Last week I referenced a quote from Will Smith that is extremely relevant to the way we think when we’re struggling with money:
People have lots of ideas about how they would want money to amplify things in a positive way, but what nagged at me for the rest of the week were all of the ways that money has amplified the negative aspects of me in my past.
Money Amplified The Bad Stuff
When I started making really good money, I didn’t feel abundant because I was completely unconscious about what I was spending money on. I wasted a lot of money by trying to project a certain image or trying to make people feel a certain way about me—and all of this was at an unconscious level, I only understood what I was doing when I started becoming aware of myself! Some of the crazy things I’ve done include:
- Buying a house hoping it would bring my loved one and I closer.
- Paying for happy hour drinks for my trainees multiple times per week
- Traveling around the country for the better part of a year to shadow a mentor
- Giving away thousands of dollars to friends who “needed” my help
This doesn’t even include random purchases; this is just the stuff I can point back to that demonstrates a significant investment or output. One might think that these were isolated incidents and hey, if you have the money, why not?
But here’s the thing: if I looked closely at my history—even before I was making good money–I ALWAYS made bad decisions about housing . . . in my twenties, I saw it as an opportunity to achieve greater intimacy with my chosen mate. It sounds crazy to me now, but that’s how I saw cohabitation. I never once thought that I should feel intimately connected to someone BEFORE I lived with them.
And my codependency, my willingness to put other people before myself was simply amplified with more money. People thought I was being generous, and so did I. But it was a pattern of trying to get something from other people that I wasn’t giving myself.
I also think about other people and what they amplify … Bill Gates built a philanthropic foundation, but he also has the beach sand on the bank of his Lake Washington home barged in annually from a tropical beach in St. Lucia. I can only speculate as to what that amplification represents to him.
How Struggling With Money Can Be A Blessing
When I went through a period of transition where very little money was coming in, I noticed that no one was as generous with me as I had been with them. A lot of my “friends” disappeared or moved on. But I started to realize in the midst of freaking out, that I actually needed relatively little money to survive. And I realized that the ways I had spent money in the past were not serving me.
I used this period of my life to decide how I wanted my money to function for me. And even in the midst of financial hardship, I knew that I couldn’t wait to feel better. Here are the steps that helped me move out of struggling with money and into a relationship that I trust won’t amplify dysfunctional dynamics:
Accept where you’re at. The biggest issue I see isn’t necessarily that people can’t pay their bills, it’s that they resist their current situation because they feel like it isn’t where they “should” be. Or with me, I didn’t WANT to curb my lifestyle! Everything became easier once I let go and told myself, “This is where I am at right now. It might not be where I want to be, but this is a temporary situation and I can handle it.” I still had to cut expenses and be extremely careful with my money, but I didn’t resist the process anymore.
Develop a practice. Money problems can easily make us spiral downward emotionally and energetically, so when I had money troubles, I set aside an hour every single day to recharge and realign my thoughts—some approaches I used follow below, as well as journaling, listening to guided meditations and energy work.
Amplify the good every day. Some people call it a gratitude journal, but when I was starting out, it was much easier for me to simply make a list in response to the heading, “What I like about today …” Some days, the list started with my kitties, and I had to think about my day up until that point in minute detail to recall helpful people, nice emails, and all of the little things that were good. But I still did it, every day.
Stop comparing. Regardless of how much money or how successful you currently feel, comparison is one of the ways you’ll always get into the energy of lack. You have a unique journey, and it doesn’t serve anyone to compare yourself to others. If you have to delete emails, limit contact or change your routine to stop comparing yourself, do it.
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Allow yourself to vent. If something bad happens, you have to get those emotions out. Give yourself 5 minutes to be pissed, irritated or whatever. It takes only 90 seconds to fully feel an emotion. Then you can choose to feel better. I use ICanHasCheezBurger for this, or turn on dance music for a few minutes.
Stop worrying. Worrying is a bad habit, and people worry regardless of how much money they have. People who are struggling to make ends meet think they’ll stop worrying when they have more money, but it never happens. You have to choose to cut off the worry habit BEFORE you have more money. The best way I found to stop is when I catch myself worrying, ask myself, “Can I do anything about this right now?” If the answer is no, then I move on.
Stick to the present moment. Your perception of reality is an abstract expectation of yourself…and your perception of the future is just a story. Keep reminding yourself that everything you tell yourself MAY NOT BE TRUE. And always bring it back to the present moment: “Is it true that in this moment, I don’t have enough money to eat/pay a bill/whatever?” What I found when I struggled to pay bills was that it might be true that I could not pay a bill when I wanted to, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t pay the bill at all.
Trust the future and yourself. When we’re in the midst of struggle, we tend to think that it’s all our fault and that we’re failures—which is exactly when we need to be gentle with ourselves! If you can always maintain the attitude that “this current state is only temporary,” then you’ll be able to continue to move forward with the steps you need to take to make it happen.
Look for the growth. When I would become especially frustrated with struggling with money, I would ask myself, “What growth am I achieving from this current situation?” And the answer would always be something to do with valuing myself more and building healthier relationships with those around me.
Actions This Week
- Get Clear. What are you allowing to be foggy in your financial life? You can’t accept it, make changes and move forward until you’re crystal clear about what is happening NOW.
- Take Stock. What are the situations that cause you to worry or feel like you’re struggling, and how can you respond differently in those moments?
- Identify Alternate Activities. People might think I was joking, but whenever I felt bad, I would take a timeout to feel better. Dancing, a walk around the block, or a funny website can make all the difference.
Do you want to experience more ease with money? You might like my free ebook, Money Chakra, which helps people understand their energy and how to eliminate their money blocks. You can download that here.