Dancing with your money demons

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My relationship to money has always been a complex one. The past few months I’ve started to work on changing my relationship with money. It takes time and is not an easy process. I realised you can’t change your relationship with money without changing your beliefs about money. In order to change your limiting beliefs about money you need to be prepared to dig deep and do the inner work. You have to start facing your demons, your fears about money.

I would like to share with you what I’ve learned so far on the journey:

Barbara Stanny shared in an interview, Sacred Success, with Chantel Pierrad that there are three types of work when it comes to your finance:

  1. Outer work – This work is about meeting with a financial advisor and drawing up a financial plan, putting the necessary insurance or risk cover in place, etc. that will fit your needs and support your goals.
  2. Inner work – Reflecting and reviewing your attitudes / beliefs about money as well as the decisions you make about money.
  3. Higher work – We are all on earth for a purpose. Money is a great tool to assist you in making the change. When you make more money it can assist you in creating bigger change. Reflect on how money can support your vision and calling.

Unpacking my finances from the three different levels opened new ways for me to think about money.

During my ‘outer work’ journey I had a very interesting conversation with my financial advisor. He asked me whether I wanted to retire or if I wanted to be financially independent? Wow! That question made me face a limiting belief I had about money. I realised that my view of looking and thinking about investment and retirement are very narrow. I learned that ‘the concept of “financial independence” should not be connected to retirement.’ Talking with him and reading his article about paving the way to financial independence made me realise that I needed to make a mind-shift about money and investment. I also became aware of the importance of having a person you trust to support you with that mind-shift.

My ‘inner work’ quest led me to another pod cast of Chantel Pierrad from Emerging Women. This time she talked with Nancy Levin about how to boost your self worth to grow your net worth. What stood out for me was that money issues are directly related to self-worth. That we need to stop putting our worthiness in the hands of others or measure it by the amount of money we have. Self-worth start inwards. It starts with self-love. To grow your self-worth you need to start doing what you are scared to do and face your demons.

Learning: When you start to face your demons, that what you fear, it can no longer control you. You experience more energy, you stop giving away your power and you start to grow more into your true self (your calling).

 Healing question: How are you trying to prove your worth?

Money, body and soul

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When it comes to money matters things aren’t always simple. Thinking or talking about money evokes different thoughts, feelings, and even bodily sensations. Pride, anger, jealousy, anxiety, shame and sadness are among the emotions that frequently occur, accompanied with a shortness of breath, tightening of the chest and jaw. What is it about money, a neutral medium of exchange that was created by humans to make the sharing of our services simpler, that it creates such an emotional and physical response?

A few years ago I was the Deputy Director of Student Fees and Debtors at a University. Hearing the stories of a diverse range of students and parents about why they can’t settle their student account made me aware of the complexities around money. There was always a very personal story behind the request for funding. A story that is born out of a culture that values money more than human life, relationships and the soul. As I heard their stories it touched me on a physical and emotional level. The reason being that a certain aspect of their stories resonated with parts of my story about money. A common theme started to emerge that I could not quite grasp at that stage but only recently understood after listening to the insightful audiobook Unleashing the Soul of Money by Lynne Twist.

In her book Lynne states that money issues are not as personal as we think. ‘We’ve all been wounded in our relationship with money. They are entangled in the lies we live about money.’ She continues to explain that the source of our suffering is embedded in following three unconscious unexamined lies or myths:

  1. There is not enough. We tend to think there is not enough time, money, food, sex, vacation, work, etc. Later we allow these thoughts to come into our soul. We then start to think that ‘I’m not enough’. This type of thinking implies that someone is going to be left out. We start to fear scarcity. Which in turn justifies our actions of only taking care of us and constantly trying to accumulate more.
  2. More is better. We have an unending quest for more. We want more cars, money, bigger houses, more clothes, education, etc. The result is that we accumulate more of what we don’t really need. It is difficult to not fall into this trap as research suggests that the Media bombards us with approximately 30 000 messages a day telling us, you need more and are not enough. More has become a way of life.
  3. That is just the way it is. This type of thinking that ‘there is not enough’ and ‘more is better’ leads to the third lie that this is just the way life is and we stop questioning the myths and start to believe it.

As I listened to these myths about money I could see how the fear of scarcity is at the root of creating a world where people don’t have enough. I realised that I do have a choice how I want to think about money and the meaning I want to assign it. I can change my relationship with money from ‘not having enough’ to sufficiency by changing the conversation I have about money with others and myself.

