I started reading a book over the weekend that is just slightly blowing my mind. It’s a money book, which to be honest I’m surprised I’m that jazzed about. I eat up any book that tells a good story about emotional or spiritual growth, and although I’ve read a few money related books that have that softer edge to them, any hard-core money book that starts talking about stocks and bonds, and words like yields and p/e and my eyes usually glaze over.
This one’s different though. It’s called ‘How to Own the World’ by Andrew Craig, which didn’t do itself any favors before I started reading; it sounded kinda arrogant to me. It was an obligatory read to pacify my husband (and for the ‘I told you so.’, when I thought I’d go back to him with why I should stick to my self-help world.)
I’m only a few chapters in, and if I had to retitle the book, it would be something like this: ‘Why letting go and stop earning money is the smartest move you can make.’
The author is trying to educate the general population about the potential income opportunity from wise investments. He writes about ‘letting your money work for you’, and living off the interest. I’ve heard this before and it always felt pie in the sky, and out of my reach. Good for all the ‘rich’ people, but not for me.
This time my reaction was different. For the first time ever in my life, I got it. I felt it. The ball dropped.
For all my hustle, and energy I spend trying to earn money, I could use that (or actually less) time and energy to wisely invest my money, and my money would work for me. In other words, if I learned how to let my money generate more money, I would start receiving money by doing nada.
Now, here’s the catch. When you first read those last 5 words, what’s your immediate reaction? (Here’s where all my self-help books are starting to pay off.)
Here was mine:
I can’t do that, that’s lazy.”
I don’t think I’m the only one out there who has this story ingrained in my DNA. Whether it sounds like ‘lazy’, or, “No way! I have to work hard to earn money!”, my guess is somewhere in you there is a story of ‘not enough’ that translates into running yourself into the ground in order to earn your keep (and also might limit your investments to savings accounts, your company’s pension, and any tax-free retirement vehicles).
I’m making this bold assumption because this has been my story.
Living with a belief that says, “You aren’t good enough and don’t deserve to receive the things you need, want, and desire, so you better hurry up and prove your worth in order to ensure you’ll be taken care of in life.”
I have tried to prove my worth by making my body smaller, running faster and performing better as an athlete, working longer hours as an employee, and similarly, offering more time for less money as a coach.
I hustled for my worth due to a deep rooted subconscious belief that no matter what I did and how hard I tried, I was going to get it wrong. So to save my ass (most likely from hell), I better hurry up and try to do loads, do it right, and keep everyone happy while doing it.
That broken belief has left my broke.
While employed, it served me just fine, or so I thought. I made enough money to rent decent apartments in Manhattan and London, while still doing all those basic low-risk ‘smart’ money things like putting money in savings, pensions, company stock, and retirement plans. Since it all came out of my paycheck before hitting my bank account, I never felt the pain of having to make the choice of lowering my immediate take-home pay for a future pay-out. I defaulted to the status quo money choices that everyone was doing. I wasn’t brave enough to take a risk and put together a portfolio of investments that could potentially supplement my income in the present, not just the future.
What I’ve learned about investments in the past few years while seeking investors for my and my husband’s start-up, is that investments with higher returns (aka the ones that make more money) have a greater risk of failure. This is why investors want to see a probable outcome of a higher percentage back on their initial investment.
I have never been able to think about investing the hard-earned money I made in anything riskier than company stock because the thought of losing any of that money was too scary. Partly because of my fear of ‘losing money’ and having a negative cash flow, but more so than that, the biggest fear I was trying to avoid was that I already was a failure. Logically, if I lost the very thing that I worked so hard to gain in order to prove that I wasn’t a failure (ie money), then I wouldn’t just be losing money, I’d be losing face.
I’d be proving to myself and the world that my worst fear was true: I really was a worthless piece of human.
Ouch. You can see why I not only did everything in my power to earn money, but also to hold on to it once I got it.
This past year I’ve done some intense inner healing work with the support of Nadia Munla, and guess what the #1 thing we’ve been working on is? Receptivity.
Yup, the complete opposite of earning.
Receptivity is opening yourself up to let the things, mostly one form of Love or another, come to you. Instead of you working really hard to fill your own basket, you let Love fill it up for you. There is very little to do. For sure you’re not hustling for your worth.
Instead you’re sitting in a place of peace, knowing deep down that you are enough as you are. There’s nothing you can do to alter the value of your worthiness. All you have to do is accept that you are whole and worthy, and receive it; allow that worthiness to fill you. Embody it.
While there is very little ‘to do’ in order to receive your worth, let me tell you, it is one the hardest friggin things I have ever tried to do.
There is so much risk.
What if the world stops turning? What if all the potential clients [who aren’t lining up to begin with] don’t line up outside the door? What if nobody comes to the event [that isn’t filling up even with all the hurry and flurry]? What if my laundry doesn’t get done? What if my grass stops growing? What if I turn into a complete blob of an amoeba and forget how to breathe?
Very high stakes here.
For the past 11 months I have been doing my best to let go of trying to prove myself. I’ve stopped doing things like posting on social media, which was just perpetuating my need to be busy and feel useful. I put a pause on working with clients because I was needing them to prove to the world I really was a coach (See! I have clients!). The only thing I did keep doing was dance; because #truthbomb, I really just do that selfishly for me 🙂
It’s been an ego-crush of a year that has made me want to crawl into a hole and die many times over.
However, after 11 months, I am finally rejoicing because I can tell I have learned how to receive. Or at least tasted it for long enough to recognize the aroma of a possibility to receive.
It came in the most unexpected form of being psyched about learning how to invest in the stock market and understand for once the difference between a commodity, equity, bonds, and what the hell an EBITDA is.
Why? Because the author of the book made it so loud and clear (or for the first time in my life, my ears could actually hear) that the world of investing your money (not just saving it) presents an opportunity where you can receive, not earn, money, by doing nothing except being the worthy human that you are (and clicking a few buttons on your mouse, or tapping your phone a few times.)
This feels revolutionary. Here’s my translation of how this works.
Saving money: Holding on to it in a safe place where it doesn’t really grow in value other than some token respect as it ages over time. It doesn’t look that different when you take it out of the bank then when you put it in, other than some minor weight gain because it hasn’t got a lot of exercise. When you save money, you pretty much have the certainty that it’s going to look very similar to itself over time. £25K might turn into £28K, a slight increase that isn’t something you’d write home about, but it helps you sleep at night because you know it’s still there. This keeps the scarcity monsters at bay. The ones trying to convince you that one day you’re going to be broke (because you’re broken). Which means for a hot minute you can breathe (because you’ve got money in the bank; see? not broken), until they show up again, this time trying to convince you that the savings you’re holding on to, isn’t enough. Solution? Get out there and bust your ass even harder so you can stash more cash.
Investing money: Letting go of the money that you earn, so the money can keep doing good in the world. With this approach, the money begins to enjoy its life. It tends to do more cool things than if it were sitting in a bank growing old and putting on weight. It starts to change its shape in significant ways. Sometimes you don’t recognize it, it looks so different to when you last saw it, and sometimes it’s so happy with itself, it clones itself. Which means now you’ve got two piles of money for the price of one, each doing their own cool things in the world. In gratitude for letting the money ‘be free to be me’, it starts to send you gifts. At first the gifts don’t seem significant, but then once its new shape takes form, you end up getting gifts in multiples of what you initially set free. This is when you realize you yourself have achieved freedom. By setting the money free in the first place, you end up receiving the money back, and here’s the catch: You’re not doing anything for that money to come to you. After that initial choice to let go, your only job is to receive.
In this scenario, you are now ‘free to be me’ too. You can go paint a painting without worrying if it’s going to sell for enough to pay the electric bill. You can feed the homeless without resenting that they don’t have cash to pay your mortgage. You can offer your healing to the world without needing your rates to define your worth, and without outpricing those in need.
