Love, Money and Self-Esteem

All you need is love, love is all you Need – the Beatles

We believe that all we need is love, and that money, love or both makes the world go round. These ideas are deeply embedded in our cultures and in our worldview. Sigmund Freud said that love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness, and that the goal of psychotherapy is to allow the patient to love and to work.

Money makes the World go round — Joel Grey in Cabaret

Love is an admirable goal.  The state of giving and receiving love is desirable because of the pleasure it generates. It is wonderful to be and to feel loved by another person, and by others. It is equally wonderful to give and to share love. These feelings can be transcendent, transporting, intoxicating. They give meaning to life and make life feel worthwhile. Experiencing the joy of shared love seems to be the point of existing, and in a sense it is in that love is, or ought to be, the healthiest condition under which we propagate life. To lovingly create new life by making love fulfils our biological drive to continue the cycle of life, and fills us with pleasure and joy that reinforces this necessary activity. Being able to receive and give love takes time, learning and practice. We spend an inordinate amount of time, effort and energy trying to ensure that we share in the sharing of love. We may feel miserable, deprived, pointless when we are not part of loving relationships. To be outside a loving relationship can detract from the pleasure of experiences that would otherwise be precious and delicious. If you think about how much effort our cultures put into promoting love, in all the various ways they do, you will realize that it is not just the Beatles, but countless artists, writers, musicians, philosophers, religious and political leaders and institutions, who promote these messages and values. So much of human creativity is about cultivating love. From marriage to prom dresses, the fashion, the cosmetics and entertainment industries, and many more icons, industries and valued cultural activities, human endeavor is rightly directed towards encouraging behaviors and attitudes, and the expectations and means to fulfill them in the pursuit of love.

Money, that’s what I want – Barrett Strong 1959

The same can be said about money. Acquiring financial stability and independence through the creation of wealth, accumulating items of value so they can be exchanged for things we need, is essential to human activity and survival.  Money buys us things we need, and want. Can money buy us love? Not according to our source the Beatles, (Money Can’t But You Love 1964) but it can and does go a long way to securing the conditions under which love and loves’ products can thrive. Life is that much more difficult without money, and without enough money. We spend much if not most of our waking adult lives in the pursuit of money, and the rest of the time pursuing and preserving love.

Love and money, love and work, that’s what life is about.  If we’re lucky, we love the work we do. And even if we don’t, we still work to support the loves we love. We work to love, and sometimes we love to work.

I need Love –LL Cool J 1989

Of course problems can and do arise in our pursuit of love and of money. It may be that there’s not enough if it, it may be the wrong kind, or we may lose it. Encountering these difficulties and obstacles commonly leads to unhappiness, misery and despair. The point is that having enough, and the enough of the right kind, is and feels wonderful, and the converse is equally true; insufficient love and money feels bad, and makes us feel empty and pointless. So what do we do when we feel miserable because we don’t have what we want, or when what we have is not what we want but rather what we don’t want?


I’ll welcome any of your thoughts on this subject and will attempt to answer this question in a blog posting on Monday.

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