I’ve had this post in my head for months now. But because it’s personal, and far outside my comfort zone, I didn’t write it.
I decided a couple of weeks ago that I’d cover a watered-down version in this issue of “For Freelancers.” But I found myself backing off. “It’s too weird,” I thought. I came up with six topics I could write about instead.
As the deadline approached, and as I resisted writing about the topic, the universe turned up the heat so that I *had* to pay attention.
I attended a lecture by Gabrielle Bernstein this past Sunday. Until I stepped into the room, I had not heard of her. I was ready to leave after five minutes. Her message made me feel uncomfortable.
I squirmed through the first 90 minutes and then realized, with a bang, that I was in that room for a reason. Listening to her talk, I realized it was time for me to stop wishing and start doing.
I left knowing I had to write this post.
By Monday, however, I was back to drafting out one of those other topics I had come up with.
On Monday night, Randy Gage posted: Amazing: The Manifesto. I read it. It was as if God was speaking directly to me. OMG.
But still I resisted.
Until I went back to Gage’s post this morning and clicked though to another post, a review of Seth Godin’s book, The Icarus Deception. I ordered it, started reading it and after three pages, I threw up my hands.
“Ok, ok, ok, God. I get it.”
So here I am.
This post talks a lot about money. But it’s not about the money. It’s about rewiring your brain — about thinking different. It’s about getting rid of all the gunk that holds you back.
I talk about money because money has been the biggest issue I’ve dealt with in the last five years. It’s through changing my relationship with money that I learned how to rewire my head — and thus let my own light shine.
It’s how I learned that yes, I am amazing.
And that’s what I want to share with you.
Why? Because people ask me all the time, “How do you do it? Make all those personal changes, that is.” I could tell you all the “secrets” and “how-tos.”
I could tell you to THINK BIG. Or follow a guru. Or recite positive affirmations. Or any number of things. I’ve probably done them all.
But here’s what I’ll tell you instead: Look at yourself.
Due to my personal background and family history, I’ve had a troubled relationship with money all of my life. I’ve been self-supporting since I was in high school — and lived in survival mode for decades. I’ve always been in debt and have lived hand-to-mouth. I never made enough money (or so I thought).
I was very, very unhappy.
I blamed these circumstances on everyone and everything. Some of my excuses for not being able to be more successful (i.e. make a ton more money) were: I graduated from a state university versus a private one. I lacked math skills. I grew up poor. I was a woman. I would look at men and think, “Lucky. They have wives to do everything for them. Of course they’re successful.”
My entire outlook was colored by lack: not enough money, not enough stuff, not enough love. Not enough anything.
One day about two and half years ago, I woke up — and realized, with embarrassment and dismay, that I had some serious work to do.
I took responsibility for my own life
The more I looked at my life, the more I realized that **I** had created it. Every choice we make — even down to the little tiny ones — has an impact on where we’ll be in the future.
If you eat cheesy poofs today and don’t work out, you’ll be fat tomorrow. It’s that simple.
My life was the way it was because of the many choices — good and bad — I had made in the past and continued to make in the present.
That’s when I started changing things — big and small.
It wasn’t easy. It didn’t happen overnight. Some of the changes were far outside my comfort zone and caused a great deal of anxiety.
For example, my resolution for 2011 was to take care of my nails. I’d always wanted beautiful looking nails but due to my lack thinking, such as, “I can’t afford weekly manicures;” “Only vain women get manicures;” and “Manicures are a waste of money,” I never got them.
I started getting them. At first, people noticed my manicures and commented on them. A few people even said, “Wow. You can afford weekly manicures??? You must be rich.” When people said that, I felt really uncomfortable.
Instead of giving up, I pushed through the anxiety and forced myself to choose bright bold colors.
I said to myself, “Yes, I can afford weekly manicures. In fact, I like getting them. I feel good knowing I have beautiful hands.”
The nay-sayers fell off. The positive people began saying, “Ooooohhhhh! Love your nail color!”
The voice from the $2,800 wallet
On my 49th birthday, I had lunch with a friend. I pulled out my wallet to pay and she gasped. “Dianna! You need a new wallet.” I looked at my wallet — which I had never really looked at before. The dye had come off around the edges. It was scratched and scuffed. It looked really tatty.
I had paid $20 for it at TJ Maxx — because of course, I couldn’t afford anything nicer.
I made a mental note to find a new wallet.
A few weeks later, I found myself in a couture consignment shop. That day, the owner had just received an influx of brand new and gently used handbags totaling $50,000 (all from one woman). Three of them were still in the boxes, with receipts.
I stood there, slack jawed. I could not imagine having the wherewithal to spend that much money on something as “frivolous” as a bag, let alone multiple bags — and then not even use them! OMG!
