Are You Anxious About Money If You Don't Need to be? Me Too
I’ve always been anxious about money. I suppose that doesn’t make me odd – it puts me in the mainstream. What does make me odd is that I’m anxious about money when there is absolutely no reason for me to be, and I fear it’s actively been detrimental to my wellbeing.
Why I am Anxious About Money
I am, thank goodness, in a position where I don’t need to actively be anxious about money. I can pay my bills, and I’m responsible with my budget. You would think that’s all I would need for peace of mind, but despite this, I worry all the time.
It’s always about little things that logic would dictate should make me feel happy or excited. Perhaps I’m going out somewhere with my friends, or, God forbid, I want to buy a new video game just so I can do something nice for myself. Without fail, before I actually spend the money I’ll have an internal debate with myself. Usually, the price is negligible – sometimes it isn’t. Honestly, the price doesn’t matter – it’s the mere fact of spending the money at all.
Being Anxious About Money as a Parallel to Hoarding
For a while, I’ve struggled to understand what could be the cause of this behavior. I feel I’ve made a breakthrough by metaphorically comparing it to another disease: hoarding. Now, I understand how serious hoarding is am not suggesting a one-to-one correlation with what I’m dealing with. I simply feel there are enough parallels to allow me to better understand my own mind ("Hoarding Disorder: Compulsive Hoarding Is a Mental Illness").
Hoarding manifests in a number of ways, some of which include the inability to throw things away, anxiety when throwing things away, embarrassment caused by one’s things, and obsessive thoughts concerning one’s things. In my case, the thing may be singular (money), but the manifestations are all there.
For what reasons do people hoard? Again, there are many, but some include the thought that what they own is too valuable to throw away, they feel the item has sentimental value, or the item is irreplaceable ("Hoarding Causes: Psychology of Hoarding").1
If money is applied here, it’s easy to see why it should be susceptible to hoarding-like behavior. It’s too valuable to throw away because it’s money – that makes too much sense. Irreplaceability and sentimentality are subjective to the individual mind, but can be organized under the umbrella term of “providing comfort.” What we consider irreplaceable and sentimental, whatever they are, can be an oasis of calm against an ocean of turbulence.
Money is that oasis raised to the 10th power. Money provides the means necessary for the provision of those basest levels in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – to be without that base is a scary thought. And that’s what does it for me – the idea that financial stability is all too fleeting, that my stable foundation will crumble under my feet.
But that’s all it is: an idea. Spending $20, $30 on dinner, books, or a video game won’t break me. In fact, the comfort and happiness they bring are infinitely greater than what I’m losing by spending that money. Little losses signal large gains. Perhaps if I told myself that more often, and made a concerted effort to reframe my purchases in this way, then I wouldn’t be so anxious about money.
- Neziroglu, Fugen, Ph.D., "Hoarding: The Basics". Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Accessed November 19, 2018.
DeSalvo, T. (2018, November 21). Are You Anxious About Money If You Don't Need to be? Me Too, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2018/11/are-you-anxious-about-money-if-you-dont-need-to-be-me-too