What to do when you're afraid (and for me it's fear about MONEY)
CAUTION: ONLY READ THIS POST IF YOU ARE READY FOR BRUTAL HONESTY AND TOOLS THAT CAN HELP YOU SHIFT OUT OF YOUR JUNK.
Have you ever heard that song:
"whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
and whistle a happy tune
so no one will suspect
It's rather appropriate (for the most part) when you are afraid. The reason I'm posting this on this particular Saturday morning is because: I spent the morning (yes, it's only 7:19 am here so it was early) being afraid. And I don't LIKE that feeling.
So I've been laying on the sofa thinking things through to see if I can get out of my little mind-mess. More on that later.
Here's some insight into what I was thinking to prompt my post:
"I'm feeling so anxious. What if I don't have enough money?"
(THAT statement- I don't have enough money- has been the bane of my existence for about 25 years. Even when I have deposited $25k into my bank account I STILL have had that feeling. That was not the case this month, but my point is that "not enough" is the constant refrain that causes fear/anxiety for me.)
Some of you, at this point, are going, "WTF? What is her problem that she feels anxiety about not having enough money when she has had $25k in her account AT ONE TIME. I have no sympathy."
For the record, that was the situation in 2011. The sich in 2012 is slightly different cash-flow wise. My point is, though, that my pattern of thought is what hasn't changed. The amount could be $25 or $25k or $250k and unless I address the core JUNK, how I feel about it is not going to change.
So stay with me, because this is an important concept.
I have been afraid of not having enough money since I was five years old. Or younger.
I used to make budgets for my older self (I usually assumed a $30k/year salary at the time) in pencil on sheets of notebook paper. At age 7. (Hello...who does that???)
I made bank as an 11 year old babysitting ($5 an hour for upwards of 8 hours several times a week). At any given time, I had hundreds of dollars. Which I typically spent on clothing the Limited Too. Ah, if only I had understood delayed gratification at an earlier age. I went on to work tons of jobs, sometimes two or more at a time but still had this constant fear that it would never be enough.
So guess what the result of that fear/affirmation has been?
That I (together with the laws of the universe) create situations to confirm that fear of "not enough." I give the money away, get rid of it, spend it on legit things and not legit things. Because if I constantly affirm I don't have enough, then the universe wants to prove me right.
AGH! It's a cycle! Do you see?
So here I am on my sofa at age 30 (nearly 31) and I'm feeling the SAME EXACT FEAR that I have been feeling since I was seven years old and projecting my financial life into the future. Good things: I make more than my 7 year old self thought I would. A lot more. I do have a beautiful place to live. I have good hair. And a fantastic wardrobe.
But the pesky anxiety that doesn't seem to be quelled by any combination of zeroes and commas (or lack thereof) in my bank account is really what is the issue here.
SO that's what I want to address. To do battle with. To send it packing.
Here's a bit of my internal conversation (hint, you can do this too, with whatever emotion is kicking your ass at the moment):
(For the record, I, Lauren, am L and F/A is played by the Barney character representing Fear/Anxiety.)
L: Hi Fear/Anxiety, what up???
(F/A looks scarily like Barney. The purple dinosaur. Not sure why.)
F/A: Not much. How you doin?
L: Oh not so great because you're around. I'm feeling really scared. And want you to leave. Seriously. Once and for all.
F/A: But you LOVE us. What would you DO without us?
L: Um, hello! Have a healthy relationship with money! Be relaxed and calm!
F/A: Fat chance. You know that wouldn't happen. You'd just replace us with something else to stress about.
L: Touche. You might be right. Discuss.
F/A: Well, remember that time when you had tons of cash flow and you chose to worry about which winter coat to buy?
L: Yes. I still hate the one I got. Too boxy and sleeves too short.
F/A: See! That's our point! You will never be satisfied if you start from a place of dissatisfaction.
L: Eep. Yeah. Go on.
F/A: Well, you've needed us over the years. We taught you your work ethic. Your determination and drive. Your get shit done mentality. Truth be told, we're probably a big reason that you're an entrepreneur and haven't asked your parents for money in years.
L: First, hallelujah to that last part. And yes. You're right. You've given me some good shit. Now, however, it's not so much working anymore. Can we pretty please shift this? I'm so over the Fear/Anxiety thing. Ugh.
F/A: Well, it's interesting that you chose to blog about this.
L: Seems to me that creation is the core of addressing you guys. If I create something in the face of Fear/Anxiety, then the negative emotion eases up. Fascinating. But there's something else here too...I haven't quite hit it yet.
F/A: Perhaps it's that we need something else to do.
L: I know! Why don't you be my Creative Directors? You know, channel your once-upon-a-time energy of Fear/Anxiety into a new space: Creative Direction!?
CD: Um, love. Dunzo. We adore our new title.
(ed. note: CD, formerly known as F/A are a gay male couple in my psyche. They are flamboyant and awesome. Just saying.)
What you saw above is a kind of active imagination created by Carl Jung. I use it with myself (obvi) and with some of my clients.
If you want more info on active imagination/voice dialog, you can go here.
Now, that active imagination dialog really helped me shift, as has writing this post. Still, I have some other tools in the toolkit to work on junk like this, and I'm happy to do it with the exposure of the interwebs to share with you transparently my process.
One more thing is that regardless of what your biggest fear, issue, or anxiety is, these tools work! So, stay tuned. Over the next few days, I'll unpack some of my go to strategies for dealing with the junk drawers of life.
If you want more resources on fear and
self-loathing money then you might consider reading: