I clearly remember my experience of living in lack. Money meant security. With money in the bank, I could feel relaxed. When some unexpected spending came along, I’d experience a fight reflex – legs tense, adrenaline pounding through my body. The figurative tiger was not outside of me, but inside. When the financial reserves were taxed, it was ME who was at risk.
I didn’t want to respond in this way – yet I didn’t know any other way. Everything about certain situations – living in debt, buying something on a credit card, the list of triggers goes on and on – felt so wrong. My response was to try to control the external factors so I wouldn’t have to feel this. As a wage-earner, that meant budgeting and cost-cutting. As an entrepreneur, this meant increasing income. In both cases though, the underlying trigger lay latent. A time-bomb that exploded with depressing regularity in my married life.
My response to all this would be to work harder. After all, working hard was something that I was taught to do, and was a part of my core identity. Situations that reinforced this identity were retold. One such story involves the first job I had out of school. I spent two summers working at a poultry processing plant in Steinbach. The place was called Friendly Family Farms, but we used other f-words to describe it at times. I worked in the packing side, so my summers were spent under fluorescent lights at 4 degrees. I worked hard, yes, and did lots of overtime, and was always up for more. However, the mythical story comes once the union negotiated down the part-time salary in favour of perks for full-time staff. I didn’t want to work for $7.50 an hour, so I ended up in the back of a green van heading out west to plant trees. The major difference here was that we were paid per tree. First day, I earned less than $3/hour. And the work was hard – especially at first, with my cut and bruised hands cramping at night as I lay exhausted in my tent. It took 10 days for me to get to a $100 day (working 10-12 hours per day). However, I prevailed, and was the top-earning rookie in our camp that year, and in the top 10 in the company the following year.
On the surface, this is just another good ego story. Its also the classic western tale of self-made luck. Hard work meeting good opportunity resulting in a bit of wealth. Internally, this involved a lot of willpower and a constant pushing. I drove myself to get these sort of results.
There’s a deeper element to this story. My identity said – I am a hard worker. My success comes from my hard work. If belief creates reality, then the only way I could be successful would be through hard work. And so that’s how I saw my life. A succession of situations that could be overcome through hard work.
Fast forward to 2014. I’m on my way to a business development workshop at Club Med off Singapore and we are asked to read David Hawkings book Power vs Force. The author makes a claim that everything has a vibration, and that these vibrations can be quantified. There’s a certain intuitive sense about this. If you look at the Level column in the diagram, the lowest level is shame. Someone living in shame has very little personal power. Effectively, they operate with near-death energy, and are very miserable. Moving up, you find fear. Someone in fear is frightened, but they have access to a lot more resources than the one with the millstone of shame, guilt or apathy around their neck. Imagine a person who moves through their fea and begins to desire change. When resisted, they may get very angry! Being around someone who is angry all the time is not pleasant, but they are operating with a lot more juice in their life than when they were fearful. Once the situation is overcome, they may operate out of pride. This is quite a strong stage, and one where a lot of the world is at the moment. Most military systems operate around this vibration, according to Hawkins. (For those who are interested, there’s a fair amount of overlap with Tribal Leadership)
A common feature of all the levels less than 200 is that they require a lot of force to keep them stable. And applying this force is draining. In the context of this article, I would say that at less than 200, the dominant world-view is one of lack. Its us or them. The best place we can get to is a place of self-made safety, and we are damn proud of it. However, given the individualistic nature of the western world, its an unsafe place, because we know its a dog eat dog world, and we are only here because of all the energy we’ve spent to get to this place. Everyone else is an implicit threat, and my world is full or risks.
“I’m the king of the castle, and you’re the dirty rascal. ”
There’s a pivot that takes place at 200. Instead of forcing our way in the world, we start to move in unity with it. Some of the wisdom teaching start making sense. Moving further up the scale, the language that best describes the levels becomes spiritual. We start living the Tao. We are centered in the will of God. We operate from flow. We know ourselves as part of the cosmic oneness.
No longer are we operating from the tiring force-filled position of lack. We move in increasing harmony with the world, accepting life for what it is, and seeing the possibilities in the moments as they arise. We become aware of synchronicities happening more often. People showing up at the right time. Being in the right place at the right time. These experiences create a deepening gratitude for the richness of life that I already have. (That I’ve always had?)
How does this apply in my life?
For one, I need to move beyond fear, to courage. Courage isn’t living without fear. Its doing what is required in spite of it. Even in this though, there’s a world of difference between doing something because I ‘have to’ or doing something graciously because that’s what’s required of me now. Some may see this only as semantics. I beg to differ.
Interestingly, the most gratifying form of courage appears to be the courage to show up as me. When I’m able to do this, the world seems to delight in providing me with what is required. Its early days in my understanding of this, but conversations with my brother point to this truth only deepening over time. And that the financial becomes a decreasingly important, yet just as fluid beneficiary of a more trusting worldview.
I felt the need to discuss this topic before moving forward. Each of us is where we are at and couldn’t be anywhere else. If you are reading these posts from a place of lack, that’s OK. The process of coming into alignment with your finances is still important. My motivation over many years was fear – not the best motivator, but a powerful one. And my experience from that starting point has been a journey to increasing grace.
There are many resources available to start moving into a place of greater trust. Here’s a simple process (with very annoying graphics).
No matter where what your level of consciousness is today, know what when it shifts, everything shifts – including your relationship to money.