This might seem outrageous, even scandalous. It does to me too. I’m not quite sure how the world would work if we all just invested our money to a level where we could live off the interest. Who would be doing all the work to make the investments maintain and grow their value? I’m not an economist and I don’t have that answer.
And what about when the above scenario doesn’t work that way and your investment actually loses value? I haven’t quite worked that out yet either, other than sometimes life throws you lemons so you can make lemonade. (And the author makes a case that if you take the time to educate yourself, which apparently takes as much brain power as learning to drive a car, and don’t just follow the status quo, you can avoid investments that are overinflated and keep a general upward growth curve in what you receive.)
While I am not here to give you any investment advice, what does makes sense to me is that trying to control the outcome of your bank account by holding on to each penny for fear of losing it all, and worse, for fear of devaluing your own worth as defined by the value of your bank account, does not work.
My own bank statements are proof.
I also know this because of what happened when I applied this same approach to my body, trying to control my body by regulating how many calories went into it, for fear of my worth being measured by weight. The result was disorder, chaos, and crazy-making.
It wasn’t until I let go of what the number on the scale was, that I began to love myself for who I am, not what I look like. The same principle is necessary to detach your worth from your bank account, and from what you think it takes to fill your bank account; your hustle.
I totally hear you when you say, “But how can I let go of making money!!!??? Who and how will the bills get paid????”
I haven’t read the exact plot of your storyline, so I can’t answer that.
I can share with you that 18 months ago, my husband got a pay rise from zero, to a number that more than covered our expenses and was more than I had made in the last 3-4 years. I was involved in the negotiation of his income since it was part of a company buy-out deal related to the business we set up together.
Get this: I almost undercut his salary by three grand a year because of that wounded part of me that didn’t think I/we were worthy enough to receive the higher number.
That is bat shit crazy if you ask me.
The money was staring me on a platter, saying, “Please, will you take me home with you?” I didn’t have a thing to do other than say Yes. I didn’t have to work longer hours, or get more done. It wasn’t even MY JOB!!!! All I had to do was say ‘Yes’, get out of the way, and let it flow into our bank account. And I stared it in the face and almost said No.
I am starting to believe that the greatest kind of wealth is not measured by the number of zeroes at the end and the digit at the beginning. The greatest wealth is the kind where you are letting money be another way you let yourself be loved. Call it God, or Source, or Love itself, loving you through money.
18 months ago was the start of me receiving love in the shape of money, and here’s what I found:
Until you receive your own worth, you can’t truly receive money. Money might come your way, or you might earn it in exchange for all your hard work, but if you are still holding on to it, and telling yourself you need to keep ‘doing more’ to earn it, it’s not wealth, because you are not free.
Once you let go of the money; let go of having it, or of you being the one to earn it, AND you can still know you are loved, whole, complete, and enough, then you are free. And so is the money. It is free to flow in any direction, including towards you.
These past 11 months I have earned less than I did at a summer internship when I was 19. I thought I was the bees knees then; wearing a suit and bringing home a paycheck.
If I had known that 15-20 years later I would go through a time of earning less than I did as a 19 year-old, I would have held onto that money even tighter than I did. I would have tried to prevent myself from ever experiencing the pain of actually losing it all.
But sometimes you have to live out the experience that you’ve been afraid would happen all along. You have to face your worst fears, and then realize that you haven’t died. You’re still living and breathing, even if you’re only functioning at amoeba type levels.
Sometimes it’s only from this place that you can heal your wounds. When you have nothing left to rest your laurels on, and you realize you are still being taken care of; that you are still loved.
Sometimes it’s only from that place where there is nothing you can do to earn the love, where you finally put your hands up, surrender, and receive it instead.
And that’s when life actually starts to get easy; when you start to let it work for you.
Photo by Christian Dubovan on Unsplash