The Meaning of Money

piggy bank

Money: arguably one of the most powerful forces in our lives. Right up there with emotions. You only need to watch, read or listen to the news to recognize the extent to which money influences our actions.


So how did something with little to no intrinsic value become so powerful?


Prior to the introduction of money, people traded or bartered for what they needed. Using either goods such as produce, livestock or animal hide or a needed skill such as metallurgy, carpentry or administering healing, this system persisted until 5,000 years ago when Mesopotamia used metal coins to pay their armies. It’s interesting that the value of what we trade, be it produce or money, exists because it’s something we need for survival.


So how might this intersect with emotions? Let’s first look at the value of emotions. Do they really have value? Sure. We have survival emotions that help keep us alive- pretty valuable. We have emotions that keep us connected to those we love, connection also being an important goal for survival. Yet, most if not all of us, have labeled emotions good or bad based on the context in which we are experiencing them. As with money, the value is what we assign to them, not what they really are.


When we take these two powerful influences together, what happens? Does it ultimately boil down to safety and survival?  Honestly, most things do on a very deep almost unrecognized level. Think about what you experience when you feel that you are in danger. You might feel afraid. You might lash out at whatever seems to be creating this situation. You might want to just disappear so no one notices you. Whatever the response, it is, at the end of the day, one that helps us address ways to stay safe.


Money represents security for many of us. Both the assurance that we can continue to have basic needs such as a warm place to live, food to eat and water to drink as well as the security of feeling successful and accomplished. Proving to yourself and the world that you do have value.  Unfortunately, as with ANYTHING outside of us that we depend on for our sense of self, this can be a house of cards.


From an inside-out approach, we want to cultivate an intrinsic sense of value that is built on a foundation of self-awareness and personal power that would not be subject to the whims of the chaotic marketplace. If we create this foundation of self, we can put our money to good use.


To deep-dive more into the relationship between emotions, money, and our ability to make sound financial decisions, check out Kathy Mangan and Erin Steele’s upcoming course Unpacking Your Relationship With Money.

Kathy Mangan

Kathy Mangan, Landscape Architect

Founder of Laying Groundwork and the Learning Center at Red Willow in Missoula, Montana, Kathy has long been interested in health and well-being. She leans heavily on what she has learned from many years of gardening and being in nature. Since planting her first radish seeds at age 4, Kathy has experienced the natural order of things and learned valuable lessons about patience, control, and timing. She brings this timeless wisdom to her work.

As the Landscape Architect for Laying Groundwork, Kathy puts her relentless curiosity to work staying current on health and well-being research and helping to develop relevant curriculum in cooperation with experts in various allied health science fields. She is dedicated to making even the most complex content accessible to and practical for every audience.

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