You know and are reminded that your beliefs and behavior around money have been strongly influenced by others, particularly from your childhood. You see that this money influence can either support you in your evolution or undermine you by aligning with ego. Even if you have reflected and reviewed this fact before, there is value in repeating the exercise again, particularly when the past few years in our economic environment have tested our fortitude and shaken our confidence.
In periods of money stress, the ego likes to control, constrict and protect. Most often, the results from ego intervention are unfavorable and self-serving – coming from the less supportive money influence. You may be asking, “Gayle, what do you mean?”
Let me offer an answer from my own experience. My father was a significant influence on me and on my beliefs and behavior around money. As a young teenager, my father said to me, as we gazed at the antique family furniture in the room, “Gayle, we don’t really own anything in this world; we are merely stewards. We care for chattel, we enjoy it and we improve it, until the next steward comes along.” This conversation and his way of being made an imprint in me that flows through me and my way of being today. The landscape I see and navigate when I consider money and wealth is that of a Steward. When I hold the view that I really don’t own anything but rather I am called to be a good steward of that which I enjoy, my ability to navigate life and the myriad stresses that arise is without constriction. There is no grasping for survival, even in the midst of an economic meltdown. I am able to appreciate the present circumstances and gifts, and at the same time, recognize that these circumstances will change. There will be the next steward; there will be another market swing. This is the view that supports evolution.
This same money influence can also undermine my evolution and be riddled with ego-grasping. When I hold the view that I really don’t own anything and I am to be a steward, there are two ways that unhealthy behaviors have shown up. One way is avoidance. Here rather than stewarding the “stuff” I use, I pretend to do so and avoid the responsibility of care. Instead of including all that is present, I put on blinders so that I don’t see what is being avoided. If I don’t see it, then I can limit my view. This might look like an investment portfolio that is ignored or, on a more subtle level, not integrated with one’s life. It might look like rooms that contain furniture no longer used but are taking up space. It might show up as a chronic body pain that is overlooked in health maintenance.
Another way unhealthy patterns have shown up is by tacking on obligation. The privilege of stewardship adds a “slime of obligation.” No longer is there joy in stewarding; there is overwhelming suffocation. My ego will add pressure by needing to “do it right.” Doing it right takes on the form of: I must invest my money perfectly; I must make certain that this family heirloom is preserved for our children; I must use our financial resources only for essentials.
Do you sense the contraction and limitations in these views? As mentioned earlier, our egos use these strategies as protection. Usually there is an underlying fear, accompanied by body tension that has not been faced.
Your opportunity is to recognize, if you don’t know already, your strongest money influence. Then get curious (curiosity gives you breathing room) about what beliefs and behaviors accompany that influence. How do those beliefs and behaviors support your evolution? And, in what ways have you developed patterns that have limited you? Play with this practice. It is not so serious; unless of course, you see it that way!