The owner opened one of the Hermes boxes and showed me the most beautiful wallet. I asked if I could hold it and ran my hands over the pink butter soft leather. The craftsmanship was superb. I handed it back to him.
“Thank you,” I said.
The original owner had paid $2,800 for it. The shop owner said he’d have to check the price, but he thought it would probably go for $950.
I drove home thinking about that wallet. For once in my life, I wanted to buy the best of something without worrying about the cost. When I arrived home, I called the shop owner back. “I want to buy that wallet,” I said.
He replied, “Yes, I know. I could see it in your eyes. It’s a beautiful piece.”
Purchasing it set off all kinds of anxiety. OMG! Who pays that much for a wallet? My stomach was in knots for days.
To this day, I’m not sure why I was in that particular shop that day. I’ve not gone back. Sometimes I say a prayer of gratitude to the woman who paid $2,800 for a wallet and then never used it. She made it so that I could buy it on consignment. Buying that wallet set off a whole chain of events.
Shortly after, I realized that any time I pulled it out to pay for something, I heard a voice in my head, “I can’t afford this.”
That is when I realized I had “hidden” tapes in my head — tapes that played constantly. Tapes that continually undermined me without my knowing.
And that is when the real work of “thinking different” started.
Erasing the hidden tapes
Our thoughts are like grooves in our head. I liken them to the grooves on a record. The needle stays in the groove and what comes out of the speaker is the music assigned to that groove.
“You can’t succeed.” “Your idea is stupid.” “You’ll never be rich.” “You don’t deserve that.” “You’re being selfish.” “People will laugh at you.” “If you do that, so and so won’t like it.”
These are your hidden tapes. You may not be aware of them. They’ve been playing for so long, they’re like background music.
If you want to change your life, you have to change how you think. You have to move the needle in your head out of the old grooves and into new grooves.
You have to create new music.
So how do you do it?
For me, I began to pay attention to whenever I felt anxiety. I’d sit down and write in my journal and try to figure out what was causing the anxiety.
This process sometimes took weeks as I worked through a lot of icky stuff. I felt incredibly raw and vulnerable.
Because my main issue was money — and overcoming the dozens of negative beliefs I held about it — I began changing how I viewed it. I began changing how I viewed my own life.
I began living the life I wanted versus waiting for the money to show up that would allow me to live the life I wanted. (Subtle difference, but huge.)
For example, my dream is to travel around the world. At the moment, my budget doesn’t allow for me to hop on a plane and jet off to New Zealand. But I can still travel. Earlier in the year, for example, I took myself to Niagara Falls.
As I made these changes, my life began filling with abundance. It was rather amazing.
But, I still had a huge negative belief: Earning money was a struggle.
A change in thinking: A joyful relationship with money
Many of us are infected with the “I can’t afford it” mind virus. Last week I did a hike with my Meetup group and listened to two grown men rant on and on about how bad their companies were, how other people were making more money than they, and how they couldn’t afford to do this or that.
I finally had to move away from them because I so worried they were going to reinfect me!
Money is seen as a “fickle” lady who visits some people and not others. You may live in a beautiful house but you walk two blocks over to the “well-to-do” neighborhood and wonder why you’re not living in one of the million dollar homes.
Or, if you’re self-employed, you wonder why some people are making millions — while you’re stuck toiling away for peanuts. (BTDT)
As I continued to root out negative beliefs about money, and change how I lived, I realized I needed to make a massive change. I needed to change my relationship with money — from adversarial to joyful.
One day I wrote, “I have a joyful relationship with money,” and burst into tears. Why? Because I didn’t know what it was like to have a joy-filled relationship with it.
Now I do.
Money is a wonderful thing. It allows us to sustain ourselves, certainly. But it also allows us to make our dreams come true — whatever they may be.
Once I began seeing money as my friend, everything clicked into place. Things smoothed out.
I began saving 20% of my income. I now tithe 10%. I enjoy the remainder.
I see my bills as blessings and write on the payment envelopes: “Thank for the blessing of electricity that allows me to sustain my business.” “Thank you for the blessing of my mortgage that allows me to live in my lovely house.” “Thank for the blessing of health insurance that helps keep me well.”
What a difference.
The anxiety is gone, as is the worry. I tell the people close to me that it’s as if I have a new “head.” The inside of me, my head, is completely different.
It’s as if I’ve stepped out of the dark and into the light. It’s an amazing feeling.
If I were to write a book, that’s what I’d write about — what it’s like to live in the light. It’s a totally different experience.
If you’ve been stuck — in bad relationships, with not achieving your goals or dreams, with trying to lose weight, with whatever — drop all the self-help books and podcasts and everything.
Do as Jim Rohn says and get a big piece of paper and write on it, “ME.” You are responsible for your life — and you can change it.
Miracles do happen. I want you to know they do. My personal miracle is that I changed, and if I can do it, you can, too.