The biggest issue people have with money is limiting beliefs
I have worked with a lot of people in therapy, and I've talked to a lot of people about money and wealth. I have a very strong impression that what defines how much money or income anyone has is almost completely defined by their limiting beliefs.
We all hold beliefs. Beliefs are held because we had experiences in the past that have not been fully lived and integrated, and that still live within our minds, controlling our actions without our conscious awareness.
Since money is such a power symbol for freedom, survival, control, power, legacy, continuation, and survival, it becomes tied up with so many of these early experiences. Our ability to generate, retain, and utilize money is almost completely defined by these unconsciously-driven beliefs.
I highly recommend getting a therapist or coach to work with you on your money-related limiting beliefs.
'F--- you money' is overrated
I remember one time making a management decision that was overruled by my manager. I remember saying to him, "Well, I don't agree with you, and you can fire me if you want." He chuckled. I don't know what he really thought of that, and nothing negative happened to me. I played the "f--- you" card, and it didn't feel particularly good.
In 2007, I quit my job and basically retired. I took on a large number of projects and I worked my ass off. I had the freedom to do many things that I wanted to, and many more things that didn't really serve me. Meanwhile, I didn't take the opportunity to really retire, to just do nothing, to backpack around the world and lie on beaches, and to surf all day.
Okay, I did spend some periods, lasting months at a time, living in inexpensive tropical places surfing a lot, but I didn't do it as much as I now wish I had. Those experiences were good for me. Often doing the thing that is the most difficult or strange for you — which for me is going on vacation — can actually be the most transformative.
The moral of this story is that you can have all the 'f--- you money' in the world, but left to your own devices, without deep inner work, often facilitated by a great coach or therapist, you're going to spend your time essentially f---ing yourself over.
Being wealthy is a full-time job
There's a foolish impression that once you have a lot of money, you can kick back and relax. To some degree this is true. You can have more choice, and you can buffer situations in your life to some degree. However, once you have assets you have to manage them, protect them, and maintain them. You need to worry about being sued, so you need insurance. You need to hire people to do stuff for you, and you need to manage them. Delegation is really hard.
If you're not careful, you will make your life more complex, with more things, and more activities. Perhaps you will use spending money and buying things as a cheap way of avoiding self-awareness. Perhaps you will become obsessed with hoarding your money and maximizing its growth.
Some people become very suspicious of other people, not trusting that they really have friends, thinking that others are trying to get at their wealth. Even with the best intentions, others will seek funding and support from you. They want you to invest in their businesses and projects. They want to borrow money. All of this is a massive strain on your ability to be aware of your boundaries, and avoid being co-dependent or enabling.
It's really challenging being wealthy. Approach with caution.
Being wealthy is not all it's often cracked up to be. It can be amazing, if you know how to approach it. I recommend finding a guide who can help you to attain and retain the wealth you desire, and to reap the maximum benefits and pay the minimum costs.
This article originally appeared on Medium.
Duncan Riach is a computer architect and engineer based in Northern California. He was an early employee of NVIDIA and now specializes in artificial intelligence.