Doug Lynam

The energy of money is miraculous. With enough wealth, we can have and do almost anything we desire. A click of a button can deliver any object we want to our doorstep, and we can hire people to complete almost any task we ask of them. But without wisdom, we’ll inevitably use our money to feed our inner demons, our “money monsters,” wreaking havoc on the world.

Deprive people of money, however, and societal illnesses flourish. Poverty is one of the best predictors of mortality because poverty is deadly.1 Poor people experience higher rates of domestic abuse, alcoholism, addiction, violence, obesity, injury, physical illness, mental illness, and poor health.2 If you’ve ever lived in poverty, then you know how stressful it is. And if you haven’t, I don’t recommend it. Poverty is a curse that no one should have to endure.

Like it or not, money is the primary tool we use to act in the world, and money absolutely makes the world go around. The big question is: Go around what?

The bottom line is that the energy of money is morally neutral and will flow wherever we, or our culture, direct it. It can build schools or bombs, bandages or bullets. And too often, our individual money monsters are the axis that controls the flow of money. They cause us to hoard cash or divert it to gratify our worst impulses, creating unnecessary suffering for ourselves and those around us. Or our money monsters derail our financial life, pushing us into debt and financial despair.

Conversely, money can be a vital tool for selfless service, love, and compassionate action. You can’t feed the poor or tend to the sick without money. The choice is ours to decide whether we will use the energy of money for good or ill – money, after all, is simply a tool and an extension of our free will.

Refusing to reflect deeply on money doesn’t make it disappear from our lives. Instead, we unconsciously absorb whatever values we inherited from our family or pick up from the culture around us, and even if we live in reaction to those values, they still control us. Everyone learns about money from somewhere, intentionally, or just through osmosis, and we often learn bad habits and poor money mindsets while growing up that devastate our financial future and peace of mind.

Building A Healthy Relationship With Money Using The Enneagram

Until we have a healthy relationship with ourselves, we can never have a healthy relationship with money. Our emotional wounds distort how we think, feel, and act, in all-too-predictable and tragic ways. Each of us — rich, poor, or somewhere in between — needs to do our inner work to heal the inevitable traumas that lead to a distorted relationship with ourselves so that love can flow through us and into our financial decisions. We can only live a rich and prosperous life materially, emotionally, and spiritually by healing our inner wounds.

As the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people.” And one of the most effective ways to legally hurt someone is with misspent money. Money provides both power and status, which means that money can do an amazing amount of damage in the wrong hands. As Richard Rohr often says, “If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it—usually to those closest to us: our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and, invariably, the most vulnerable, our children.”3

For example, my father left a wake of emotional destruction behind him as he climbed the corporate ladder to become a CEO and used his fortune to feed his egoistic desires, regardless of the consequences on those he said he loved. However, I now see that he deserves compassion and forgiveness. I learned later in life that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was an altar boy and had a harsh, alcoholic father. Consequently, money and status symbols became the drugs my father used to numb his anxiety and shame. If only he’d had the tools to develop a healthy relationship with himself, he might not have died alone and broke.

Sadly, everyone is deeply hurt and has inner demons to tame because, as you’ll learn in this series of articles, your personality was formed around unconscious childhood wounds that feed your money monsters. We all experienced childhood trauma that separated us psychologically from our parents and society so our distinctive personalities could form. Those unconscious wounds drive our behavior and create most of the suffering in our adult lives, especially around money.

Simply put: If we don’t learn to master our money, we will be mastered by our money.

To become a money master, we must first bring those unconscious wounds into conscious awareness. Next, we must bring compassion and forgiveness to those traumas and learn to have a healthy relationship with ourselves. The scars from those wounds may always linger, but we can stop transmitting the pain of that trauma through poor life choices and bad money habits. Only from a place of emotional and spiritual health can we ethically build wealth to help heal a broken and suffering world.

Since everyone has a unique life situation and childhood traumas, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for emotional and spiritual health. There are, however, nine trauma response patterns around which our egos form and create the lens through which we see the world. Understanding these patterns provides a roadmap for the inner exploration that everyone, rich or poor, must embark upon to reach a healthy relationship with themselves and money.

The map and compass for this inner journey is the Enneagram. The Enneagram guides us into the shadows in our minds, where unconscious assumptions about reality, created by our childhood wounds, drive our most self-defeating behaviors. It is in these shadows where our money monsters lurk and feed. A confrontation with our inner darkness is necessary to become a money master, a person with a healthy relationship with money who ethically builds wealth and uses their abundance as a tool for connection, love, and service.

