Nancy Levin, bestselling author of Jump … And Your Life Will Appear and Writing For My Life, is an Integrative Coach and the creator of the Jump! Coaching Program who works with clients—privately and in groups—to live in alignment with their own truth and desires. Nancy hosts Jump Start Your Life, her weekly call-in show on Hay House Radio. This article is from her new book, Worthy: Boost Your Self-Worth & Grow Your Net Worth(Hay House, Aug. 2016). Nancy received her Masters in Poetry from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado and she continues to live in the Rocky Mountains. Visit her on-line at www.NancyLevin.com. This excerpt is taken from her new book, Worthy.
Take Off the Blinders: Worthy - Boost your Self Worth to Grow your Net Worth
August 01, 2016 -Nancy Levin
Anne had a history of building up credit card debt, paying it off, and building it up again—a common hamster wheel for many people. “I never read a credit card statement or considered the amount of interest I’d been paying,” she says. “Here’s the cost of my avoidance: My mortgage is at an 8 percent interest rate, and because my credit score is so low, I can’t refinance at the average 2 percent available today. But that’s nothing compared with the shame I’ve felt and the impact my spending has had on my family. My habits are now showing up in my 21-year-old daughter. I see her pull out a credit card to pay for something without the slightest thought of the consequences.”
Anne’s self-worth has taken a hit as a result of all this. But the truth is that it’s low self-worth that caused her to put on the blinders in the first place.
Whether we make our own money or rely on someone else, many of us would rather pretend our financial matters don’t exist. Or we hope they’ll just take care of themselves somehow. My ex-husband was like that. He always said, “I bank by prayer. I go to the ATM and pray that money will come out.”
Why do we put prefer not to look at reality? Well, many of us feel like we’d actually be blinded if we looked directly at our financial problems. Just the thought sends us to bed, with armloads of popcorn and chocolate, ready to binge-watch our favorite trashy TV show. Trust me—I get it. I’ve been there. (An episode or two of Nashville, anyone?)
So to avoid being blinded, we put on metaphorical blinders. We continue to live our lives on automatic, perpetuating the same patterns day in and day out. After all, confronting our money issues would force us to confront our feelings of self-worth . . . or lack thereof. And uncovering those feelings can feel a little like an archaeological dig. It’s dusty and scary down there, where our unconscious beliefs have been hiding all this time. So we stay in the same old situations because we’re comforted by the familiar—even if the familiar is terrible. “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” and all that. In order to avoid looking at our deepest wounds, we unconsciously create situations in which money is a problem for us.
In the Introduction, I said that you can easily see the state of your self-worth by looking at your net worth. So the first step in this process—before you do anything else—is to take off the blinders and look at what you’ve been hiding from regarding your finances.
Now, don’t worry. This isn’t going to be a big confrontation. No need to grab the ice cream and the remote. The exercises in this first chapter are gentle and will ease you into the process. Throughout the steps of the book, you’ll gradually unpack more and more of the deep-seated self-worth issues that caused you to turn a blind eye in the first place. Then, the natural next step will be to get your financial world in order. You can pick up one of those other books to help you learn all about investing and such. (I recommend Suze Orman—see the Resources section.) And you’ll want to do it because as a result of this process, you’ll know you’re worth it!
First, though, let’s try an exercise that allows you to put all your cards on the table.
Exercise #1: Complain Away
Those of us into self-growth and spirituality are often told to stop complaining and focus on the positive. “Stop talking about what’s wrong—or you’ll just get more of it!” they tell us. Well, here’s your chance to throw that instruction out the window. (Admit it—doesn’t that sound kind of fun?)
♣ Write down all of your complaints about money. What drives you crazy? What do you hate?
♣ What are the problems you face every day regarding money?
♣ Who or what stands in the way of your financial ease? Lay all your cards on the table—no holds barred.
♣ What do you not want to think about regarding your money? What makes you want to turn a blind eye or run screaming from the room?
♣ Once you’ve emptied it all out on paper (or on-screen), take a deep breath. There it all is. This is your “money myth”—what you might have told yourself is your lot in life. Only it isn’t your fate, and you’re going to start changing it right now. Don’t toss out this money myth, though, because we’ll be working with it again in a later chapter!
