It's not just about the numbers. When I deal with clients in my wealth management company, I am also dealing with the emotional responses we all have surrounding issues with money.
Why do we become so emotional when dealing with money? It's because so many of us equate security with wealth. And when we perceive threats to that wealth or our ability to amass wealth, we become emotional and afraid.
While money may provide one form of security and help deal with some of life's uncertainties, real security comes from the internal belief that whatever comes your way, you will have the ability to navigate and survive the storm.
Henry Ford said, "If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability."
Gilda Radner expressed a similar belief when she said, "There is no real security except for whatever you build inside yourself."
When working with people who are panicking or becoming emotional over their financial situation or predictions about the future of the economy, I always start by listening and empathizing until they feel a bit calmer.
Then I pose these questions: What do you have faith in? What do you rely on when you face an uncertain future? What have you relied on in the past when you went through a difficult time?
Their responses vary. Many people mention God and religion. If they have a good marriage, they might mention their spouse or other close relationships. Billy Graham touched on the importance of those relationships when he said, "Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love."
Many people mention their own resilience, persistence and strength. Some mention their faith in our country and in capitalism. A few may mention money but it will just be part of their answer. Some realize they actually could get by on a lot less. As the American writer Joseph Wood Krutch said, "Security depends not so much upon how much you have, as upon how much you can do without."
Some say that they aren't quite sure how they would thrive in challenging times, but they know they are resourceful enough to figure it out if and when the time comes.
The conclusion they inevitably come to is that while money may play a role in helping feel secure, they have a wealth of other valuable resources they can count on if times get tough. They have what they need to get through anything.
People who spend their lives seeking security only through financial means will end up sadly disappointed. And I doubt if they are able to ever amass enough wealth to feel truly satisfied. When John D. Rockefeller was asked the question, "How much money is enough?" He famously quipped, "Just a little bit more." If you seek security solely outside of yourself and through amassing enough money, you'll most likely never feel secure enough.
Yes, we all seek security. And yes, our financial resources may dwindle or not be as much as we would like. But if we take stock of all the other resources we have -- such as our time, talents, body and mind, wisdom and our network -- we often find that we are far richer than we previously believed. Even better, when we count resources other than our money, those are the things no fluctuation in the stock market can take away from us.
David Geller is the author of Wealth & Happiness: Using Your Wealth to Create a Better Life. He is he CEO of Atlanta-based GV Financial Advisors and is available for professional speaking engagements.