Updated: Jun 2, 2019
Let me tell you about my money story.
I was raised very Catholic. I went to Catholic primary school, CCD on Sundays, participated in Lent, Ash Wednesday, no meat on Fridays, a vow of silence on Good Friday, and confession every time I had an unkind thought (which was quite a bit, since I'm a human being). I would help my mom deliver the Eucharist to home-bound parishioners and to community members in the Meals on Wheels program. I prayed every night and pretty much adopted the Golden Rule as my life mantra.
The beliefs I inherited around money were that if you had no money, you are virtuous and a good person, just like Jesus. You dressed in rags and wore flip flops in the desert. And like Jesus, if you had any extra money, you gave it away to those in need. So inadvertently and subconsciously, that meant that if I had money or more than my share, I was a bad person.
I had been unknowingly operating under this premise my whole life. It formed the basis for all my decisions. Heck, it is even why I became a public librarian, one of the only professions in the world that does not deal with direct commerce. We give everything away for free!
What this looked like in numbers was that no matter how much money I made, I would always spend it down to zero. I thought I was just "really bad" with money. I didn't understand why my bank account would be down to zero every month, even when I earned pay raises or made extra income with side jobs.
When I finally saw that I had been operating from this false premise, it blew my mind.
It makes perfect sense that a person who is operating under the premise that having money means that you're a bad person, would unconsciously make sure that they never had any money in their bank account. Why would you do anything that would prove that you're a bad person? When I finally saw that I had been operating from this false premise, it blew my mind.
It is crazy how fast your behavior changes when you have an insight like this one. This morning, I paid off a credit card debt that I had thought would not be paid off until four months from now. I looked at the numbers in my account and did the math. I had the money to do it. There was no longer any guilt attached to paying off the debt.
In the past, paying off my debt would have sent me into a spending spree. I would physically feel uncomfortable at not owing any money, at having enough. My stomach would clench, and I would get a manic hyper feeling of energy coursing through my body that could only be resolved by spending money, putting myself back in debt. Because having enough, or even more than enough, was a sign that I am not virtuous. I am greedy. I am taking from others.
I didn't get here on my own. I'm currently taking a business course called, A Whole New Way of Thinking about Business, with Michael Neill. This week, we did several exercises around money that cracked my mind wide open about my money story.
I'll share with you one of the powerful exercises that we did:
Take a bill out of your wallet or purse or wherever you keep such things. A $20, $10, $5, or even $1 bill. Though, the higher the number on the bill, the better.
Roll the bill around in your hand. Crinkle it, fold it, feel it, flap it up and down like a fan. Really notice how this bill resembles a piece of paper. It feels like paper, it looks like paper, it acts like paper. Then, just hold the bill still in your hand.
Now, state out loud, all of the things that you believe money can do for you.
Money will give me freedom.
Money will make me happy.
Money will solve all my problems.
Money will get me a loving partner.
Money will give me more free time.
Money will provide me a secure and safe life.
Then, bring your attention back to the bill in your hand. Roll it around again. Crinkle it. Flap it up and down. See that this money is really just a piece of paper.
Now, repeat all of the belief statements that you had about money again, but this time imagine that you're saying them about a piece of paper.
This piece of paper will give me freedom.
This piece of paper will make me happy.
This piece of paper will solve all my problems.
This piece of paper will get me a loving partner.
This piece of paper will give me more free time.
This piece of paper will provide me a secure and safe life.
It's funny, right? I laughed out loud the first time I did this exercise. When put in this way, I realized how ridiculous my beliefs about money were. Basically, how I attributed this piece of paper to everything that was important in my life.
So you might be thinking, Yea, it's just a piece of paper, but I still need money to pay the bills, have a house, eat food, and provide me with the comforts I need.
Those things are true. You have needs. Money can address your needs. The distinction is between needs and neediness. Treating money as if its anything more than a piece of paper is operating from a place of neediness.
Money is nothing more than an energetic exchange of value between two people. It used to be that we exchanged chickens for goats. Now we exchange paper bills, credit card numbers or bitcoin for goods and services. But really it is as simple as trading chickens for goats. If we went back to that system, it's unlikely that we would think thoughts like, this chicken is going to give me freedom. This chicken will solve all my problems. Or in my case, if I have too many chickens, then I am a bad person.
The beliefs we have around money are just thoughts. They are not solid. When we can detach our beliefs from the paper in our hands, we see that it just comes down to math. We can make big financial decisions as calmly and with as much common sense as small decisions. Will I get the venti or grand latte? Can I afford that mountain bike or not? Whether you have the money or not, does not mean anything about you as a person.
I am still wrapping my head around the concept of seeing money as energy. I used to hear that phrase and it never landed for me. For the first time, though, I can see the truth behind it. Money is money-- paper or plastic or numbers on the screen.
The thoughts we have about money are energy. Energy is the life force behind everything in our world, it animates us, the plants, the animals. This energetic life force comes from something greater than us, from Source. Therefore, money comes from Source, the Universe, or God. It is just part of the divine flow of it all.
Want to dive in even deeper to your own Money Story?
Join me for the month of August for the Love Money Shift.
Early Bird Rate Ends: July 1, 2019