♣ For now, however, write these words at the bottom of the page: “My new life of high self-worth, high net worth, and financial ease begins now.” There—you’ve set your intention. Now, let’s keep going.
Come Out of Hiding
Setting an intention is important. It energizes us in the direction of what we truly desire. But it doesn’t mean we get to keep our head in the sand. If we want to make changes in our financial situation, we have to stop hiding from it.
Eileen, for example, told herself that the world of finance was “boring.” Throughout her life, she’d either struggled with money or was completely dependent on someone else to take care of her needs. In her marriage, her husband was the breadwinner, while she stayed home to care for the kids. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but when the children grew up and moved out, Eileen didn’t know what to do with herself. Then, unexpectedly, her husband lost some of his income—leaving Eileen feeling lost.
“I’ve been so disconnected from our finances all this time, and now our financial situation is going downhill. I feel helpless, almost childlike. It’s like I’m now having to grow up and relearn all that I’ve taken for granted,” she says. “As a result, I’ve been feeling totally unworthy. If I ever had to go it alone, I honestly don’t know if I could do it. I always thought I avoided learning about finances because they didn’t interest me,” she admits, “but now, I realize the ‘boredom’ was resistance because I was afraid.”
That’s the cost of hiding from our money matters. It may feel easier to avoid them now, but that avoidance usually makes things more difficult in the future. And that’s hardly the future you’ve set your intention toward!
You’ve already written down the financial problems you’ve been experiencing. Now, let’s delve deeper into where you might be hiding. Do you “bank by prayer” like my ex-husband used to do? Are you veering toward an uncertain financial future? Whatever your habits, confronting where you’ve turned a blind eye will help you begin to set your course for a brighter, more certain future.
Exercise #2: Take Stock of Your Financial Habits and Patterns
This is a list of common destructive money habits and patterns. It will help you begin to see where you’ve put on the blinders and gone into hiding. Open your journal or your computer/tablet. Now, read over the statements below, and copy down any that feel true for you. When you finish, you’ll have a list of your particular money patterns. For now, just hold on to the list. You don’t have to do anything specific about it . . . yet.
♣ I often run out of money before my bills are paid.
♣ I maintain credit card debt.
♣ I don’t look at or reconcile my bank statements.
♣ I don’t look at my credit card statements.
♣ I don’t know how much interest I’m being charged.
♣ I don’t have a savings account.
♣ I don’t have a retirement account.
♣ I have a retirement account, but I don’t contribute to it regularly.
♣ I don’t know how much money I spend regularly.
♣ I haven’t created a budget, or I’ve created one and don’t stick to it.
♣ I often pay late fees.
♣ I put off paying my bills.
♣ I maintain an overdraft at my bank.
♣ I rarely, if ever, look at my credit report.
♣ I don’t know my credit score.
♣ I owe back taxes.
♣ I don’t have any money of my own.
♣ I haven’t been in the workforce for a long time.
♣ I don’t have any marketable skills.
♣ I don’t know anything about our finances.
♣ My spouse takes care of all of our money matters.
♣ I don’t know how much I’m worth financially.
♣ I don’t have a will or other estate documents.
♣ If anything happened to my spouse, I don’t know if I’d be okay financially.
♣ I shop compulsively.
♣ I’m afraid if I spend any money, I’ll end up destitute.
♣ No matter how hard I try, I never seem to have enough money.
♣ Since I don’t earn the money myself, I feel guilty when I spend it.
♣ I tend to give away my products or services.
♣ I don’t charge as much as I should for my products or services.
♣ I’m afraid to ask for a raise or a promotion.
♣ I work in a job I hate.
♣ I would like to have a different career.
♣ I don’t know what I really want to do for a living.
♣ I have always relied on others to take care of me financially.
♣ I don’t know how to take care of myself financially.
♣ Money seems to burn a hole in my pocket.
♣ I spend money on other people but rarely on myself.
♣ I like to treat myself with things I can’t really afford.
Add your own statements:
If you find that you’ve copied down more of these than you hoped, don’t use it as an excuse to beat up on yourself. Remember that you’re taking action by working this process, so you’re already on your way to changing your financial habits and patterns. It’s only a matter of time!
The Guilt Game
There are lots of reasons why we avoid the truth about our finances. In the remainder of the chapter, we’ll talk about some of the most common ones. First up—guilt. It’s a biggie, especially for women!
Yes, men carry a lot of guilt about money, too, but we women seem to have it in spades. Studies show that women are less likely to negotiate their salary or ask for a raise. If we do and are told there’s no money in the budget, we’re more likely to give in, feeling guilty for asking in the first place. Men, on the other hand, are far more apt to stand their ground and keep pushing until they get what they want.
Now, I won’t go into all the feminist issues about how women have been taught these behaviors on a cultural level. There are already plenty of books on that subject, too! Whatever the reason, we women have self-worth issues that tend to come out in particular ways around money—and we often put our heads in the sand as a result.
For example, women are also more prone to putting loved ones first, and to feeling guilty if we spend money on ourselves. Nobody likes guilty feelings, so we do whatever’s necessary to avoid it—even if it means turning a blind eye to how much we reject our own wants and needs.
I have a friend whose mother wanted another dog very much but decided it was too expensive. At the same time, she had no problem spending money on whatever her grandchildren wanted. She denied herself because she felt she was less worthy than the people she loved. And she had a belief that it was more righteous to give to others.
While it’s wonderful to love others and give to them, giving and receiving must be kept in balance if we want to maintain a healthy relationship with ourselves and our finances. With healthier self-worth, we take care of ourselves just as well as we take care of everybody else. No guilt required. And, therefore, blinders off.
Many of us also believe that if we have more, others will have less. We feel guilty for having abundance. But spiritual teachers throughout the ages, and even physicists like Einstein, have taught that everything is energy—even money. So the energy of money is always available, since energy is never lost—it just changes form. Financial abundance is infinite.
Fear of Our Own Greatness
There’s another reason we tend to avoid the truth, and it’s even harder to recognize. What would happen if our hard luck stories related to money turned out not to be true? What if we deserved and could have an infinite financial future? If that were true, it would invalidate a whole bunch of ideas we have about ourselves. Like, for example, the idea that we aren’t worthy! We’d have to expand our current comfort level to having more. We’d have to stop playing small.
I know this Marianne Williamson quote has been used a lot, but I can’t resist it because it’s so wonderful and perfect for this point:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Are you playing small in your life to keep your family or friends comfortable? Are you playing small in order to pay allegiance to outworn, false beliefs?
My client Sheila makes beautiful “intention” bracelets. But for some reason, she had a belief that she should just give them away—even when people were ready and willing to pay her for her work.
“I was at a convention recently, and there was a woman there who wanted some of my bracelets,” Sheila explains. “She bought 25 bracelets, and I charged her a price that felt great to me. I was so excited. But then she told a friend of mine that she wanted to buy 100 more. My first reaction was ‘Oh, I can’t charge her as much if she’s buying so many. I would feel really bad. It would be a lot of money.’ My friend said, ‘She knows how much they are, and she asked for them. So don’t even give it a thought.’”
But it was still difficult for Sheila to think about taking the money. Part of her wanted to tell the woman to just take the bracelets for free. “Back when I owned a store, somebody new would come in and I would give them merchandise for free or only charge them half price,” Sheila says. “I was afraid this woman would see the invoice for the bracelets and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize they were that much. I don’t want them.’ I went to a class one day and brought all my bracelets with me. I had them out, and people loved them. But I gave them all away—I wouldn’t take any money for them.”
Sheila’s bracelets are pieces of her—pieces she was giving away. Her self-worth issues made her blind to the value she has to offer the world.
As a result of our coaching work, Sheila printed out an invoice for the 100 bracelets ahead of time and handed it to the woman who ordered them. Even though Sheila was shaking in her shoes, the woman gladly paid the invoice without questioning it. This was a big step for Sheila to begin to see that her work is valued by others. Now she has a website with her complete line of bracelets for sale, and she feels great about charging for them!
Accepting our greatness means no longer playing small. It often starts with baby steps. But eventually it means making major changes—in our lives, jobs, relationships, and dreams. If I had believed in my own self-worth, I would never have been willing to make the financial moves I made in the past. If I’d known my value, I couldn’t have spent so many years ignoring the whispering—and sometimes screaming—voice that told me to leave my marriage. For a long time, that truth was just too scary and painful for me to face. Talk about keeping my head in the sand! But how many years did I waste, postponing what has proven to be a much better life—simply because I went into hiding and didn’t see that I was worthy of something better?
