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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Question 12


Dear Dr. T.,

My mother is an alcoholic narcissist and borderline personality who sacrificed all of her relationships for money, and continues to do so. I reacted by doing my best to ignore money, and when I made money on real estate, I spent it while writing a novel. Now, in my fifties, I'm terrified. But my distaste for money and the people who prize it above other concerns has only grown. I've been in therapy quite a bit, and I know myself, yet I still feel horrified by the commodification of all aspects of life that's become the norm in America, I have no genuine interest in making money and I resent the need to do so, which I consider a waste of one's precious time on earth. I realize this attitude has caused problems, but it's proved resistant to therapy - and to reality. Ideas?



Dear Writer,

I suspect that the first sentence of your question is the answer to your question. Even though you are a grown, independent woman you are locked into anger, disappointment and disapproval of your mother. And the last thing you want for yourself is to be like her or identified with her values. If I am right, for you, on an emotional basis, money = mother, even if rationally, you know that is not so. I think you may need to do four things 1) accept and mourn the fact that you did not have the mother you wished for and still wish you could have; 2) forgive her for being who she was and is (which does not mean you have to love her or even include her in your life); 3) clarify, in your own mind what you do value and want in your life, including those things money can buy (for example a reasonable modicum of security, safety, comfort, etc.); and 4) train yourself to believe that what money really is, is just a tool for achieving what you want in life, not what anyone else wants, and then figure out how much money (income or assets) you need to get that. You are not your mother and wanting a reasonable amount of money to meet your needs won't make you like her. I suggest that you write down a two part mantra; 1) "Money is just a tool" 2)"Getting and having enough money will not make me a greedy or materialistic person." Paste this mantra on your bathroom mirror or some place where you will see it every day. Say it out loud to yourself at least once a day (two or three times is better) -- make this a habit. Your ideas about money are ingrained and you will need to keep on working on this if you want to achieve lasting change.

Dr. T.

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