We all look at money and finances through different lenses. In fact most of our money issues have nothing to do with money at all, they have to do with the lens through which we look at money.
This is why most of our financial transformation comes from examining, challenging and changing the lens through which we view financial matters.
Have you ever noticed how many issues money creates in relationships? People who love each other struggle with
- having different financial priorities,
- keeping money secrets from each other,
- comparing levels of income,
- not talking about money,
- having separate finances due to lack of trust, and
- having unsecured debt looming over them.
Each of these struggles is not actually about money. They are about the lens through which we view money and financial matters: a lens of distrust, shame and fear.
Let's, for a moment, think that we have the basics covered. Let's imagine we have enough money to feed ourselves and to pay for shelter, and we have a little bit left over each week to spend on ourselves.
Now, if we change our lens from distrust and fear into something non-threatening, and
put the above struggles into a completely random context, oh let's say knitting, you would soon realize that the money-related relationship issues themselves are not an issue:
- Does it matter if you knit socks or a scarf?
- Do you still need to hide how much you knitted today from your partner?
- Does it still matter which one of you knits more?
- Does talking about knitting give you heart palpitations?
- Do you still knit separately because you don't trust your partner?
- If you needed a scarf to stay warm, would you borrow money to knit the flashiest scarf anyone has ever seen or would you find a practical material to make a versatile, multipurpose scarf?
You are now realizing that many of your money-related relationship issues are actually around power and freedom. You see, the problem is that we equate money with freedom and power. We feel powerful when we have money to spend, because we feel free to spend it as we wish. Now, imagine if we would only feel powerful and free if we had loads of things that we had knitted. It sounds funny, I know! That's why it's important to not look for power and freedom from money, or indeed from knitting. It's important that we find the freedom and power within ourselves!
When we learn how to generate freedom and power from within ourselves, nobody can take them away from us. When we generate these feelings from within, we will never run out of them. Nor will we be at the mercy of others, because we no longer rely on others to deliver personal power or freedom to us.
To generate personal power and freedom is to live in integrity with ourselves. When we practice personal integration, we show up to the table (or the knitting circle) from a place of kindness, care and support toward ourselves and others. We stop seeing our partner as a 2-dimensional being that is a financial threat. Instead, we see them as the person that they are, and we begin to seek to understand their point of view with money. Effectively, we become much more empathetic around money. All because we decided to integrate.
This integration process takes time. It's not a quick fix. Remember, we want to integrate to live in integrity with ourselves. We don't want to take a spiritual bypass and pretend that knowing a principle is the same thing as living by it. Pretending we have changed will only leave us having to continue to have to deal with the same issue over and over again.
Until we begin the integration process, we will continue to have issues around money and relationships. Here are 3 steps you can take straight away to start your personal integration:
1. Identify your 2 deepest core values. A great way to find out what they are is to look at what you spend most of your time and money on. What we are looking for is an essence, not the actual act. For example, you might be spending most money on your mortgage, but your core value is not to hand over the money to the bank. It might be providing a loving home for your family. So, your core value could be a loving family.
2. Ask your partner about their 2 core values. [If you are not in a relationship right now, you can do this exercise with a family member or a friend, just to get some practice.] This may clarify a lot of the issues between you, as their biggest expenditures may in fact be due to a same core value as yours, it just might take a different form. For example, you may do fun things with your kids to give them a wonderful and safe childhood and your partner may be judging you for spending so much money on activities. You may judge your partner for always prioritizing work and not realize that their way of giving your kids a wonderful and safe childhood is providing a safe home for them. When you get to know your partner's core values, you may realize that you were on the same page all along, you just never communicated about it. This exercise is great at creating more closeness between you two. Do not assume. Ask.
3. Write down how you would like your financial state to be. Be deliberate in choosing your lens through which you are beginning to see things. For example, you could choose a hopeful lens of "There are a million ways to make money and I don't know all of them yet". You could choose a personal statement such as "all I need to do is to learn new skills that are in line with my new, positive money lens, and my spending will transform". Or you could be as specific as "I am open to finding new ways of making an extra $100 per week for my singing lessons." Once you have written down your financial focus, refer to it daily to keep the focus on what you want to achieve. Make sure to not make the goal too ambitious, because if you don't believe that you can achieve the goal, you are likely to fail and feel like a failure. Instead, pick a small, achievable goal to build momentum.
Remember: Your value as a person is NOT dependent on the lens you have been using in the past. You have inherent value without having to perform in a specific way to please others. Doing your personal integration work will allow you to start looking forward to learning new ways to relate to money. While it's good to learn from the past, it's important to let go if it also. So, my question to you, my friend, is: If you were able to please yourself and everything was possible, where would you like to be financially in one year's time?
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Let's build you up to everyday money mastery.
Photo by R O C K N W O O L on Unsplash