Life does not always give us what we want but it does give us exactly what we need to learn and grow. Lynne Twist calls it the principle of sufficiency and explains it as such:

When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need. It frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. You start to pay attention to what you already have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands.

 In my coaching sessions I  became aware that when people speak from a place of ‘being enough’ and tapping into their inner riches, they become more calm, content and their body opens up. The space of sufficiency creates space for possibilities to open up.

I would like to invite you to tap into your tapestry of experiences and relationships, become aware of what you already have. Let go of the unnecessary accumulation of more. Look at the areas where you have abundance in your life, where there is an overflow. Start to explore how sharing some of the things you don’t really need can create a place where there is enough for us all. A new culture that values sufficiency not abundance. A culture that does not determine our value by what we have but the life we live. Wherein we believe that who we are is enough.

Financial stress during the festive season

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With the holidays coming up, one would assume that it would be a time of relaxation and fun for everyone. If you don’t feel as joyous as the Christmas carols that are playing in the shops don’t feel alone. Many people are experiencing a lot of financial stress this time of the year, they just don’t always talk about it.

If you can’t afford to go on the trip overseas or treat your family with a summer holiday or spoil your partner with a special dinner, it’s normal. Don’t allow your feelings of inadequacy or feeling like a failure take away the one special gift that only you can give – you. Don’t allow your financial stress to overwhelm you in a way that you can’t be present to yourself and those you love.

In my own life I’ve experienced different types of financial stress and witnessed loved ones go through periods of severe financial uncertainty. I’m not out of the woods yet but what I’ve learned is that money can’t buy everything. Yes, money can buy peace of mind and lovely holidays and lots of things we enjoy doing. But money can only control you if you allow it to. You can decide if financial stress is going to rob you of you. You will be surprised of the abundance of support that is ready to surround you if you allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to it.

Money can also not buy time or take it away. It remains your choice as how you want to use your time. I urge you to use it to reconnect with yourself and deepen your relationship with others. It does not cost anything. It only asks that you slow down and be present. Use this holiday to take long walks in nature and listen to the wisdom that it has to offer.

You may feel disappointed or bored by the idea of staying at home during the festive season. You may be thinking ‘what can be worse?’ What is worst is if you moan through it and focus your attention on everything you don’t have. I would like to invite you to focus on the things you do have. Even if it is just you! How can you view this festive season as an opportunity to be creative, on how to have fun and connect with others by spending the least money? I’m certainly going to try.

Learning: You can decide if financial stress is going to rob you of you.

 Healing question: How can you not allow your financial stress to overwhelm you in a way that you can’t be present to yourself and those you love?

The sandwiches of life; jam, peanut butter or polony.

sandwichWhen I was five years old I first became aware of the social impact of money and the unequal income distribution in South Africa. The custom in my pre-primary school was that lunch sandwiches were provided on a rotational basis for the class. We all had a turn to fill up the large Tupperware holder with sandwiches for the class.

The kids from affluent families brought polony with tomato sauce sandwiches. In those days polony was expensive and only for the rich. The middle-income group could only enjoy it on high days and holidays. Peanut butter with jam sandwiches were also a luxury but more affordable than polony. The kids from the middle-income group usually brought peanut butter with jam sandwiches for the class. The plain jam sandwiches were from the poor kids.

The sandwiches became a status symbol. On the days when we got polony sandwiches everyone played with the rich kid even though he was rude to others. Sometimes when we got jam sandwiches, the kid who was responsible for the sandwiches was absent (her mother only came to drop off the sandwiches). With the sandwiches feelings of shame, jealousy or pride were (unconsciously) served. Instead of just viewing the sandwich as a means to feed our hunger, it started to distort how we viewed others and ourselves.

At five years old, I knew that my family was not rich because I did not bring polony sandwiches to school. I remember thinking how unfair it was that some kids were admired and others bullied based on the type of sandwich they brought to class. Now that I’m nearly 35 it seems as if the playground has not changed much. The sandwiches are just replaced with other items such as cars, houses, clothes, the area you live in, etc. We still (sometimes more consciously than other times) judge others and ourselves based on the ‘sandwiches of life’.

Learning: It is just a sandwich don’t let it define who you are. You are so much more than a sandwich.

Healing question: How do I allow the sandwiches of life to define me?