Here's a series of excerpts from the first few chapters of Healing Your Financial Soul.
It'll give you a glimpse of how I'm approaching this fraught topic, and I trust you'll find these snippets interesting and encouraging.
(I've not included any of the interactive exercises, which are many, because they need proper introduction and follow-through. But they're lively, and usually fun! David)
Introduction: The problem of your inner penguin
… Simply finding a different idea or line of thinking to give mental assent is like a penguin atop an iceberg trying to change his destination by facing the other way – being up top helps him think he’s in charge, the view changes a bit, a new breeze of doctrine promises change, but the 9/10ths of the iceberg below the surface continues to obey the ocean current’s momentum. We need to make our changes below the surface. More to the point, below our surface thinking.
We’re waking to the realization that for our circumstances to be different, we need to not just do, or even think, differently – we need to be different. From the inside out. Change the undercurrents as well as the surface orientation. And that’s what Healing Your Financial Soul is about.
Instead of selling you on yet another (doomed) investment scheme,
or yoking you to a budget (aka, recipe for failure),
or getting out the old cat’o’nine tithes,
we’re going to have some fun!
Chapter 1: Thoughts and feelings: Who’s in charge around here?
… Some insights need to be rooted, grafted, anchored, woven or otherwise secured into your thinking with physical motions and sensations. Body language and tactile memory. This is a crucial aspect of what we’ll do, and probably different from what you were expecting, so allow me to set the backdrop a few different ways.
Clinical communication studies at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) studied how information is conveyed via print (content only), radio (content + tone of voice) and TV (content + tone of voice + body language). They found what actually registers with people comes 7% from content, 38% from tone of voice, and a whopping 55% from body language. That's 93% not from word choices.
Never scorn a song-and-dance man.
So we’re also going to use your body language to heal your finances.
I know a consultant to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, immigration officials and corporations who detects genuine and misleading statements on video by using a catalogue of over 200 different facial movements and expressions – that’s how articulate and subtle your face’s body language is. So however you may like to think you’re directing a conversation by choosing your words, your face is blabbing what you really feel and think. Relevance? The monologue of words running through your head can also be synced up and reinforced with the powerful (and inevitable) effect of your own body language. You can choose this to your own benefit …
Chapter 2-a: As you thunk, so you is
… Similarly, how else can a guy get a $50 a week raise and figure that’s a good time to buy a $3,000 TV system? On credit at extortionate interest. Because there’s an emotional impulse inside that says, “This will help.”
Help what? Essentially, he’s saying something about how he feels: I need… I deserve… I look like… I have to… My home isn’t… My spare time is…
All subjective, emotional stuff.
Am I exaggerating? USA Today recently ran a six-week series called “Young & In Debt” which reported that 49% of American 20-somethings have “stopped paying a debt, forcing lenders to ‘charge off’ the debt and sell it to a collection agency, or had cars repossessed or sought bankruptcy protection.”
That’s half. That’s huge.
Clearly, this isn’t just about lack of helpful financial information – we’re looking at a crazy mix of assumptions, beliefs, pressures and behaviour.
Money is spiritual
We’ll get into this in more depth shortly, but for now let it suffice to point out that there are nearly 2,400 verses in the Bible directly mentioning money and possessions. Same with about 15% of what Jesus is quoted as saying – some of it literal and some of it allegorical, but he was obviously comfortable with the subject.
Now let’s talk about you
If your finances aren’t great, then you have programmed files of need, gratification and avoidance that are putting a disconnect between your heart’s true ideals and your mind’s surface ideas about long-term financial success. And not just in the area of spending like the examples above, but also saving, investing, giving, recreation, planning and even your experience of God’s generosity. Otherwise, you’d probably be rich by now. And not so stressed.
The good news is that rectifying this is not only possible, but can even be enjoyable and exciting. We’ll clear up more of the clutter a little later, especially in the areas of family and religious conditioning, but for now let it suffice to say that we all need hardwired access to emotionally helpful beliefs and attractive messages that serve our financial goals, not sabotage them …
Chapter 2-b: Turn up the thunk
...Now here’s the awful truth:
If you struggle financially, it’s because deep down,
you were taught,
and you agreed to believe,
and made countless decisions to prove,
that you’re supposed to struggle.
