One of the most fascinating aspects of my work is how people view money. Just recently, two different clients were presented with financial plans with similar probabilities of success, and yet we saw such diverse responses. These clients were considering either a sabbatical or a career change, which would require them to draw on their existing savings for a while. Our numbers showed that it would be possible for both to make their desired change.
One client proceeded to implement the changes, slowed down, and started drawing from their investment portfolio to support the slower lifestyle. Whereas the other couldn’t bring themselves to enjoy their sabbatical; so they didn’t use their investment portfolio as a source of additional income and even reigned in their spending and began to live more frugally than ever.
It reminds me that how we feel about our financial freedom – whether we have enough or not – does not depend on the numbers. We can rationally illustrate, with numbers, analysis, and graphs, that there will be enough, but until someone believes it, it will make no difference to how they feel.
Enough has to do with our core desire for security. We all want to feel safe. We all want to survive. If you have experienced trauma around this core need, especially in early childhood, you likely believe the world is unsafe. You likely imagine everything depends on you or that you are alone. You likely believe there is no support for you.
It may show up as you needing to control your environment for example, or how much your family spends. It may mean that you never allow yourself to enjoy your savings - like going on a bucket list holiday. It may manifest in you staying in a career because it pays well, despite your soul withering away. It may mean that you will never feel there is enough, despite your financial planner’s best efforts to show you that there is enough.
Seeing people so stuck in ‘not enough’ is difficult. It conjures up a picture of someone who is at a banquet but cannot believe that the feast before them is actually meant for them. They refrain from indulging and instead eat the sandwich from their lunchbox.
For those people, the only way to overcome this is to work on their core fears. As financial planners, we can sometimes help by having mindful conversations with them. Sometimes, over time, they relax when they experience our support and the continued stability of their investment portfolios. But sometimes, they need therapy or coaching to address those core fears and it is often their families who will insist on this when it becomes too difficult to live with them.
We must all answer the question of ‘enough’. When we rationally have enough but we don’t feel it, and consequently don’t allow ourselves to experience it, we must do the work of healing that trauma.
I hope that you can live in ‘enough’.
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