The Summer Camp for The Mind daily group just completed, and oh what a summer of inquiry.
I noticed the very last week, we had quite a few stressful beliefs about money appear.
Money is a beautiful and brilliant topic for inquiry. It causes a lot of stress, anxiety, anger and fear in peoples’ lives, when we don’t question it.
Even thinking about other peoples’ money causes stress for many of us. Whether those other people have loads of money, or teensy tiny amounts of money. And then, what those people are doing with their money, or not doing with it….oooh what a rich place for inquiry.
As I contemplated money and heard all the discussions about it, I noticed a situation appearing in my mind from many years ago. The thing I love about the work is how we can go back, to something from the past, and explore that powerful moment. (Who knows what can transform by doing this).
My memory: Four housemates and I were talking in the living room of a group house we all shared. Four young women and one man. None of us over 30. Our male roommate was speaking about his girlfriend and how she was from a stage and acting family in NYC. She had a lead role on a soap opera, which is why she didn’t live in our city. Her mom and dad were super wealthy and went to Martha’s Vineyard all summer to a family property.
My housemate continued his story; “she already pays for my plane tickets back and forth, and it’s practically nothing for her. I wish she’d just let me move in permanently. It’s not like she can’t afford it. And here I am working as a chimney sweep, it’s ridiculous.”
He really was working as a chimney sweep. For his brother.
Inside, I thought, jeez. What’s his problem? He’s so greedy and needy! What a loser! He really just wants to go live with his TV star girlfriend and not work? Wow. Ew.
He shouldn’t want his girlfriend’s financial support.
He should want to stick with his own life, create his own means for support. He shouldn’t turn to anyone else to pay for where he lives. He’s a user. And what’s he telling us about this dream of his to be a kept man for? Does he have no pride?
This scene took place 30 years ago, but as I sat with the image in my mind ready for inquiry, I could still remember my disappointment, maybe even a little disgust.
Ready to do The Work? Find where you thought someone should get a job, pay their fair share, quit depending on someone else (or hoping to), get their own money, support themselves. This happens fairly often inside families between parents and their children.
Is it true he shouldn’t want his girlfriend’s financial support?
Duh. Of course it’s true.
He should relax and be proud of his own ability to work, be creative, give service. He shouldn’t think money is so fabulous, or having her pay his plane tickets is so awesome. He should be excited to make his own way to the top, or to any level for that matter. He shouldn’t tell us, out loud, what he’s hoping for!
Wow, I sure had a lot of advice for the guy. I barely knew him. But I was ripping him to shreds in my mind.
Can you absolutely know it’s true he shouldn’t want her support?
Sitting still in that situation, going back in time thirty years, I mulled this over.
Maybe I couldn’t know he shouldn’t want what he wants, but I sure could know it was gross that he wanted it. I kept thinking something was wrong with him.
I could barely squeak a tiny speck-sized drop of doubt. Absolutely true, with zero doubt? I didn’t know. I had no idea of his financial history, or what he really thought of himself, or his abilities with money. I had no idea if it was wrong to “want”.
Just not knowing it was “bad” or “wrong” for him to want financial support was interesting alone. I still didn’t find it attractive. But I definitely couldn’t know it was true he shouldn’t want her support, just exactly the way he wanted it, in that situation.
How did I react when I believed he shouldn’t want her support?
I didn’t get to be closer friends with him. I even ignored him. We lived only a few months in that same house together, before he moved away to live with his girlfriend! I called him a free-loader in my head, a manipulator. I wished him failure. I was super judgmental.
It was a lot of judgment for someone I didn’t even barely know. I could hardly admit it, but I felt some jealousy. How come he gets a fancy life, and I don’t? I treated money like it was something distant and far away, something that belonged and was easy for those wealthy people. I treated money like it was the best thing in the world to have. I never questioned THAT part of the belief system or the stressful story I had running.
So who would I be without the belief that this housemate of mine shouldn’t want financial support from his girlfriend?
BOINNNGGG! (That’s like a board hitting a cartoon character in the head).
Without this belief? Are you serious? But!
You mean he’s allowed to want, and even to ask for, financial support from his girlfriend?
Why, yes! And who would I be to not object to it?
I’d be noticing how free this man was to ask for help. Noticing how free he was to tell his four housemates all about his personal love life and what he wanted, without really caring what we thought.
Without the belief he shouldn’t want financial support from another person, I could come back to myself and my own business and notice my own fears or worries about finances, and notice I may have some internal inquiry work to do.
I mean, why on earth would I care about some random man’s desires when it came to work, money, financial support and what he wanted to pay for or not pay for?
Without the belief he shouldn’t want financial support, I might reflect more closely on my own thoughts about money and how terrified I was at the time that I couldn’t support myself. In fact, it appeared I couldn’t! My parents sometimes sent me money to cover my student loans, I had a pretty low-paying entry level job, and I felt inadequate.
My self-image was so low at the time, when it came to money, that I believed I couldn’t earn enough of it, myself. I thought I’d have to work super hard to barely make ends meet.
I really thought the only way I’d ever be supported with abundance financially was if someone gave me money. It didn’t ever cross my mind that I could work, or build it into my own life through my own ideas, energy or creativity.
That was for other people. Like my housemate’s girlfriend.
I was in the lowly position of my housemate. Someone who needed help.
But who would I be without THAT very stressful thought?
Without this whole entire story of money….who would I really, truly be?
You mean, I am the one who shouldn’t want the financial support of someone else?
Yes. That’s the first turnaround. I shouldn’t want it. And why not? Because of the incredible possibility of what it could be like to support myself, in freedom, without feeling dependent, or less-than-able, or needy, or full of longing for that thing called money that’s way far away in other peoples’ bank accounts.
I shouldn’t want it, because I’m deeply interested in having my own relationship directly with money.
Another turnaround: he should want her financial support. Why not? It’s honest, and he didn’t like chimney sweeping. Perhaps he was more honest than I was, with my rules and judgment about what looked “right” and what looked “wrong”, especially in my own heart and my own relationship with money.
“Wealth is a state of mind; if anything is held back, it’s not true wealth….Abundance isn’t a word about yesterday or tomorrow. It’s recognized now, lived now, given now. It doesn’t ever stop; it just keeps pouring itself out. Once you understand this, all striving falls away. You need only notice and let the giving happen through you, excited to see where it will go next, always knowing that you’ll never run out of what’s needed.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself
Can I be wealthy in the presence of anyone else, and any amount of money, and any words about what someone’s doing or not doing with money? That’s the real question. Can I feel the plentiful supply of life, no matter what’s happening with money?
Of course I can.
All that comes between me and that, are a few concepts about what’s required for happiness.
Ha ha! I can question that.
*August 22nd 8:30 am PT: Ten Barriers to The Work and How To Dissolve Them. (2 hours) Click HERE to register. Bring a pen and paper.
Two additional Q & A sessions about Year of Inquiry. You don’t need to register, just click on over at the correct time: