Money, body and soul

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Photo: unsplash.com

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.

It takes time and patience to create everlasting value

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A few days ago I visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History to find inspiration. I’m in the process of a career change and am mastering a new profession. I know that I’m on the right track but that does not mean that the journey is always easy. I was becoming impatient with the time it takes to change. The exhibition that amazed me was the ‘Glass Flower’ collection. It is an internationally acclaimed display of about 3 000 glass models of different plants. The flowers are made entirely of glass! It is made with extreme precision. No detail is overseen. As I was admiring the plants and flowers, I could not help but think about the enormous amount of time and patience it took to create these perfect representations.

It took Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolf, nearly 50 years to create all the glass models. Professor Goodale commissioned them in 1887, as he wanted life-like representatives of plants to use in teaching Botany at Harvard. I must agree with him it is a perfect way to learn about flowers, as they are three-dimensional and always in bloom! I wished I could have observed them when I had to study Biology at school. What struck me was that these flowers, which were created more than 100 years ago, are still valuable today.

Nowadays it feels as if everything must happen quickly with as little effort possible. We want a quick return on our investment. We want to start our own company but are not willing to give it three years to become financially sustainable. We want to be the best in what we do but become impatient if we don’t improve quickly enough. We want to be valued but are not always willing to invest the time and patience needed in our relationships. We become impatient when things take time. However, learning a new profession, developing a new concept, starting a company and building relationships take time and patience. I do realise that money may play an important role as well. Money can (in certain cases) buy time. Without the financial investment of the Wares the Blaschkas would not have been able to work full time to create the glass flowers. However, they still needed the patience to perfect their craft. They had to try over and over to discover the best method to create the models.

In the end the visit to the museum provided me with the inspiration I needed to carry on with my journey. I realise that if we want to change or create something, we need to bear in mind that it takes time and patience to create everlasting value.