I have always struggled with money. It comes in easy enough via jobs but it's never enough and it always leaves as quickly as it came. I used to think it was because I didn't earn enough or that things cost too much but now I see it has a lot to do with my beliefs about money.
I've read a couple of self help books about money and they always start with challenging people to become aware of their beliefs around money. Beliefs like - 'earning money is hard work', 'money doesn't come easy' (i.e. it doesn't grow on trees), 'only the greedy are rich' etc. I know I have negative beliefs about money but I've never known what to do about them.
Beliefs are habitual thoughts. We think them over and over until we believe they are true. We are very attached to our beliefs because we sometimes think that they are who we are. However, in my opinion, we are not our beliefs. We can change our beliefs. For example, if I believed that the world was flat and then I was given scientific proof that it is in fact round - my belief about the world changes. So who am I? Am I Bronwyn who believes the world is flat or am I Bronwyn who believes the world is round? The truth in my eyes is that I am neither. I am someone who has beliefs, I am not my beliefs.
Beliefs are how we make sense of the world. We can feel very threatened when our beliefs are challenged. In fact, many of our beliefs are invisible to us until they are challenged - this is when we are called to break habitual thoughts. A life coach once said to me - you can't just stop doing a habit, you have to replace it with something else. So how do you change your beliefs? Some people suggest thinking or saying affirmations like "money flows easily to me" or "I am a money magnet". I think affirmations are great. I do, however, think they need to be believable and in a language that suits the individual. "I am a money magnet" I can say it but I know I don't believe it. It is interesting though, to notice the physical reaction in my body when I attempt to say "I am a money magnet". I feel very uncomfortable and silly. The reaction is just showing me that I am being exposed to an idea that's outside of my comfort zone. I like to get curious about things like that.
Something that I am able to say "I am open to learning ways to release old beliefs about money", or "my beliefs about money can be changed" I feel saying something like that is a step in a direction that feels good for me and feels more true to who I am. That's the thing about self help concepts, I find they don't work unless they feel right to you (as an individual)
What I've also realised in my pondering about receiving is that I am not only resistant to receiving money (despite constant moaning about not receiving money - the irony is not lost on me), I also harbour resistance towards others receiving money. Especially people selling a service that can help change people's lives. So I got curious about that. What beliefs do I have around this?
I got out my beliefs box and decided to look inside. First I found a belief that if someone is offering a course/workshop/consultation service that's not affordable to ME then they are clearly charging too much. Tut, tut, such a shame when they could help so many people but they've let greed take over. Hmmmmm, or.... or? Or maybe this person simply knows their worth? Maybe I'm not seeing or valuing the 20 odd years of hell they went through in order to now be in a position to help others. Maybe the reason they run this business and aren't slaving away at some mindless job they hate is because they dared to charge for their skills? Maybe my belief that their asking price is not affordable is actually not true and only seems true because that's my reality?
Well! I might say in defiance, no one i know could afford to pay that. But wouldn't that make sense? Birds of a feather and all that? We attract people into our lives that are often on the same wave length as us. Wouldn't it make sense that the people in my life couldn't afford the cost either? Are the people in my life a true reflection of the entire population? No, they are not.
Further more, how does this person who wants to help and uplift people do that by cutting themselves down and receiving less for their amazing work? How do they empower me to find the ways and means to help and invest in myself by giving me things cheaply or for free? The pondering continues.
What else did I find in my belief box? Well, here's a belief that you should not receive any or only a little money for helping people. I seem to be carrying the notion that the joy you receive from giving is enough and would be diminished or cheapened if your effort was validated by an exchange of currency. How very interesting. I have no judgement against people who are selling products and services with the sole intention to make money. But if I turn my attention to someone who is trying to raise awareness, fight for a cause, maybe bring innovations to a community or address social issues? No, they should receive a pittance and live happily from all that joy in their hearts. What's wrong with this picture? Why do feel like people who are providing a product or service from their heart should not be valued and supported via receiving money? Money that reflects the incredible worth of their life's work? I'm going to sit with that some more because it ties directly to me and the community work I do. In my view, there's nothing wrong with receiving money for work and there's nothing wrong with volunteering. I think problems rise when people like me get out of balance - doing everything with a 'I must do everything as a volunteer and never receive for my work' hat on. Then I suffer, my family suffers and I get on that train for burnout city. What I've learned so far is that socially orientated enterprises and entrepreneurs gift a portion of their products and services or profits to help others. They also charge full value for what they provide. It's how they remain in service and sustained at the same time. Makes sense really.
Ok, time to look at one more belief in my belief box around receiving. I'm afraid to admit it but there it is staring me in the face. I have been carrying a belief that women should be self sacrificing. I did a little experiment where I pictured in my mind a woman having all the pleasures of life. A woman who is dressed fabulously, pampered regularly, travels, runs an amazing business with a huge fan base and then I stopped to check my physical reaction. It's quite strong. I don't care how nice she is or what community service work she does - who does she think she is having all of that? Who would I think I was if I had all of that? A quote comes to mind from Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women' “Nothing provokes speculation more than the sight of a woman enjoying herself." I think there's a lot to that quote. I can see that I have been carrying a belief that women are nurturers first and foremost and therefore should not be seen to be indulging in pleasure or enjoying herself too much in life least she look selfish.
From where I stand, it doesn't really matter where our beliefs come from. I feel it's hugely important when I become aware of a belief that no longer serves me, to sit with it and consider whether it is true. When I started to question these beliefs I felt like I was standing on very shaky ground. The floor seemed to give way and yet I did not fall down because when I finally did look down I saw that I was, in fact, sitting on a very high horse. There's a bit of humble pie to be eaten when you realise that you had believing mistruths and harbouring judgement against others. But as I released judgement against others who dared to receive, I started to feel less judgemental towards myself for considering receiving for my gifts, talents and service as well.
So if you can relate in any way to my experience of resistance against myself receiving and against others receiving, I challenge to open your belief box. Pull them out one by one and simply observe them without judgement. Notice physical reactions. Notice what you are reminded of when you think that habitual thought? Is it even your thought or did someone say it to you when you were little and now you believe it? Stay cool and stay curious.
With much love
Bronwyn Bay (Curious Belief Box Opener)