40 Questions We’re Afraid to Ask – #19
Money is not only one of those nasty little necessities in modern life, but a huge point of focus for many, many people. We humans seem to have a love-hate relationship with it. Some say it’s the root of all evil. Well . . . actually . . . the original quote going back a couple of millennia, says “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil”, but I digress.
Money and the way we use it can tell us a lot about ourselves.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length to time or perused any of the other pages on this site, you’ll see that I talk a lot about the Six Human Needs. In thinking about the direction I might go with today’s post, it occurred to me that our use of money can be a perfect guide to discovering which of these (Certainty, Uncertainty/Variety, Significance, or Love/Connection) are our highest priority.
Human needs psychology says that everything we do serves to meet one or more of these needs
— the first four of which are our basic needs for survival — and two of the first four tend to serve as the greatest driving forces in our daily lives. If whatever we do on a regular basis serves to fulfill at least two of these needs at a high level, then that action or activity can become an addictive behavior (keep in mind that an addiction can be positive as well as negative — Mother Teresa was addicted to caring for the needy in India, which was a wonderful thing).
If, for example, you religiously put a certain percentage of your paycheck or other income aside, right off the top, into a savings or investment account, a strong sense of certainty is likely toward the top of your driving needs. If, on the other hand, you tend to not concern yourself with savings and investments but instead do a lot of spur of the moment shopping just for the fun of it, then certainty is most certainly at the bottom of the totem pole for you and you are more interested in uncertainty and variety in your life.
Let’s say you tend to be the one who always picks up the check when you go out to lunch or dinner with friends and colleagues, or you spend a good portion of your income on membership in clubs and organizations. I would venture to guess that significance is a driving need for you, or it could be the need for love and connection (at least a sense of connection with others) — or both.
Are you committed to giving a certain percentage of your income to charities or religious organizations before you spend another dime? Then a sense of contribution to the community is likely very important to you; but since Growth and Contribution are considered more “needs of the spirit” rather than driving forces, then you might want to ask yourself if significance or love and connection may be what’s really behind all this?
None of these is a bad thing if kept
in balance with other aspects of our lives
. . . but making ourselves aware of what’s really driving us, even in such seemingly mundane things as how we handle our finances and what we do with our money, can help us understand ourselves a bit better and exactly why it is we do certain things.
If, for example, I am so determined to give to charity or make sure so much of my paycheck goes into investments that I ignore the immediate needs of my family or other dependents, or I’m so hooked on frivolous shopping that I end up maxing out my credit cards to the point I can do no more than meet my minimum monthly payments (if at all), then perhaps it’s time to look at why it is I’m really doing these things. If I’m so set on picking up the tab every time I go out and never allow others to share in the joy of sharing their good fortune, then perhaps I need to ask myself if there is a hidden alternative or some personal need that’s not being met in my life. While I sincerely believe I’m being generous, I may actually end up turning people away because they feel guilty for never having the opportunity to return the favor.
This is where a little strategic intervention or personal coaching might come into play — someone who can ask the right questions, help gain some insight and provide some guidance in finding alternatives to more productively fulfilling your needs, as well as the needs of those around you.