Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Truth About Money

money.jpgI grew up in a family where money ruled the roost. My parents fought, and eventually divorced, over money, my mother spent wildly on herself and used money as control over me and my sister, and my father did everything that he could to avoid paying for things that he used. He didn’t necessarily steal, per se, but, for example, instead of paying for trash recollection he would make everyone leaving our house take at least one bag of garbage to any dump that they could find. That “everyone,” by the way, included potential boyfriends, which was the bane of my teenage existence. But, I digress.

The point is that I didn’t grow up with a strong sense of what to do about money. I saw money as something that caused conflict, but, also, as something that I needed. So, I guess you could say that my relationship with money was complicated. I liked the things that money could buy, but whenever I bought something, I would feel guilt and regret. And there was always a nagging sense that there wouldn’t be enough, no matter how much money I made.

I know that many can relate to what I’m saying, since I see it now in so many of my clients. Couples fight over money. Individuals fear losing money. People use the numbers in their bank accounts to engender a false sense of security, or, a skewed reason for self-hatred, while others eschew the green stuff altogether.

But, there is hope.

I can honestly say, that with the exception of a very few times where something else was actually bothering me, and money was a convenient scapegoat, I haven’t worried about finances in years. And it’s not because we are drowning in dollars either! It’s because I’ve learned to approach money with a sense of Faith, that I never had growing up.

What do I mean by Faith?

Two Things: God, and the Universe.

Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that the Universe did not want me to be poor. Now, I know that sounds awful, considering the fact that there are so many millions of people that are way worse off financially than I am. And, no, I don’t know why those people have to suffer. I don’t pretend to understand all of the laws of the Universe, and I feel greatly for people who have no access to things like running water, or clean sheets. But, for some reason, I also know, that I was born into a relatively wealthy family, and that poverty is not one of my life lessons this time around. (I’m guessing that if you are reading this, it’s probably not one of yours either.)

What is one of my life lessons, however, is to trust that there will always be enough, even when that seems impossible. The first time that I was presented with this information, was 10 years ago, after moving to North Carolina. The move had proven costly, and my husband and I were a couple hundred dollars short for the month. We really didn’t know how we were going to pay all of our bills, without going in the red. That’s when a miracle happened. One thousand dollars, yes, you read that right, $1000, spontaneously showed up in our bank account with no explanation. I called the bank and asked where the money came from, and they said that someone had deposited a check into our account. I told them that this must have been a mistake, but the bank said that the depositor would have to call them and ask for the money back. At first, I thought that this gift would simply be the buffer to get us through that tough month. I gave thanks, while constantly checking the bank to see if the money disappeared.

It never did.

After that incident, I began to notice all of the smaller, yet, still significant things that happened every month to make sure that we always had enough. One person not cashing a check right away, some extra books selling, or receiving an unexpected discount were not uncommon occurrences. One way or another, money just seemed to be there when we needed it most.

Somewhere during this time, I was introduced to the work of Lynn Twist, who wrote the groundbreaking book called, “The Soul of Money.” To say that this book changed my life would be an understatement. Through this book, I learned that the best way to react when money gets tight, is to give it away. This lubricates the wheels of the Universal cycles, and allows more money to flow back to you. Whereas, our natural reaction to being tight may be hold on to what we have even tighter, we actually need to do the opposite in order to step into prosperity. It’s an amazing concept, and I’ve seen it work again and again.

Lynn’s book also taught me to think more about where and how I spend my money. She says that our spending should reflect our values. Think: spending $20 to support a local artist, vs. spending $20 to buy a print at Walmart. Supporting the local artist feels better, and might even encourage said artist to create more, while the money spent at Walmart supports child labor and low wages for poorly treated staff.

By far the best thing that Lynn’s work reinforced for me was the idea that scarcity is a lie, and that abundance is the truth. She spoke about the very things that I was noticing; how there is always enough, and how money is like water that flows where it is needed.

And so, I made a decision, about 8 years ago, to not worry about money anymore. There just wasn’t a point. When I thought about it, I realized that I always had enough. I never let a bill go unpaid. And I always had a roof over my head, electricity, and enough food to eat; plus, many other luxuries that I’m outrageously grateful for. Worrying about money just wasn’t worth my time, and, in the end, I haven’t missed it at all.   


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