Last month, I shared an observation: That you couldn’t turn on the news or scroll social media without hearing or reading the word “recession.” You still can’t. This, despite the Fed’s most recent interest rate hike designed to tame inflation and recession fears. And, perhaps to also shift the conversation about the health of the economy.

Depending upon your perspective and circumstances and which economist, media pundit, or government official you listen to, you are either unfazed by the current state of the economy, freaking out, or somewhere in between. Wherever you fall along this continuum is more than likely influencing the opportunities you see, the actions you’re taking, and the decisions you’re making.

As you may know, I don’t believe in bypassing what is typically described as the “negative” emotions of money (like fear). But, if you’re freaking out right now, I want to shift your attention to another emotion on the spectrum.

Let’s talk about an emotion that usually gets minimized: joy

“When is money ever a source of joy?” is one of the questions my new coaching clients answer as part of their on-boarding experience.

What’s your answer to this question?

How often do you give thanks that you have money to spend on yourself vs.feeling guilty and/or irresponsible with it when you do so?

How often do you give yourself credit for what you have vs. feeling bad or regretful about what you don’t?

How often do you give thanks for your student loan debt because of the professional prospects and opportunities it’s afforded you vs. being mad about how large it is and how loooong it’s going to take to pay it off? (I am fully aware this is a loaded example…)

How often do you compete with family, friends, peers, and colleagues on the joys of money vs. the challenges of it?

One of the reasons I believe it is important to acknowledge and embrace joy is because of what it costs you and me when we don’t.

The Subtle, But High Price

Personally, I believe we do ourselves a disservice when we talk, think, and classify emotions as “positive” vs. “negative.” It’s as if this extremely limiting binary is the only option available. When, in reality, emotions are nuanced and exist along a spectrum. (At least according to what I’ve experienced and observed.)

But let’s roll with the two-dimensional paradigm until we (culturally) move beyond it…

When you focus almost exclusively on the negative emotions of money, there’s a strong likelihood that you feel alone in your feelings. Or, you don’t feel understood. Or, you feel misunderstood.

The result: You conflate “hiding” (because you don’t discuss these feelings and what’s causing them with others) with being private.

There’s a difference between hiding and being private…and it is huge! This difference, this isolation is one cost.

There are other costs. They are also subtle in terms of identifying them, yet significant in their impact:

Connection and Stronger Relationships

When you “hide” because you don’t discuss what’s causing your negative feelings, you end up giving more power to the judgment of and from others. (Think about that for a minute.)

Likewise, when you shy away from initiating those awkward, yet open and honest conversations, you lose out on the opportunity the situation presents to deepen your connection and sense of togetherness with those “others.” (Because, believe me, everyone can relate to the “feeling” you’re feeling even though their details, context, and circumstances are vastly different.)

Trust & Self-Confidence

Have you ever said, “I feel embarrassed (or guilty) because I know better, but am not doing better…”?

If so, then you understand the internal friction this creates, which gets amplified if your actions (or lack thereof) cause someone else to be disappointed in you. Not only do you lose their trust each time you don’t keep your word, but you also chip away at your own self-confidence and trust in the process.

Good, Smart Decisions

Whenever you and I focus on our negative money emotions, it makes us feel uncomfortable. This unease can also prompt us to confront known and unknown feelings and expectations. In other words, the “perfect” recipe for making unwise decisions and choices.

As you consider what prompts your negative feelings about money at times, whether it is something you’d define as “small” or “large,” think about how the manner in which you’re “holding” these feelings is impacting your ability to make good, smart decisions.

In some instances, your negative feelings about money literally costs you money; other times, it’s a combination of money and pride. Yet, those instances are typically teachable moments, too – for you and possibly the other people in your life.

Now, you might say the last 400 words or so is a weird way to promote talking about the joy of money. But, I wanted you to see the price you pay when you don’t focus on it, so that the invitation to do so doesn’t come across as some platitude.

Money is messy. ✔

It’s complicated. ✔

It’s emotional. ✔

Usually, though, when we (as a culture) say it’s emotional, the spotlight is on the negative emotions. Not the positive ones.

Usually, when you compare your financial reality to others, the comparison puts you in deficit territory.

Imagine if you did this with the other important relationships in your life…it’d be a hot mess, right?

You’d stay stuck, unable to move beyond the challenging times to something better – maybe even something greater.

I believe one of the reasons joy is an underrated emotion of money is because of what it asks of you.

What is that, you wonder? It is embedded in your answer to the question I posed at the start, “When is money ever a source of joy?”

Because whatever may be your answer/s, courage is probably required. And being joyful most certainly takes courage.

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