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  • Money Troubles, Depression and Hope

    We are currently living in some difficult economic times, and money troubles can have profound psychological impacts. Not the least of these can be experiences of depression related to financial matters. If we look at these money issues from the perspective of depth psychotherapy, what can they teach us? Is there any way to find hope in the midst of financial troubles and difficulties? 

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    Financial stress can have profound effects upon our life and health. It can have deep impact on both our outlook and our mood, leading to anxiety and/or depression. Certainly, the economic situations which very many of us have endured since the beginning of the pandemic have profoundly influenced the psyches of a huge number of people.

    In clinical experience with my practice, I’m aware of just how many people have been struggling to deal with increases in mortgage interest rates, house prices, and the impact of inflation on necessary purchases as basic as weekly groceries. Whether as a matter of conscious awareness, or on an unconscious level, many are struggling with these economic realities. If we look at these issues in a broad, depth psychotherapeutic context, what do they mean for us on the deepest level?

    Money Issues: What We’re Experiencing

    The 2023 FP Canada Financial Stress Index rates money issues as the lead stressor for Canadians, ahead of personal health, relationships and even work. It has been this way for quite some time. This survey indicates that almost half of respondents have experienced loss of sleep and well over a third have experienced mental health challenges as a result of financial stress.

    Money is stressful, because, in some ways, it’s so fundamental to our lives. Money issues can deeply affect people at any point of the lifespan. Where a millennial person might be worried about meeting monthly expenses, someone in the boomer age bracket may be very stressed about whether they have enough money to be able to retire.

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    Are Money Troubles “Just The Way It Is”?

    For many, it may seem that money troubles are “just the way it is”, and that there is no alternative but to simply “grin and bear it”. Yet, there are numerous things that individuals can do to help with financial stress.

    One thing that may prove invaluable is to consult with a knowledgeable financial planner. There’s a good body of evidence that indicates that one of the best things you can do to lower financial stress is to have a plan and stick to it, and the best plans are made in consultation with an expert financial advisor.

    Another thing that may be of great value is to pay careful attention to discretionary spending, and to priorize ways to reduce it. The other side of that is to ensure that essential bills get paid.

    When it comes to addressing the “stress” part of financial stress, one element of control that people can exercise is to get regular exercise. Similarly, a meditation practice may well reduce stress.  

    In addition to these very concrete steps to address money troubles, there are some key specifically psychological aspects of our relationship to money. It may be very important for us to look at the place that money occupies in our psyche.

    Money Troubles and Soul

    When we address money troubles, we are in the realm of the archetypal—the things that are universally human. Money is a representation of all the broad issues that human beings face with scarcity and the concern to have enough, or to be prosperous and thriving. In the words of the famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith,

    Money is a singular thing. It ranks with love as man’s greatest source of joy. And with death as his greatest source of anxiety.

    Money and our financial affairs are subjects that we are often reluctant to discuss They are often related to our most basic feelings and assumptions about the nature of our lives. As such our experience of money is filled with emotion.

    These emotions can touch us in very individual ways that are connected to our deepest conscious and unconscious sense of what life is about. Money can be connected to our deepest sense of the meaning of love, or it can be involved in some of the deepest trauma in our lives. It is often essential to explore the roots of our relationship to money, as a part of our journey to psychological wholeness.

    It can often be of the greatest value to explore the vital psychological territory of money with a supportive and knowledgeable Jungian depth psychotherapist. To begin to understand the place that money occupies in the unconscious mind may wellnbe essential for our sense of fulfilment and well-being.

    I wish you every good thing as you travel on your personal journey of self exploration.

    With very best wishes,

    Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and 

    Certified Jungian Analyst (IAAP) 

    Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

    © Brian Collinson, 2023