This is part 3 of a multi-part series on money, prosperity, clarity, and anything else that came up as I wrote it. To see the Main Page for this series, click here.(Note: This is a long post. I know that the unofficial blogging law is to write short posts. (There’s also a blogging law (recommended by the best bloggers out there) about not using “cutesy titles,” but clearly I’ve ignored that law.) I like long posts. You can always print these out and read them when you have time later. Or email them to yourself or a friend with the link at the bottom of each post.)
Back when I was in college, I was in an eating disorders support group. I remember a few of us complaining that an eating disorder was a crappy addiction to have to work through, and that alcoholics are “lucky” because at least they can remove the offending substance from their lives. (We were a bit skewed.) We wished we could just stop eating in the same way a recovering alcoholic could stop drinking. Food is an inevitable part of everyday life. The idea of developing a healthy relationship to it seemed impossible.
Now, looking back, I’m grateful for that challenge because over time, I examined, rebuilt and redefined my relationship with food and with my body. It was a blessing that I couldn’t just cut anything out. I had to deal with it day after day, minute by minute. It was one of the vehicles that led me to do all things from a more conscious place. I believe doctors do a huge disservice to women with eating disorders when they prescribe anti-depressants and other symptom-suppressing drugs because this tactic ignores the strength a woman can gain from really examining herself and her food, even as painful as that process can be. Symptoms tell us so much about ourselves. For me, the result of delving deeply into those symptoms is that I have a healthier relationship with food now than I would have had without having to go through this.
Money is the same way. No matter how you try to avoid it, it’s an inevitable energy that you have to work with in this culture and society. Day by day and minute by minute, you have opportunities to work on your relationship with money. I finally got brave and worked deeply on this relationship the same way I did with food, and the results have been profound. I began to attract more money, I became more comfortable with money, and I began to recognize when I was acting out of avoidance, fear or emotion. The process is always shifting as I continue to change and grow. Some of the ideas below have led me to a deeper and better understanding of my relationship with money.
What are Your Old Beliefs and Patterns About Money?
Have you ever actually identified all of the thoughts you have about money? Have you ever just written out a list of all the random judgments and unexamined beliefs you have floating around in your head? Have you ever faced them head on and actually asked, “Is this even true?” Some, maybe most, of our beliefs have absolutely no truth to them at all. Maybe they were once true, but no longer serve who you are now.
It’s like the story of the woman who was teaching her daughter how to make a roast, and she cut off the ends of the roast before she put it in the oven . When her daughter asked her why she cut the ends off, the mother said, “I don’t know. That’s just what my mother always did.” And when the daughter called her grandmother to ask why she had done that, the grandmother said, “My pan was too small.”
For a long time I held the belief (very deep and unconscious) that you had to have a job to make money. Absolutely false. I made more money after only two years of performing than I did working at a PR firm full-time when I graduated from college. (And my income has only grown since then.) More and more you can find blogs written by people who chose to go against the “get a job” belief and make money in other innovative ways. Here’s a great one. And here’s another.
Use your journal, and write down all of the old beliefs you hold. This could take some time to complete, as some of these beliefs might be hidden.
A few examples might be:
I have to work really hard to get money.
I need a husband (or a wife) to take care of me financially.
Spiritual teachers/alternative healers /artists(insert your own thing) shouldn’t ask for much money.
Artists can’t make a good living.
I’m no good with money.
There’s never enough.
Make your own list. It might be long. And some of the thoughts may contradict one another. It is liberating to actually confront some of these deeply ingrained beliefs and recognize the power they hold over you. You now have a choice whether or not to keep them. Be patient with yourself. It might take a while to fully dismantle some of them.
After you’ve uncovered old beliefs, you can work with them, and then consciously shift them into more affirming beliefs. This is how to work with affirmations. Take one of your old beliefs and re-word it into a positive statement. Then affirm this new belief over and over again, preferably aloud. Some people swear by this process. I’ve been learning more about affirmations in the last two years. I think people give up on them too soon. They expect that after, say, two days of affirming, the belief that they’ve had for 32 years should suddenly go away. Affirmations are a part of the process of discipline. I believe they work, but when they start to work, it might look like they’re not working.
Two things about Affirmations:
1. Once you start saying an affirmation, it uncovers and brings out anything unlike it in your field of beliefs. This is why so many people give up on affirmations. If you’re affirming, “I now create total financial success” over and over again, eventually every part of you that doesn’t believe this statement will come up to fight it. You then have the choice to look at the “new” old belief that has arisen and shift your affirmation and diligently continue, or to cave into this new old belief. This is the stopping point for many people. It can get very thick and very challenging if you want to uncover all of these inner blocks you have created.
