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Fear, Shame, and Money

One of the great benefits of being a Hypnotherapist is that through working with clients to explore ineffective and maladaptive responses and beliefs, is that over time I have developed a lens that is specialized to spot them; and I use that lens regularly on myself.

 

An area that has come into clarity recently has been around my own subconscious beliefs, responses, and habits as they relate to money, finances, debt, and wealth.

 

In December 2018, my father died. He had been ill for more than a year, and so while it wasn’t unexpected, in the end, his death was abrupt. Walking and talking in the evening, and gone in the morning.

 

After his death I had some conversations with my wife and fellow Hypnotherapist Niki Martin and spent time reflecting on how my relationship with my father had shaped who I am and what I believe about myself, about the world, and about many things, for better or for worse.

 

Now, right off the top, I want to say that I can’t blame my father for my beliefs or habits. As children, we have so many experiences that are beyond our intellectual, emotional, and experiential capacity to respond to in a sustainably effective way – yet the amazing subconscious mind comes up with creative responses to get us out of whatever pinch we are in.

 

The difficulty is that if that naïve response gets us out of the pinch when we are 5 years old, our subconscious locks that in – it becomes the response whenever we feel that particular pinch again regardless of how the context has changed.

 

If eating ice-cream made our scraped knee feel better when we were 5, we’ll go to ice-cream when we are 60 and our heart is hurting – even if we are diabetic and it actually causes us harm – because for the subconscious mind, it worked… and if it worked then, it will work now.

 

Applying my craft to my own life after my father’s death, I discovered a few things about some of my beliefs that were clearly no longer serving me, in fact, they were creating obstacles and problems for me.

 

As I grew up, either through my environment, or the messages I received, or experiences I had or witnessed; I developed a belief that talking about money was a shameful thing.

 

I believed that I was expected to know how to save, how to spend, how to make enough money (and a little more) to meet my needs, how to compensate and address any shortcomings, and how to predict what those shortcomings would be.

 

I believed that I was expected to know how to do these things, and to do them well without ever having them explained, modeled, or taught.

 

I believed that if I ever had to ask for information, advice, guidance, or support around money, this meant that I was stupid, and incompetent – which is a shameful thing, and as such meant that I was undeserving of any advice, guidance, or support.

 

Through hypnosis I explored experiences in my past in which I wasn’t told these things, but because I was young and inexperienced, I inferred them based on my feelings and interpretation of events at that time.

 

The feeling I experienced around money conversations was unpleasant, shameful, and discouraging. The easiest way to avoid that unpleasant feeling is simply to avoid money conversations – a simple, primal flight response.

 

It’s amazing how well people can survive, even when they are entirely avoiding conversations about money. A person can find careers that will help them justify your avoidance - in paths like Spirituality, Religion, Social Services, and Arts. A person can build entire communities with other people that carry the same kind of shame and self-doubt and feel totally justified in doing so… and I did… all of it… really well!

 

At some point, though, incongruity raises its head.

 

It’s entirely possible to survive with a maladaptive belief – but it is nearly impossible to thrive.

 

I’ve reached a point in my life where survival just isn’t going to cut it.

 

Through my practice of hypnotherapy and meditation, I was able to connect with a younger version of myself, and to step back from the perspective and belief that I’ve carried for most of my life - to see that it is unreasonable for me to expect myself to know, understand, and be competent with things that have not been taught, learned, or supported – and that maintaining that unreasonable expectation is actually a primary obstacle to being taught, learning, and being supported in developing what I lack.

 

Reviewing my life in hypnosis, I saw that I have in fact been taught, learned, and have been supported in many topics and areas that are far more complicated and obscure than basic finances. I saw that I have plenty of intelligence, and the skills to connect with and absorb the knowledge I need to become competent. I realized that accountants and financial advisors were not waiting to judge me and shame me for a fee, but rather worked for me, and would help me learn and grow and thrive!

 

I realized that not knowing wasn’t something to be ashamed of – rather it is a place of infinite possibility – just as so many Zen masters have said. Not knowing is the ground from which all knowing, all wisdom, all experience arises.

 

So, I got to work. I’ll list some of the resources that I’ve found useful – perhaps you will find them helpful too; and there is no shortage of great information.

 

For me, the key has been in shifting a set of beliefs. Beliefs about money, about what I should know and do, and about myself.

 

My study and practice of Hypnotherapy has allowed me to make this shift in myself, and I’d be delighted to work with you, if my story resonates with your own.

 

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

Debt Free Forever by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton

The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton

Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam

A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle

Money Rules by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko