Why I'm Terrified of Money

I am terrified of money. If at all possible, I try to ignore its existence. I literally avert my eyes as the cashier hands me my receipt. 

Before I discovered the magic of direct deposit, my bosses had to track me down to hand me my checks. One finally asked why I was the only one who didn't come to the office to pick up my checks on payday and why I never opened them to make sure the hours were correct. 

I find the very mention of money deeply embarrassing.

As you might imagine, this attitude doesn't lead to the kind of financial life that would make Suze Orman proud. Her column is the only part of O Magazine I refuse to read. 

You might be wondering how I survive. 

As luck would have it, I am a minimalist. I often simply go without. Almost every item of clothing I own was a gift. My furniture is also a mixture of hand-me-downs and garage sale finds. Scholarships kept me free of student loans and my parents pay my medical bills. 

I could put a spin on this situation to make it seem more virtuous. I could talk about the gratitude I have for being richer and freer than a large amount of people on this planet. 

The truth is my habits and lifestyle come not from any vow of poverty or commitment to being green but from fear. 

Every book on manifestation and flow (and basic common sense) tell me that the more I resist money, the bigger problem it is going to become for me. See, I punish it by ignoring it and it repays the favor by being gone when I go looking for it. In an attempt to grow-up-already and start a healthy relationship with currency, I've decided to delve into all the reasons we don't get along. 

What are the stories I've been telling myself about why I can't manage my finances with the same go-getter, positive attitude I bring to other areas of my life? 

Here they are the stories I've been telling myself about money:

1. I've never been great with numbers. 

When we learned our multiplication tables in third grade, the teacher offered an ice cream party as an incentive to pass all our tests. Paper cones baring our names were taped to the cupboards and filled with paper cutouts of ice cream scoops and toppings to show our progress. My sad little cone never got past a vanilla “ones” scoop and a strawberry “twos” scoop. 

Thus began my life-long battle against the injustice of numbers. 

I should note that I have a problem with time as well. I am always trying to fit more into a minute than is humanly possible. I am continually surprised by how long it takes me to put on my shoes and find my keys.

2. Money is evil. 

Maybe I watched A Christmas Carol one too many times as a kid, but I can't get the concepts of money and spirituality to co-exist in my head. Somewhere deep in my psyche Scrooge McDuck is still swimming through the piles of gold coins in his vault. 

Of course, I know that like any tool, money can be used for many pursuits. But nowadays, you can't even buy a bag of quinoa or a bar of raw chocolate without worrying about how your purchase is destroying the natural environment and human rights. And that's the moment when I think it's not to late to join an ashram and denounce all worldly goods. I'd be doing it for the completely wrong reasons. I'd be doing it to free myself from the burden of making positive, responsible, conscious decisions.

3. Dreamers are poor. 

The flip side of my evil millionaire archetype is the image of the starving artist. This also links into the old adage “time is money.” I worry a lot about wasting my time and skills. Despite the evidence to the contrary, I still believe true visionaries don't take day jobs and don't ever make money off their work. 

I want to create for the pure, simple joy of self-expression. But I'd also like to eat (preferably organic food and the occasional vegan treat). I'd also like to be able to enjoy and support other people's art. Plus, all my day jobs provide valuable lessons and interesting insights. 

As my dad says, “If you like it, great. If you hate it, then write about it.” That's how I ended up working at a funky little dinner theater. So many stories!

4. Budgeting won't work because there will never be enough. 

My mom used to drive all five of us kids to McDonald's on Two-Burgers-for-a-Dollar Tuesdays. We came up short every once and awhile. So we dug through the  seat cushions in pursuit of one or two more quarters to pay for the order. 

My mom also didn't have a credit card for most of my childhood. When we need cash, we grabbed a few items from the grocery store and got cash back. This is how I learned that all manner of sins could be hidden under the justification of a food bill. It may also be why I reward myself with a trips to Whole Foods instead of with clothing or other extravagances. 

The problem is, I can't fool or argue with my bank account. It doesn't care where the money is going. It doesn't attach judgement to the deposits and charges. Just like weight loss requires more calories burned than calories consumed, healthy finances require more coming in than going out. I can whine all I want about what I need or deserve. The numbers remain impartial.

5. Any day now something will happen that makes it so I never have to worry again. 

In this watered-down version of the law of attraction, I simply hope I won't ever have to develop the skills of money management. It occurs to me that even if I had an unlimited source (which on a spiritual level I do know I have, but I don't like to think of it as being attached to my bank account as explained in #2 and #3), I'd still be responsible for making choices on how to utilize it. Finally selling a project won't solve all my problems. In fact, it will probably present more challenges that require knowledge and confidence.

Now that I have identified some of my false stories and judgements about money, step one to unblocking my resistance is to create healing affirmations. Whether wealthy or poor, I know a number never reflects who I truly am or the value of the work I am doing in the world. 

Still, I'd like to be awake to the present situation not controlled by it. So here goes: 

Any work I do to sustain myself and turn my projects into realities is worthwhile. Money is simply a tool I am learning to utilize with greater skill. Funding is available and I am capable of managing it. I am deeply grateful for all the resources I have.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock 

About the Author

Danielle Orner practices yoga for her health and sanity in sunny Southern California. Diagnosed with bone cancer at age 15, she spent a decade undergoing surgeries, scans, and treatments. Changing her lifestyle revitalized both her body and spirit. A writer, actor, and yoga teacher, Danielle seeks to explore the body-spirit connection in questions of identity, sexuality, and healing. Her first feature screenplay, Exposure, placed as a semi-finalist in the Francis Ford Coppola American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest. She is currently working on a memoir, The Cancer Saint Rebels. Visit her at www.danielleorner.com or on Facebook.

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