Has anyone ever asked you something or made a request, and you feel so uncomfortable about answering….
….you freeze like a statue?
Gulp. Did that person just ask me that? Shocking!
The other day, a very dear friend was telling me about a small inheritance she received from an aunt who died. “I was so surprised!” she exclaimed “I mean, it’s not that much, but I can do a few things now.”
Then she shared that she’s remodeling her entire kitchen and landscaping her back yard.
I wanted to ask…”how much was it, anyway?” because in my mind, remodeling your kitchen and landscaping your back yard is big bucks, the way she described it. But I didn’t.
Because. It’s none of my business. That would be nosey. That’s private. It’s rude to ask a specific question like that about money–kind of like asking “how old are you?” or “how much is your salary?” We don’t talk about such details.
The annual group of money inquirers right now are looking at what we think and believe about asking for money in any kind of context, whether someone else is doing it, or we ourselves are (or we’re even just thinking about asking).
I wasn’t thinking of asking FOR money, but the unwritten rules about asking ABOUT money were firmly in place, despite my curiosity.
Asking questions about their money is rude.
But let’s dig into a little deeper to find out why it’s rude? What’s the fear? Why would it be so rude to ask about money, or for money?
I imagined someone asking me how much money I have in my bank account, or if I’ve ever been given money, or how much I made last year, or how much I spend every month, or even how much I paid for my coat.
As I sat with it, I realized the answer to the question is the scary part. It’s personal because the answer could result in so many things….but especially separation, criticism, judgment.
- They’ll think I’m lucky (and be jealous)
- They’ll think I’m unlucky (and avoid me)
- They’ll think I’ve been squandering what I had
- They’ll think I’ve been a chicken sh*t
- They’ll think I should never ever complain about money and I’m a whiner
- They’ll think I should be more scared about money and I’m a pollyanna everything’s-going-to-be-fine faker
- They’ll think I’m self-centered and greedy
- They’ll think I’m dishonest and sneaky
- They’ll think I’m disorganized, stupid and uncaring
All of it is about the judgement of character, personality and activities with money.
Gosh. No wonder we have this unwritten rule about money questions. Sometimes, people don’t even want to go to get their taxes done by someone else, or visit financial planners, because they’ll have to share ALL their personal information about money….and surely be criticized. (Um. Not that this would be me. Clearing throat).
So while asking may be considered rude, let’s look today at the answer to any money question, and why it’s frightening (and therefore, no one should ask).
The biggest fear? Someone will get criticized, when it comes to money and asking for it. I’ll be thought of in a bad way.
Let’s do The Work!
Is it true, that if the answer to the money question is revealed, someone’s going to get criticized?
I was already judging my friend as “lucky” and thinking her brief words “it’s not that much” were falsely downplaying the amount. I mean, how could you completely remodel a kitchen and build a deck plus all that landscaping on “not that much”? My mind was whirring. I wish I could inherit something, which has never happened and is unlikely to ever happen. Waah.
But can I absolutely know it’s true someone gets criticized when money amounts are revealed?
Can I know it’s true that stressful or separating thoughts come alive, when an answer is revealed about money from one human to another?
No. I really can’t.
So what happens when you DO think dangerous things happen when money is talked about openly, and people ask things about it, or for it?
I make absolutely sure to quit talking about it, or never mention it. If someone starts to speak about it, I turn the conversation in a different direction or go mute or freeze up. I don’t reveal the whole answer.
Yes, I have even done this with my partner to whom I am legally married, and we submit taxes now together. I had a reaction of fear a couple of weeks ago when he asked me if I owned stock in volatile tech companies (I do), and was totally afraid he’s going to criticize me. Which hasn’t happened, ever.
So who would you be without the belief that it’s dangerous to reveal information about money? Whether it’s you or them doing the revealing?
At first, you might feel worried about who you’ll be without the thought. Like maybe you’ll ask 1000 questions without being considerate. Or you’ll tell someone everything about your spending, saving and giving without hesitation.
Are you sure this is even true?
What if it was totally OK to ask questions?
It doesn’t mean anyone should answer. There’s a balance here. Information coming in, going out. Gentle timing.
I notice amounts come and go, change and morph and go up and go down. So do questions about amounts of money.
I notice I can question any assumptions I make about money.
My friend is lucky (and I am not)…is that even true? I know how much kitchen and landscaping costs, is that true? (No).
Turning the thought around: If money is revealed, they’ll think well of me (or vice versa). We’ll be connected. We’ll be sharing something, closer, and more alike.
Could this be just as true?
Everyone I know has had money coming and going always. Never the exact amounts of money forever the same. Money is like air, or water, or the tides. Money is moving. Money is like the weather. I don’t have to freak out because it’s cold and barren at the moment. There’s beauty in the way it is.
The amount of money doesn’t mean you (or someone else) is “bad” or “good” or “right” or “wrong”.
The answer to a question about or for money, in any moment, is fascinating.
Sometimes it’s “yes” and sometimes it’s “no”. Sometimes you might answer, sometimes you might say “why do you ask?”
In whatever appears with curiosity, pondering, and wondering about money….
….it’s a brilliant catalyst for awareness of our own fearful thoughts and beliefs, that’s for sure.
In the end, I see that “reveals” about money and what I fear turn all around to my own thinking, my own perceptions:
- in this situation with money, my thinking is unlucky (or lucky) and they’ll connect with me and be close with me
- I think I’ve been squandering, they haven’t been squandering
- I’ve been a chicken sh*t with my thoughts, with my sharing and love and honesty, with my answers or questions
- I should never ever complain about their money, they should complain if they do, and I AM a whiner! Woohoo! (It teaches me a lot about my thinking)
- I should be more scared about money and yes, I can find where I’ve been a pollyanna faker
- I think I’m self-centered and greedy, dishonest and sneaky, disorganized, stupid and uncaring–I’ve had all these thoughts about myself, and about other people, too. Maybe I think these things about money, too. Which I could question.
I see whatever I’m worried about other people thinking, every time, I’m actually worried is true about myself.
I could question it.
“These people that we’re close to will give us everything we need, so that we can realize ourselves and be free of the lie….But you say “Go away, I don’t want to hear it.” And you say it mostly in your mind….What I say is, find an enemy. They won’t give you that sympathy. You go to your friends for refuge, because you can count on them to agree with your stories. But when you go to your enemies, they’ll tell you, straight up, anything you want to know, even though you may think you don’t want to know it.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is pg. 134
If you’ve felt uncomfortable about what people have implied, or said, or asked, or done around you or to you….no matter WHAT the topic (and I mean ANY topic, not just money)….
If you feel curious about digging into this work, come to 4 day immersion retreat in May. Or come to half-day retreat (offered once a month in Seattle for only $50 and I’ll do it online this spring for those of you too far away). Sign up for March Seattle half day right here (3/18 Sunday 2-6 pm).
P.S. If they ask a question, it never means you have to answer. Just saying.