“Money is only energy… So, err, why do I still have so many hang-ups about it?”
Does this sound like anyone you know?
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone in an alternative health business say, “Well, money is only energy, after all”, I reckon I’d have enough for an extended beach holiday with the family.
The problem is that the words aren’t enough. As true as the statement may be on the esoteric level, it’s not the whole story. And that belief in itself doesn’t necessarily undo a lifetime of unhealthy conditioning about money.
So, what does it take to know and embody a healthy attitude around money?
I’m thinking that conscious awareness of what our own conditioning is might be a good start…
Let’s take a time-machine back to 1995.
I’m 15. I’m reading about poverty in Africa. My first conscious meeting with my own white middle class guilt. It feels terrible. The problem is too big. It feels like there is nothing I can do about it. I decide that of I was the one in poverty, I wouldn’t want that schoolgirl to feel bad – and thereby increase the suffering in the world. I would want her to use her position and power to do something good. Money creates inequity. Money feeds but it also starves. Money carries the weight of responsibility.
I’m at University, first year Environmental Science, part of an activist scene protesting outside the stock exchange in town. We’re protesting against globalisation, trade agreements, capitalist multinational giants seeding a world monoculture with no respect for communities and environment. Money, clearly, is the root of all evil.
2000. I’m busking on the streets in Paris. I spent all my money – secretly, on purpose – because some deep part of me is desperate to break out of the cotton-wool white middle-class upbringing and taste need. It comforts me and frustrates me to know that even without any money, I’m still not really desperate. I’m educated. I have family I could call on, if I really needed help.
A few months later, waitressing in a UK pub, I’m arguing with this “pigheaded” chef… who’s about my age. “Look – Money makes the world go round”, he’s saying. “No it doesn’t!” I’m arguing defiantly. “Ok, what does, smartass?” “Love. Love makes the world go around… Love, energy … You can’t buy it.” He rolls his eyes. “Does not!”
2003. I’m at a personal growth seminar about “Abundance”. I’m realising that I think that being spiritual and enlightened means having no money… Like Ghandi, Buddha, or Ramana Maharshi. On the other hand, the presenter – or at least the seminar business – seems to have plenty of money to pay for the international airfares, expensive hotel, nice clothes and cars, restaurants required to be presenting all this to us. He seems pretty enlightened. Blah! I’m confused.
2004. Ok. So I worked it out. I need money. I’m sick of being poor. My environmentalist background has crippled me with this thing called “poverty consciousness”. The world is in desperate need of change and that means good people (like me) need resources (like money) to do good things. I gotta make some money. But how? Is dancing in a strip club justifiable if you use the money for a good cause?
OK… So it’s four years later and, no, I didn’t take the dancing job. I found more ethical ways for me to make money (not that I have any judgment against those who choose strip dancing, if it’s right for them).
Over the last decade, I am pleased to say that many of my attitudes and beliefs about money have changed for the better. Here’s what I’ve learned over the last 15 years or so from my own direct experiences, and a few good teachers along the way…
- Yeah, money is energy. Its essence is neutral. Its value is arbitrary and mutable, although it can be agreed and appear “set”. It’s not just any old energy. It’s money. It shows up in the form of coins and notes and electronic statements. And you usually have to have it if you want to play with it.
- The social and financial systems that we have created around money are complex… If you didn’t grow up learning about the many creative ways that money can work at home, you wouldn’t have learnt about it at school. If you want to play, it helps to know the rules. You might need to educate yourself.
- Money is a symbol of value. In business, its value is agreed between the provider and the client. Many people (including business people) have difficulty with money which reflects a difficulty in valuing a part of themselves… It can be related to a deep feeling of lack of self-worth.
- A healthy relationship with money means being able to healthily give, receive and hold onto money, for the benefit of yourself, your family, your community and the earth.
- Money is a resource. And it can be used to purchase other resources. Yet there are other ways that those resources can come too. It’s helpful, when creating something, to open to all the ways that it could come into your life… Sometimes things are gifted or given, or transacted with a non-monetary energy exchange.
- Appropriate and responsible use of money is a genuine force of positive change in the world.
… So, what d’ya reckon?
Is this useful? Interesting? Old news?
What are some of your beliefs about money? I’m keen to hear the good, the bad and the ugly… It might help us all to untangle the many and varied threads of consciousness that get tangled up in this area…