When we change and grow into new versions of ourselves, we have to tolerate a lot of uncertainty. That’s what my book Jump . . . And Your Life Will Appear is all about. Rather than face uncertainty, most of us stay stuck for years in family patterns, adopting our parents’ money habits, and making sure we keep those blinders tightly over our eyes! Many of us believe that sticking with the status quo will win us love and belonging. In order to avoid uncertainty and to feel as though we belong, we hold to long-held cultural beliefs, following the prescribed paths we’ve been told will make us happy. These paths take the pressure off of us. We don’t have to forge new pathways. We can stay “safe” in the roles of daughter, son, wife, husband, mother, or father. We don’t have to have difficult conversations where we break the norms and expectations our family and loved ones have of us.
But how safe are these roles really? How safe is it to play so small that we squeeze ourselves into boxes and live false lives? How safe is it to play so small that we give ourselves away, reinforcing the belief that we have no real worth?
These beliefs that we hold about money—and our own worthiness—keep us in situations that aren’t truly satisfying. They trap us in the fear of the unknown, where we’re willing to short ourselves to avoid stepping outside of our comfort zone. The tragedy is that so many of us are willing to stay small to such a degree that we squander the beautiful lives we’ve been given.
I’m here to convince you that it’s time to do things differently.
The good news is that we all have infinite potential. As Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” Wow!
An infinite attitude toward money and our own self-worth starts with taking off the blinders and seeing where we’ve kept ourselves in the dark.
Facing Your Feelings about Finances
When we overspend like Giselle, or hoard money like I did, or avoid looking at our finances altogether, what we’re really avoiding are our feelings. And remember, I said this book is all about how we feel about money.
There are certain emotions we like to feel—like happiness, gratitude, love, and excitement. Other feelings? Not so much. Whatever it is we’re not looking at, you can bet it’s associated with those “let’s just pretend we don’t feel that” emotions. As you work through the process in this book, feelings will come up. Get ready for them! We’ve already talked about guilt. Other feelings might include, but are certainly not limited to: sadness, hurt, anger, rage, resentment, and shame.
These are the feelings we spend most of our lives avoiding, so it’s no surprise that we don’t volunteer to spend time in their company. Yet the effort to push them away is what keeps us stuck.
Here’s what I’ve learned from experience: These emotions may be unpleasant, but they won’t kill you! I promise. It starts with taking a different perspective: You have feelings. You are not your feelings. They’re visitors that stay for a short time and pass through. Allowing them to have their little visit in your consciousness will make room for new, more pleasant feelings to follow. In other words, feeling the not-so-fun stuff will free you up so you’re available when the good stuff comes calling.
Part of the not-so-fun stuff is looking at how our unwillingness to face reality is directly related to how worthy we feel. For the first half of the book, we’re spending a lot of time removing the blinders and getting to what’s below the surface. So before we dig deeper, let’s take a moment to reset the clock and start fresh.
Exercise #3: The Power of Compassion and Forgiveness
We just talked about some of the feelings that can come up when you’re working on financial and self-worth issues. I suspect you’ve had some uncomfortable feelings come up as a result of taking a look at how you’ve turned a blind eye to money matters. You might be feeling like the state of your net worth is reflecting a sad state of self-worth. So before we move on, let’s take a moment to ease some of the discomfort and regain some equilibrium.
♣ Take a deep breath, and exhale out any shame or guilt or sadness you feel about the state of your net worth and self-worth. Take several more breaths, and continue to exhale out any dark feelings that have come up. Affirm that you won’t use this assessment as an excuse to beat yourself up. After all, you don’t want to create even lower self-worth by chastising yourself over low self-worth—talk about a double whammy!
♣ Take another deep breath. This time, breathe in the energy of forgiveness. Begin to forgive yourself for the moments in the past that you’ve hidden from your money matters. While you’ll do a lot in this process to look at the past and how it’s affecting you now, affirm that you’re wiping the slate clean with no blame or shame. You’re starting from now.
♣ Remind yourself that you’re reading this book now, so you’re on your way to a new beginning. It’s the start of boosting your self-worth and growing your net worth. Reiterate the intention you set in Exercise #1: “My new life of high self-worth, high net worth, and financial ease begins now.”
Affirm Your Worth
“I see my current financial situation honestly and know that I’m worthy of creating financial ease.”