Your Mind and Wallet

by Charles Richards, Ph.D. on January 31, 2012

CNBC “BULLISH ON BOOKS” BLOG – Guest blog piece from Dr. Richards ran 1/30. See:

GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: The Wealth Archetype—Understanding the Positive and Shadow Nature of Wealth by Dr. Charles Richards author of, The Psychology of Wealth: Understand Your Relationship with Money and Achieve Prosperity.

The Psychology of Wealth

Much of our financial behavior as individuals is based on our underlying attitudes about money and wealth. The more conscious you are of your personal psychology of wealth when making financial and career decisions, the more you can use this self-knowledge to your advantage. One way to uncover and strengthen your individual psychology of wealth is to look at wealth through the lens of psychological archetypes. Archetypes are concepts or patterns within the psyche that we inherit simply by being human and that affect us unconsciously. They predispose us to behave in certain recognizable ways. Wealth is such an archetype.

Like many things in our world, archetypes have a dual nature. Like up and down, light and dark, and hot and cold, an archetype has two faces. One is the archetype’s constructive, idealized expression; the other is its destructive, or shadow, expression. The archetype’s constructive expression represents its potential for supporting positive growth and fulfillment. The shadow expression is its negative underside, along with its potential to hamper progress toward our real goals. These two expressions lie on a continuum; one person rarely expresses the purely negative or positive aspect.

When we recognize the wealth archetype in our own attitudes and behavior, we can use this understanding to consciously steer our course rather than allow it to unconsciously drive or sabotage us. Our individual concepts of wealth can inspire and motivate us, or they can lead to stress and burnout. To generate the life you want, you can reinforce the positive aspects of the wealth archetype in your awareness and actions.

The Negative Side of Wealth

The shadow, or destructive, side of the wealth archetype is constrictive, suspicious, miserly, competitive, arrogant, self-serving, punitive, judgmental, indulgent, and disempowering. This side of wealth is driven by fear and insecurity. It is often accompanied by anxiety and blaming others. Operating in this state floods the body with stress hormones and can actually contribute to disease and disorders of the heart.

I’ve seen examples of this psychology in some of the executives and entrepreneurs I’ve coached over the years. They are highly capable people but live in dread that they will be discovered to be frauds. Each day they soldier on, hoping that others keep believing they’re good enough, while not really believing it themselves. Many feel that resources are limited and must be aggressively guarded. Paradoxically, this holds them back from experiencing the joy that success should bring. In a corporate setting, it can derail their rise to the top; entrepreneurs may have few genuine friends.

The Positive Side of Wealth

The positive expression of the wealth archetype encompasses four primary qualities: generosity, proficiency, creativity, and discernment. Thus, the idealized expression of the wealth archetype is generous, empowering, expansive, joyful, humorous, playful, regenerative, innovative, and service-oriented. At its core, this expression of wealth is never self-serving; it serves a higher cause or principle beyond the mere accumulation of assets. This principle may be spiritual, philanthropic, healing, patriotic, or otherwise positive. Wealth becomes a vehicle to realize a goal of service in the world.

“When we recognize the wealth archetype in our own attitudes and behavior, we can use this understanding to consciously steer our course rather than allow it to unconsciously drive or sabotage us.” – Dr. Charles Richards, The Psychology of Wealth

The creative expression of the wealth archetype recognizes that the world offers a nearly infinite abundance of resources, with more than enough to enrich those who have the desire and will to pursue their dreams. The person who embraces this expression is dynamic and continually evolving. Such individuals are encouraging of others.

If your view of wealth includes these positive qualities, you will naturally attract like-minded people. Your inner sense of expansiveness and your willingness to grow will create situations in which you can experience the freedom to be your best. This may take hard work, perseverance, and everything you have to give. With this generosity of spirit, however, you can begin from wherever you are and take substantive steps toward true wealth.

A powerful way to cultivate the positive archetype of wealth in yourself is to practice giving. Sometimes the negative archetype may reveal itself in a hesitation to give freely for fear that you will not have enough. This feeling can be a self-fulfilling prophecy and is certainly self-defeating. Performing a simple act of generosity can renew your energy, inspiration, and motivation, and is the essence of the positive archetype of wealth.

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