The most recent study on women’s relationship to money has concluded that we women have a mortal fear of becoming a ‘bag lady’. I knew that. So do most of the women in my life. I count myself among some very savvy, educated, influential and professional women who harbor this anxiety in our secret closet right alongside the imposter syndrome. (It’s a similar conversation).
It seems a good number of us are frightened to death that, at some point, we will discover that our pockets are empty with no way to refill them. We know it’s irrational thinking. We know that we’re the source of our own personal power. We know that if we did it before (whatever ‘it’ might be) then we can do it again. None-the-less, we still go to bed at night dreading the thought of waking up penniless, homeless or powerless. (Perhaps they should they have called it the ‘less’ syndrome).
The study reports that almost half of us have this fear for a number of very logical reasons: because we may live as much as one third of our lives in retirement; because we can’t rely on social security anymore; because we outlive men; because divorce rates are astronomical and, finally, because we lack financial education.
But I think the issue goes much deeper than this: While all these explanations may be valid, they’re merely symptoms of a bigger phenomenon. If we excavate a bit, we’d learn that the true ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ is rooted in the way we women view ourselves in relation to the world. (We can thank the way we were, and still are, socialized for that). If we did a little digging, what we’d likely discover is that little girls (who eventually grow into women who are studied) are still fed the myth of Prince Charming.
Furthermore, we’re are acculturated to look outside ourselves for our worth, precluding us from building, strengthening and trusting our inner most core. This ‘outside in’ focus leaves our sense of self in doubt, unreliable and more than a bit shaky. No wonder we don’t trust ourselves to take care of our financial business-consciously or not, we think that either we lack the skills or that someone else will do it for us.
So what dynamic occurs as a result of all this personal dis-empowerment? We end up thinking that the sum of money (whether vast or small) that we earn, save or spend magically appears and, therefore, can magically disappear as though we were not the ones who sourced it to begin with. In other words, we don’t ‘own’ the power that created the money, we don’t feel responsible for it, so it can vanish into thin air just as easily as it arrived. Voilà, we are bag ladies!
I’ve come to learn that what we do with our money is what we do with our power. Personally, I feel less and less likely to succumb to bag lady status as I build my inner wealth-the internal resources I need to be self-supportive. On the days I’m in doubt? Well, that rolled-to-the-ankle hose, plastic bag frenzy, and overflowing shopping cart pulls right to my curb defying me to send it away. And I do. That’s how I deal. How about you? How do you douse the doubt?