Woah! How could this be? Wouldn’t a few breaks, a better salary or a modest inheritance end the struggle?
Now notice that I said “responsibility”, not “blame”. There are huge differences between casting blame and simply identifying where responsibility lies.
• Blame looks backward and generates condemnation, shame, discouragement, resentment, helplessness and a wasteful, consuming anger that does nothing but glue defeat into place. Don’t go there!
• Responsibility, while acknowledging what is past, is also forward-looking, objective, compassionate, empowering, and encourages solutions.
Responsibility is not a ball and chain, it’s authority.
It frees you to confidently do what’s needed with vision and energy.
It’s a starting point for a new experience that you can cheer about ...
Chapter 3-a: Money and I made up
... Can’t I just think the happy thoughts and not worry about the bad ones?
No, for at least two reasons:
1 – A bad belief is a form of self-comfort and usually based on a lie. A credible-sounding one, but a lie nonetheless. Such as…
“There, there, we can’t all be the best.”
“Oh well, money isn’t that important.”
“Just be happy with what you have.”
“I don’t need much.”
“If I did get ahead, it’d probably be at someone else’s expense.”
Those are common, debilitating lies about money & you.
They’re designed for temporary soothing, consolation and comfort.
They’re pseudo-logical “reasons” coating your feelings (not resolving them) and this “perspective” cements negative experiences into place.
And they’re lies that stand between money & you.
Any lie can become a belief when it’s disguised as evidence. Once you acknowledge, accept and take it on board, you give that lie a place of legitimacy, so it will continue to occupy space in your mental makeup, have a voice in your decisions and demand to be defended within your belief system. As I noted earlier, have you noticed how much mental energy it takes to maintain a lie?
Think of them as parasites.
2 – Lies thwart truths. It’s automatic. Whenever relevant circumstances arise, they will run interference against new, constructive, helpful ideas or beliefs. In fact, they’ll kick in before your conscious stream of thoughts has time to analyze and formulate a response – you’ll feel something negative almost immediately, and you’ll be frustrated by reasonable-sounding lies just because they’re (still) there.
Some things you can let lie, but not lies.
Chapter 3-b: More about your money make-up
... Consider what money can and cannot do:
Money can pay for experiences,
it cannot make you wise.
Money can free you to pursue your dreams,
it cannot tell you what your calling is.
Money can make others notice you,
it cannot make them respect you.
Money can allow you to communicate,
it will not make people understand you.
Money can help reduce distractions,
it will not make your ideas better.
Money can pay for the best care,
it will not heal you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
Money can quickly attract thanks,
it will not buy genuine friendship.
If you rely on money to please people,
they’ll be even less pleased with you when it’s gone.
So, in some respects money is very effective,
and in others it’s practically inert.
Money simply amplifies whatever’s already in your heart
Money is a catalyst. An accelerant. A reactive agent.
Adding money to anything simply adds energy to whatever is already in play ...
Chapter 4: Asking is not optional, it’s critical
… Same thing with God. His ambition is not to be your Divine Shipping & Receiving Department. His agenda is for you to know him. And how do you get to know someone? By doing stuff together. Building a personal history together. Far too many people dig in their heels and complain that they’re “waiting on God” to give them direction, not realizing that they’re actually sulking. God, like a good parent, often chooses not to respond to that.
Don’t you want your friends to suggest something to do together? I love hearing, “Hey David, let’s go…” God loves that too. Stop treating him like an immovable bureaucracy and suggest something.
Your Father already knows your heart even better than you do, so the problem is not whether he can figure out what’s on your mind.
Rather, part of what asking does is turn your attention toward him (which any good father enjoys).
It puts yourself back in touch with the knowledge that he is your ultimate source.
And his love finds another outlet to touch your life (which all love needs and responds to).
So a great way for you to have closer and closer relationship with him is to…
open your heart
step out of your comfort zone
Expecting to receive.
Why? Because asking requires us to be vulnerable and self-revealing. So since God’s love is pure, faithful and kind, we can learn to trust him and get used to opening ourselves to him.
The problem is not whether he can afford what you’re asking, the issue is how willing you are to risk being vulnerable.
Sow trust, reap trust.
It also means being honest with yourself about what you really want, and that’s harder to avoid when you know you’re asking someone who already knows your heart better than you do …
Chapter 5: Are you receiving?
