blamed my parents, famous people, corporations, and governments for the inequality I felt in my own life. That only led me down the road of feeling stressed about paying the bills as I lived my “meager” money existence.

On the flip side, I also craved money while learning how to earn more of it. Along with my earnings came endless fantasies of wealth and what I would do with it. I was jealous of those who had more and even spent time tracking the rich and famous online without much awareness as to why.

That road consistently ended in disappointment of not having enough of it. There was always a new object I wanted to own, a trip I couldn’t take, a house I didn’t live in, a car I wasn’t driving, charities I couldn’t give to, positions of power and fame I wasn’t in, on and on.

It wasn’t until a handful of years ago that I even realized I was in this constant emotional cycle with money. I thought I was doing just fine. I never put myself in “that group of people.”

In truth, I was always in the group of people who suffered in their relationship to money, because this cycle of deprivation and craving around money is one of the most common forms of psychological suffering on the planet.

And even though it can be subtle or extreme, no one is immune to it until they have achieved a significant level of mastery over it.

Addressing your cycle of deprivation and craving around money is one of the most difficult things to address in life, because we all need money everyday since it’s the currency of exchange for goods and services, which means there will always be someone that has more than you and someone that has less than you.

Unless you are opting out of this exchange, any avoidance or ignorance of how you relate to it results in cravings, fantasies, desperation, deprivation, cynicism, mania, resentments, and jealousy.

It’s simply a law of nature. Ignorance and avoidance leads to suffering. Nature wants us to wake up more fully to the places where we remain ignorant so it makes us uncomfortable with these painful psychological states. In my book that’s not a problem.

So, unless you plan on living in a cave which seems like one interesting way to achieve a unique state of internal mastery, I’m not quite convinced that many monk-like cave dwellers would do very well if you asked them to build a company, support a family, and gain progressive stages of financial freedom.

But here’s the good news…as much suffering as people have experienced around their relationship to money, an equal amount of freedom and liberation are possible by tackling it.

I’ve broken many of my old habits around money. I can’t say I’m a master at this one yet. Far from it. But I’m so much less emotional about it, much more rounded and mature around my perceptions, and I’ve learned many of the necessary skill sets to increase wealth in a progressive fashion.

Here’s what I’ve learned that’s required to mastering the exchange of money in your own life:

  • Breaking the cycle of desperation and craving on both extreme and subtle levels
  • Taking a closer look at how money has helped and hurt you to heal emotional triggers
  • Owning your natural desires for wealth
  • Pursuing those desires with diligence and persistence
  • Aligning those desires with your highest purpose
  • Valuing saving and investing more than consumption
  • Learning skill sets required to amass wealth through business and passive income
  • Welcoming greater levels of challenge and rewards as you pursue it
  • Use it as a resource to bring your gift and create a legacy in this world

Everyone has natural desires for money, because it can “buy” us the ability to live out our highest purpose in a progressive manner. Remember it’s the currency of exchange, and the the more freedom you have in that exchange, the bigger game you can play in bringing your gift to the world.

The bigger game you play, the more impact you’re going to have in this world.

In this way, more money can equal more freedom, impact, and influence.

It kind of boils down to a choice… do you want to pursue wealth and impact by mastering your relationship to money or hardship and suffering by allowing money to master you?

Only you can decide…

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Keith Kurlander

Keith Kurlander is the founder of Higher Practice, a company dedicated to helping therapists achieve their highest potential in private practice. He has two decades of combined experience in business administration, group facilitation, teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level, yoga instruction and as a licensed professional counselor in private practice.

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