At its core, the Enneagram helps explain who we are, why we are the way we are, and most importantly, what our unique core fear is that drives our unhealthy behavior. Once we know the answers to those questions, right action becomes easier to discern, and better money habits are likely to follow.

The goal of my forthcoming book, Become A Money Master: The Enneagram In Action, is to bring contemplation, compassion, and action together, to align money and spirituality in a practical way that honors the wisdom of our diverse religious traditions and equally honors the power of economics to build a better world. Contemplation is the tool that guides our inner life, money is a tool for action in the outer life, and compassion is the bridge between both worlds—ignoring the problem of money while on the spiritual adventure leaves us fractured or disempowered.

Money is a tool that can solve many problems, but it doesn’t heal trauma. Too often, we put our money to work trying to fix problems it can’t solve and create unnecessary suffering in the process. For example, as an Enneagram Type Three like my father (also called The Performer), I’d love to have a fancy car, even though I don’t care about cars. I want an expensive piece of highway eye candy to impress people.

From studying the Enneagram, however, I know the reasons for my Porsche envy. The truth is that I’m scared that I’m worthless and that my existence has no value, like all other Type Three’s. I have a deep inner shame that drives me to want worldly success and status symbols, and I unconsciously believe that I can validate my existence through possessions and achievements. Knowing this truth about myself helps me save money and planetary resources by committing to driving my reliable, decade-old Honda until the engine falls out. There is nothing wrong with having a nice car, but we often waste a lot of money and resources trying to heal ourselves by accumulating stuff, which never works.

The Attachment Theory of Money

To help people become money masters, I’ve joined the Enneagram with what I call the Attachment Theory of Money, which describes why and how we relate to money in three predictable yet unhealthy ways.4 As an investment advisor, I spend a lot of time talking with people about their money, and I see that most of my clients are either:

  • Anxiously attached to money (money-anxious)
  • Fearfully avoidant of it (money-avoidant)
  • A jumbled combination of both anxious and avoidant in different parts of their financial lives

The Attachment Theory of Money helps explain why we seek wealth out of anxiety or unconsciously push money away out of fear. It is common to be anxiously attached to money in one aspect of our lives but avoidant in another. We may even shift between anxious and avoidant, depending on the time of day and the stress of our circumstances. Becoming a money master requires a healthy, secure emotional relationship with money. We’ll discuss this theory in more detail in a future article, but it pairs well with the Enneagram, like a good wine with cheese.

Your Enneagram type describes the unique and quirky ways your money anxiety or avoidance manifests in your day-to-day life. There are nine archetypal personality types in the Enneagram, and when we layer on top of them the two primary options of being either money-anxious or money-avoidant to each of the nine Enneagram types, we can identify eighteen distinct “money monsters” that can derail your financial life.

The good news is that you only have one or two money monsters to tame. The trick is to accurately identify the ones you struggle with, understand their origin, and work towards healing the wounds that created both your money attachment style and the wounds that created your Enneagram personality type. Fortunately, there is a high probability that the same wounds caused both issues, which makes the project less complicated. It’s a “fix one problem, solve one free sale” if you do it right.

However, Become A Money Master is not a “how-to” guide on building wealth. For a detailed how-to resource for managing your finances, please refer to my first book, From Monk To Money Manager: A Former Monk’s Guide to Becoming a Little Bit Wealthy – And Why That’s Okay.

Become a Money Master is a “why do” book of psychological and spiritual insights that will reveal why you make unproductive decisions with your money, how to heal the wounds that drive those decisions, and grow into spiritual wholeness. Implementing the how-to tips for building wealth or using wealth effectively is difficult until you understand why you repeatedly make the same self-destructive financial mistakes.

Do you know that quote by Albert Einstein about insanity? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.” This book is designed to help you finally stop being insane about money. Exploring and healing our inner wounds is never easy, but the alternative is unnecessary suffering, especially the unconscious pain we transmit to those we love. With humor, humility, and compassion, your money monsters can be tamed to become the greatest allies on your financial journey and help make your money a force for good.

This isn’t about white-knuckling change or forcing yourself to act and behave like someone you are not. It’s about exploring the pain behind your deepest pain and learning how those wounds can become your greatest strength and source of purpose when healed. What awaits is your transformation into a money master, one who uses the energy of money in harmony with your unique personality to help love flow with abundance.

The Enneagram as the Physics of Consciousness

The Enneagram is more than a personality assessment tool, just as physics is more than a tool to build a rocket ship. Physics helps us explore and understand reality’s physical nature, while the Enneagram helps us explore reality’s spiritual nature.

