"Money is a singular thing. It ranks with love as man's greatest source of joy. And with death as his greatest source of anxiety." ~John Kenneth Galbraith
When your self-concept is at odds with how you feel about wealth, it's hard to imagine yourself building authentic wealth. It can feel like you can either be true to yourself or be wealthy. No matter what you choose, you lose.
Even when you know intellectually that a person can be both authentic and wealthy, you may still feel somehow alienated from the experience of wealth. All the affirmations in the world won't change that.
What does change things is to drop the rope.
Do you remember when you used to play tug-of-war?
It didn't take long to discover that dropping your end of the rope caused your opponent to lose footing. The same principle applies when you are stuck in an internal tug-of-war.
Dropping the rope is tricky when you are tugging on both ends. You can't move toward authentic wealth if you keep holding onto both your current self-concept and your current beliefs about money. Something has to give, but what?
Since you are reading this, I feel pretty confident about your innate decency. I'm guessing that you care a good deal about living from your values and that part of what brings you pain around building wealth is that it seems you can't be wealthy and honor your values.
Let's assume that your personal values--the things you care about most and that you associate with being a decent human being--are authentic. At the same time, human beings are complex critters, capable of behaviors from stellar to, well, let's just say less than admirable. Your inner critic knows all too well where you may not always live up to your own standards.
So there you are, decent and authentic on the one hand, imperfect on the other. Unless you consciously identify with your values, you may unconsciously identify with everything your inner and outer critics find wrong with you.
Authentic wealth begins with discriminating between competing self-concepts and choosing to identify with the one that is most life-affirming. Sure, you'll still be subject to the indignities of human imperfection, but you will always have a home base to return to when you feel confused or at odds.
You'll have a place to stand when you drop the rope.
You hold both ends of the rope
A funny thing about the money tug-of-war: you hold both ends of the rope.
You hold onto your ideals of how it should be and also your fears about how it is. One set of beliefs fights with another. You are caught in the middle.
When you make a conscious decision to "come from" your best self, you drop one end of the rope. When you decide to question your beliefs about money and building wealth with an open mind and heart, you drop the other end.
You may be thinking that this is one to those solutions that is simple, but not easy. I disagree. The actions that result in letting go of both ends of the rope at once are available to you right where you are.
The secret is to forget about the rope. Once you have decided to drop it, the rope is of no further use. Every time you look to see whether you are tugging on it or not, you're picking it up again.
Here are the keys to dropping the rope and the forgetting about it.
The first key is self-acceptance
Awareness heals, and acceptance is the foundation for peace. When you can look at yourself and your relationship with money with equanimity, you've dropped the rope.
The second key is to replace the rope
Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does your mind. If you want the rope to stay dropped, you'll need to give your mind something else to do.
One way to do this is with a daily practice I call "Open, Accept, Wonder." Do it before you get out of bed in the morning.
Open. Start by bringing awareness to your body, just letting yourself be present to how it is right now. Open yourself to the intention with which you started this retreat.
Accept. Notice how it is with you and money right now, today. See if you can observe and accept your relationship exactly the way it is.
Wonder. Allow yourself to wonder in what ways this relationship will grow, deepen, or heal today.
This practice prepares your brain to notice and learn in ways that support a healthy relationship with money.
The third key is to shift focus
Before you dropped the rope, you were focused on the conflict between how you felt about yourself and how you felt about money and building wealth. When you drop the rope, shift your focus from conflict to relating.
One way you can shift focus is by keeping a diary of your relationship with wealth. This is not journaling! This is pouring your heart out on paper without reservation, as if you were a teenager in love.
When you pour your heart out you may find that wealth doesn't mean what you thought it did. That you have been holding on to expectations and standards that aren't your own.
You may see yourself clearly with respect to wealth for the first time.
The fourth key is repetition
You probably didn't start tugging on the rope yesterday, and it's going to take some time to get used to having dropped it. By repeating various exercises and practices and engaging in an ongoing conversation about the new relationship with money you are building, you move more and more firmly into the new way of being.
The fifth key is community
Most of us learned the money tug-of-war at an early age, absorbing it from our parents, friends, and the community. So much of the conflict is embedded in these relationships, that individual efforts to let go of the rope can be sabotaged. The support and feedback of others on the same path can make the difference between success and failure.
Prepare to be disoriented
If you've had an unhappy relationship with money, your beliefs about creating wealth are so familiar that it's going to feel strange to drop them. When you feel shaky or confused, go to that place inside where you are whole, where you are nurtured by your deepest connections. Whether you find this place in nature, in spiritual practice, or some other way, going there is the absolute best way to deal with disorientation.
A gift to help with dropping the rope
I want for you to let go of the rope that is keeping you from experiencing authentic wealth. You're invited to download the no-cost ebook, "Money Quarrels, How to Make Peace with Wealth. You don't even need to give me your email address.
Just please, don't let it gather virtual dust on your hard drive. Read it. Use the exercise. And drop that rope.