2. You might need to shape each affirmation so that it clicks into place and really works for you. I think people may sabotage the whole affirmation thing by biting off more than their subconscious can chew. If you’re barely scraping by, just trying to make enough from your waitressing job to allow you to write your novel, and then you start affirming, “I am now a multi-millionaire,” the resistance that comes up may be too much for you to handle. (Not to mention your subconscious will laugh at you.) If that’s the case, then maybe start with something smaller, easier to digest, like “I always have more than enough money, ” or “I now create financial well-being in my life.” You’ll feel the “click” in yourself of the right and do-able affirmation. When you find it, be diligent in using it whenever you can.
One of my successes with affirmations was with a case of poison ivy. I get poison ivy every summer. Some cases are truly hell and many of them have required steroids, which I can’t stand. So last summer, when I got a bad case, I looked in Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life for the “right” affirmation for poison ivy. I used it, but nothing happened. I stayed very present to the poison ivy and continued affirming and breathing (and turning away from the problem). As I did this, I intuitively felt the urge to change the affirmation to my own words. I kept shifting it throughout the day until finally one “clicked.” When I said it out loud, I could almost feel my whole body respond with a “Yes, that’s the one.” And within three days, the poison ivy was almost gone.
If you continue to feel stuck after affirmations and uncovering old beliefs, then there may be other blockages that will require some practical steps on your part. There may be a need to mend old wounds or unconscious behaviors or incompletes.
Cleaning Up Your Past
In a previous post, I wrote about the energy of clutter. All of the negativity we hold onto accumulates into stuff. This stuff can be a huge energy drain in your life. But it’s not just physical stuff that can drain you in the present moment. It can be old unpaid debts, unconscious choices you made, or other places where you still haven’t forgiven yourself.
When I was a teenager, I stole things. I stole make-up, shoes, sweaters, beer, kitschy stuff from Hallmark stores. The list is long. I went through a shoplifting phase like you wouldn’t believe. Some might say, “Oh Lord, all teenagers go through a shoplifting phase.” But I don’t take it that lightly. I had tried to just dismiss it and forgive it, but about six years ago, the shame of having gone through that period still haunted me in ways I couldn’t even detect.
I was working with an amazing coach at the time who kept seeing a shame pattern in me around money and finally called me on it. When I told him about the shoplifting phase, he helped me into a new phase of “making amends” which lasted several months. I wrote down every single place I had ever stolen anything from, then I estimated a monetary amount (adding on for interest and inflation). Then I called people. I called the stores, the shops, the owners, the current management. I spoke with them and wrote checks to them. If it sounds painful and horrifying, you’re right. But it was also deep and amazing and liberating. Most of the people were kind and gracious and congratulated me on being bold. Some of them didn’t want me to write them checks, but wanted me to send the check to a favorite charity in their name.
I can say without any hesitation that doing this one process with the support of a loving and encouraging person was the single most important step in shifting my relationship with money. It required courage, and it required that I quit judging my past unconsciousness and do something about it. And it lifted an enormous burden that I had carried with me for years.
Cleaning Up Your Present
Where is your money now? Do you have random change in your pockets, unpaid bills on your desk next to you as you type? Are there checks sitting around that you haven’t deposited? Is your cash all shoved into your wallet in a big wad surrounded by receipts and business cards?
Clean it up. I know it’s tempting to think this stuff doesn’t matter, but it’s the easiest and most practical way to tell your subconscious that you know how to handle money and that you’d be a good recipient for more.
In her fabulous book Take Time for Your Life, Cheryl Richardson writes that organizing and cleaning up your financial act sends a signal to the universe that you are a good steward for more money. “In my experience of working with thousands of people on money issues over the last fifteen years, I am convinced that the secret to creating the abundance you desire is very simple: once you take full responsibility for your financial health, money stops being a source of frustration and starts to flow into your life naturally.”
Creating Systems and Containers
I learned this concept from Lenedra Carroll (singer-songwriter Jewel’s mom/manager) who wrote one of my all-time favorite books, The Architecture of All Abundance. She writes that money “responds on the physical level to structure and plans. It is made visible in tangible systems. Money needs containers. One of those containers is a good financial system. The system can be simple or complex, but for money to be sticky – to stick with us – it needs a grid to attach to. That system requires clarity, discipline, and order.”
The idea of budgeting and planning and creating accounts and systems is anathema to artists and creative types, but it’s imperative for a sustainable career. Learn how to think and face it head on. Again, it doesn’t have to be complex. My system is very simple, but it works even when I’m taking some time off from the road to write.
Some of this stuff might seem overwhelming at first. It’s a balance of the practical work you have to face and becoming aware of the hidden thoughts and beliefs that work behind the scenes. Set your intent, and begin. The rewards are worth it.