Last week I attended the Financial Planning Association annual retreat. It is an intimate conference of 400-ish thought leaders who have been gathering at this advanced program for more than 30 years. When I reflected on the topic to share in this written conversation with you, fear was what came to mind, surprisingly. Here’s why it came up and why I choose to talk about it.
In each education session I attended, fear – subtle or blatant – was the sustaining factor. The content of the session was meant to address that implicit fear in a practical way. Because of my work in Somatic Finance® and my conviction in the importance of body intelligence, I am hyper-aware of when body wisdom is absent. I am also hyper-aware that when emotions, particularly fear, are present in the experience, the worst answer to meet the fear, is a “practical solution.”
I write about this phenomenon in my forthcoming book explicitly and in detail. As I state frequently, fear is the underbelly of money. Please quote me on that if you like. While I am certain that most of the speakers were not aware of the fear-thread woven in their presentations, the truth is, in our financial world, and even within the most grown-up and conscious places of financial planning, fear continues to hold constant presence that we are called to face skillfully.
Fear of not having enough money to retire.
Fear of not having enough as a retiree to sustain lifestyle.
Fear of rising health care costs while aging.
Fear of economic forces that impact our investment plans.
Fear of confusion in the tax laws.
Fear of losing control.
Fear of technology.
Fear of what money can buy.
Fear of family dynamics and effective estate plans.
Fear of negative fiscal policies.
Fear of decisions. Change. Life.
With each of the above fear matters, nothing new will emerge with the same cognitive right-brain exploration, discovery and action. In other words, as Einstein says, you can’t solve the problem in the same plane it was created. Many of the retreat sessions offered food for thought and deeper conversation, interesting tools to employ, or beautiful questions to ask, related to important topics. Many of the sessions inspired right action for professionals to serve their clients well. But none of the sessions invited anyone into the unique and deepest inquiry of what is this fear? Can we as humans explore the foundations of fear, as instruments for optimal service for human growth, well-being and peace of mind?
Dick Wagner, a beloved recently-deceased pioneer in our profession stated, “Money is the singular most powerful secular force on the planet.” This is a gorgeous statement to sit with for months. As I reflect again on this statement and include the essence of fear, I believe fear is the singular most powerful energetic force on the planet, just behind Love. But when it comes to money, fear is more prevalent.
The way for us to do money well, to relate authentically with the energy of money, to weave our purest values, our precious life aspirations, and our unique genius offerings into a meaningful life tapestry, is for body intelligence to be welcomed. Fear can only be thoroughly attended to through the physical and subtle body. We attend to the tension, pain and fatigue we hold in the body through practices; myriad practices that allow us to reveal what is hidden, to observe contracted energy, and move toward new possibilities.
Any exterior solution will be momentarily satisfying. But the fear will remain and arise again at another future moment – about this I am certain – beckoning attention for a deeper resolution and experience. As humans we will always experience fear. It is our human nature. How we experience fear is our choice and our invitation.
Yesterday, I was practicing squats in my circuit training. Still fatigued from the workout a couple of days earlier, these four timed exercises – do as many as you can in 24 minutes – were burning my butt, literally. The instructor of the class provided me suggestions on how to dip lower in my squat. Anger surfaced and I was dismissive with a “give me a break” attitude and complaints about tender muscles from her workout two days earlier.
This morning I shared with her my learnings from that exchange. Generally I am not rude to this amazing fitness instructor. In reflecting on what happened, I realized that I hold shear terror in my body when I squat to the floor! My squats have improved significantly since I began weight training, and anxiety has diminished over time along with new ability to squat lower. But, upon deeply asking my body where the anger reaction came from, I realized that I feel quivers, doubt and uncertainty, stemming from the need to be able to move if I am under attack! I am scared for my survival!
My sharing may seem far-fetched. It seems strange to me sometimes too. But when I tune into my body intelligence, there is no doubt. When I integrate my insights from this exploration, with the experiences I am having with my aging parents and their declining mobility, the revelation of this response makes interesting and profound sense to me.
Do you resist fear?
Do you allow fear to inform you?
Do you welcome fear with open arms?
Fear is undeniable energy – arising in the form of fighting, fleeing, fainting or freezing. Two of these forms mobilize the body (fight & flee); two of these forms immobilize the body (freeze & faint.) All four responses are signals from the primitive brain, the beloved amygdala, informing us that survival is in jeopardy. We are called to utilize fear in constructive action (fight & flee) or constructive rest (freeze & faint.) The body is the vessel for the effective utilization of fear. Stay tuned for more about constructive action and constructive rest, next time.
Until then, connect to your fear. Feel the sensations that course inside your body. Notice pressure, temperature and movement. Give descriptions to those sensations. Relating this way to the fear energy in your body is like giving a glass of cold water to a thirsty, parched-lipped traveler.
Connecting education, knowledge, wisdom, and body… with you,