Many of us approach our personal finances with a sense of shame, embarrassment, or a preoccupation to “do the right thing.” Very rarely do we approach our own finances with a sense of kindness, which is strange, because a sense of care for ourselves and others is at the heart of most financial choices we make.
In The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness, author Kelli Harding draws from research that shows that bunnies that were treated with kindness outlived similar bunnies who did not receive the same care. As humans, we have the ability to treat ourselves with care and kindness. However, when it comes to money, I more often hear clients engage in self-judgment.
One client of mine would beat herself up over every financial choice she made. When she inherited wealth, in her mind, her father would have made different (and better) choices. Her father loved her and wanted her to be comforted by the money he had left, but her experience with the money was one of chronic failure. She came to me deeply concerned with the state of the world and wanting to make a difference with her investments. But she still felt as if there’s a “right” way to deal with money, and whatever she was doing, wasn’t it.
After working together for a number of years, my client now tells me that she can feel her father’s love for her when she gives to charity, travels to see her grandchildren, or invests in a forest of trees that will sequester carbon and help improve the planet those grandchildren will inherit. Her experience of her money is no longer painful. It is loving: of herself, of her family, and of the planet.
Let me share some thoughts:
• There is no “right” way to spend, save, give, or invest money. Money is there to help us co-create the world where we live, and to fulfill our life’s meaning.
• Putting ourselves into a state of inner suffering will not make any difference in the world. Our self-inflicted pain will not lead to justice for the less fortunate. Only actions filled with loving kindness can do that.
• Internal kindness creates resiliency, according to Kristin Neff, PhD, in Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive.