The word taboo comes from the Polynesian tàpu, which means sacred or prohibited. A taboo is a deeply rooted prohibition that becomes such in a given society; and, even if there are some differences, most cultures share the same taboos. Back in the day this concept was deeply related to sacred and complex aspects, whereas nowadays taboos are linked to a flat dichotomy between right and wrong, to a sanctimonious morality. Psychotherapists have always discussed taboos and Sigmund Freud himself wrote a book about it (Totem and Taboo, 1913). Personally I am fascinated by making the subconscious conscious, by turning the unspoken into spoken. My clients have heard this many, many times: it is radically healthy to have open conversations and spoken contracts with people, because if we don’t, the contracts will still be there, just, they are unspoken: this is how our relationships get tangled and things become complicated. Is this familiar to you?
The most common taboos of our time are death, sex and money. I have been wanting to explore these topics for a while and last week I was presented with the opportunity to reflect on the latter. I got to thinking: we live in a money culture where everyone is after money and constantly thinking about money; to have money is considered desirable and cool, and yet, it’s unspeakable. If we bring money up, most people feel uncomfortable. What is it that scares us or intimidates us about money? We turn to psychotherapy to improve the relationship with our partner, with our colleagues and friends, with our parents and siblings; ultimately we want to heal the relationship with ourselves. But how about the relationship we have with money? I think it’s worth it to turn the lens on it.
So, let’s begin by having an honest and open conversation about money, let’s delve into into it! What was your immediate reaction when you saw the subject of this email, what did you think and feel? (Please, share if you feel to do so). Did you wonder why a therapist is talking about money? Do you like money, do you want it? What are the emotions that you feel when you think about money? Do you ever dare discussing money, or are you afraid of breaking the taboo? Let’s go a little further into this reflection: do you openly discuss money with your partner? And if not, how do you feel about it? I have noticed, in my clinical work, how not speaking openly about money in a couple, often correlates to lower levels of intimacy and connection. What is your experience? Let’s go even further, for those of you whose belief system supports the existence of chakras: energetically, money links to the first chakra, Muladhara. This root chakra is connected with our survival instinct and with the fulfilling of our primitive needs, like stability, self-preservation and security: when the first chakra is unbalanced we may feel anxious or worried about money, regardless of of how much money we actually have. We may as well experience a deep send of insecurity and instability. Do you relate to this? Do you feel anxious about money?
Ultimately I believe that our relationship with money is nothing but a mirror of our attitude to life. Lynn Twist, writer and philanthropist, talks about the three Toxic Money Myths (which can indeed be applied to many other aspects of life): there is not enough, more is better and that’s just the way that it is and there’s nothing you can do about it. In one of her Ted Talks she reports something she was told by an African American 70 years old woman at a found raising event that she was leading in Harlem many years ago.
Money is just like water, it flows trough every life. It doesn’t belong to any of us, it belongs to all of us, or none of us. Some people have a rushing river flowing through their lives, some of us just a little trickle, like me. […] Money is like water, is a carrier, that’s why we call it a currency: it’s a current. And as it flows through my life, I know it’s my job to pass it on where it’ll do the most good for the the most folk.
What kind of energy is money carrying for you? Does it link to gratitude, prosperity and abundance, or does it link to scarcity and fear? I would like to share with you a root chakra healing meditation that will support you in feeling rooted, safe and abundant. Notice if, in time, this can help you shift your perspective about money, or perhaps it will change if and how you talk about money. Ready to break the taboo, yet?