Just as the laws of physics are a work in progress and were discovered through millennia of empirical observation, the Enneagram was discovered through generations of research into the nature of human consciousness. It has countless contributors in many cultures and religions but was primarily developed by a Bolivian philosopher, Oscar Ichazo (1931-2020), and a Chilean psychiatrist, Claudio Naranjo (1932-2019), in the latter half of the 20th century. Traces of it are ubiquitous throughout history when you know what to look for because, like physics, it has always been there whether we acknowledge it or not.

The pioneering discoveries of Ichazo and Naranjo into the structure of human personality were like the breakthroughs in physics of Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton. Just as the combined work of Galileo and Newton created a powerful model for understanding the universe’s physical laws, Ichazo and Naranjo created a powerful tool to understand the rules of human consciousness or personality.

However, a breakthrough in physics occurred when Albert Einstein realized that to understand gravity, we needed to add another dimension to the three-dimensional model of the universe developed by Galileo and Newton. Einstein then discovered the laws of four-dimensional space-time, significantly improving upon the prior three-dimensional model. This seemingly simple shift of adding an additional dimension to our understanding of the physical world is what produced the famous equation E=MC2 and much more.

Similarly, adding another dimension to the Enneagram opens new and exciting possibilities.5 However, exploring the Enneagram in three dimensions requires some modifications to traditional terminology and core concepts. Readers already familiar with the Enneagram should prepare for these changes, as they may cause consternation for some. Enneagram enthusiasts will benefit by approaching this book with a “Beginners Mind” that is willing to start over and see it from a fresh perspective.

The Enneagram as an Ecumenical Tool

One feature that makes the Enneagram so powerful is that it works elegantly in partnership with any sincere wisdom or religious tradition. It is, perhaps, unconsciously, the common ground upon which they all stand. While I’ve made a good faith effort to be as ecumenical and inclusive as possible, I can only speak authentically from my Christian wisdom tradition when discussing spiritual matters. Become A Money Master is not intended to be a book for Christians, although I enthusiastically hope they are drawn to it. Rather, I’ve tried to model how the Enneagram can map onto one, unique wisdom tradition, providing readers with a template they might follow for their personal spiritual practice—whatever that might be.

Presenting a Christian perspective in this book was, in fact, challenging because when I left a Catholic monastery after 20 years as a Benedictine monk, I did reasons that made me ashamed of my religious heritage, and I have little interest in revisiting old territory. With that understanding, and without condescending to religious imperialism, I hope I’ve pointed to what is beautiful about the Christian tradition.

The famous quote by TS Eliot in Four Quartets feels appropriate for the spiritual journey this book has taken me on:

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

To those who find any spiritual language objectionable or who think there is only one spiritual language humans are allowed to speak, I’d kindly remind them that the opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty. Consequently, atheism and fundamentalism are not opposites but two different expressions of the same understandable desire for certainty. While the Enneagram provides many things, certainty isn’t one of them. Rather, it deepens The Great Mystery and offers an appreciation for the ineffable interconnectedness of all.

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned from studying the Enneagram is that every time I’ve seriously hurt someone (including myself), it was because I was expressing an unhealthy aspect of my type, and every time someone has deeply wounded me, they were expressing an unhealthy trait of theirs. That truth makes becoming the healthiest expression of our Enneagram personality a moral imperative for us all.6

Doug Lynam is a partner at LongView Asset Management in Santa Fe and a former Benedictine monk. He is the author of From Monk to Money Manager: A Former Monk’s Financial Guide to Becoming A Little Bit Wealthy — And Why That’s Okay. Contact him at




4 The Attachment Theory of Money is based on the Attachment Theory of Relationships developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. It is, in fact, nearly identical to it, just with a different application.

5 Don Riso and Russ Hudson paired the Enneagram with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in The Wisdom of the Enneagram, creating a model that describes the levels of health for each Enneagram type. This is a three-dimensional model; however, the DSM pairing is what creates the third dimension, not the internal mechanics of the Enneagram itself. The Riso/Hudson framework for the mechanics of the Enneagram is still two-dimensional. Moreover, describing the levels of health for each type is not the same as detailing how to climb up the levels of health. The Shadow and Enlightenment Structures that I’ll present detail the psycho-spiritual ladder we are all called to climb and how we move up or down on it, while the Riso/Hudon framework tells us what the view looks like from each rung. Furthermore, I suspect that much could be gained by pairing this book with the DSM work of Riso and Hudson.



Copyright Doug Lynam 2024

Doug Lynam is a former Marine, Benedictine monk, and investment advisor. He is the author of From Monk to Money Manager: A Former Monk’s Financial Guide to Becoming A Little Bit Wealthy — And Why That’s Okay. He is now a full-time writer and an Enneagram and money coach. Contact him at