Having started to work on your general mindset about finances, your comfort level with money, and getting over the fear of asking, here’s the next important concept to lay hold of, cultivate and live out:
God’s creation is fundamentally abundant, flourishing and growing.
And you were created to partake in that abundance,
to enjoy it with him and help others do the same.
Creation was set up to support and encourage you
The life, health and purpose of the human race was a gift from the beginning – our difficulty with receiving is an outcome of our fallen state. It makes receiving feel to us about as awkward as asking. A lot of us are conditioned to believe that it is somehow more noble to deflect good things offered to us. Either we’ve taken on this cloak of false humility or we really believe we are not worthy of good things. Or worry that by accepting something we cause some sort of shortage elsewhere.
But that doesn’t make sense. Just about anything that is intended for me, as a blessing, an opportunity, a gift, a calling, a cheque, a meal, a compliment, an award or reward, is unlikely to suit you, be useful to you, or even be attractive to you. My idea of a good time or great art or a good cause may not be at all to your tastes.
All of creation is abundant, obedient and made up of energy,
and by deflecting and rejecting good things
you are actually training an alive and responsive universe
to pass you over.
It’s like setting up detour signs all around yourself.
And when abundance dutifully avoids you,
then you’ve "won" in some way.
There’s some kind of “I told you so” being satisfied.
Your reality is not just what you’ve gathered around yourself, it’s also what you’ve pushed away ...
Chapter 6: Pruning the Family Money Tree
... So we’re going to have some fun clearing out a bunch of the broken junk, outdated gadgets, worn-out devices and ill-fitting hand-me-downs that you’ve accumulated during years of absorbing mixed messages and half-truths about money. We’ll do this in three parts: first, your family junk, then your religious clap-trap, then your own souvenirs of sorrow.
... Every family has its own little culture: food rituals, conversation patterns, level of tidiness, preferred styles of confrontation, daily and weekly routines, expressions of love, seasonal traditions, sense of humour, and so on. Same with their money and finances: cash inside birthday cards, money from the Tooth Fairy, an allowance, money for good report cards, encouragement to baby-sit or get a newspaper route, summer jobs, advice about education for a job or career, and so forth. You were groomed verbally, by example, and by experience as to what to expect in life regarding money. Those handed-down beliefs, sayings, teachings and the attending emotions formed the foundation of your experience and you’ve been influenced by them ever since, even if (especially if) your response was to reject them ...
Chapter 7: The Weed-whacker of Eden
Now we venture into a thorny, tangled garden: your religious financial clutter. And I use the word “religious” deliberately to differentiate and separate out the human element of your spiritual life. You see, God is not religious. Never was and never intended us to be. In fact, religion is the kind of thing that got us barred from Eden: It's where mankind (and it usually is men) will take what God offers and say, ‘Very nice, thank-you. We’ll take it from here.’ And all manner of grief ensues.
Religion is where our selfishness, need for comfort and will to dominate or ensnare kick in, and we feel compelled and justified in commandeering the best of what God has generously provided in order to twist it to our own dissatisfaction.
So let’s not confuse your spiritual life...
love for God, His love for others in you,
and the joy of participating,
with your religious life...
your favourite set of opinions/offenses, concerns/gossip,
expectations/limitations, preferences/control, and so forth.
And you know, some of that stuff wouldn’t be half so bad if only it was consistent, but we spend most of our time and energy forcing and maintaining makeshift fixes between those competing ideas, conflicting opinions and partial conclusions that we’ve accumulated during years, if not decades, of listening to various notions about life with God. No wonder so many lose interest and/or energy for it.
For now, let’s stick to the effects of religious teaching, interpretation and application upon your understanding and experience of money. We’ve looked into your family’s input and what can be done with that, now let’s sort through some of the flawed religious teaching and mixed messages you’ve taken on regarding finances, wealth and money.
Since most religious church sources cite the Bible, we’ll start with a selection of religious assumptions and their scriptural allusions – you’ll then be better able to sift through other specimens you’ve picked up. After that, we’ll sort through some of the church-culture-based contradictions in your thinking so you’ll be equipped to cover off other experiences, opinions and quibbles as they come to mind.
... more excerpts on the way ...