Let’s just say you have a story going on in your head. A story something like, “I am terrible with money.” Or, maybe, “Money scares the bejeezus out of me.”
Maybe you inherited some fears about money from your mother, your father, your auntie, your granddad who struggled with money. Or didn’t talk about money. Or argued about money.
Thanks to them, and to your own experiences, you developed a story about what money is, and what money does, and who you are because of money.
Let’s say you ferociously hold on to that story – for years and years – because somehow, some way, it reinforces a much larger story:
“I’m not good enough.”
This is the story my client Elle* has been struggling with. She has her own business, and a mortgage, and a sheer terror about making financial mistakes. Because, of course, mistakes mean you’re not perfect and if you’re not perfect, you’re:
Not good enough.
But “money” is a pretty huge category, so we took it down to the smallest, itty-bitty-est thing about her money that was a problem. Know what it was?
Ten months of unopened mail.
Ten months of envelopes that promised peril. A mountain of mail that told Elle where she had screwed up. Another place she was:
Not good enough.
To get unstuck, to prove her story wrong once and for all, Elle had to tackle that pile of pain.
We discussed the why, and the how, and the threat to her future if she didn’t do anything – that’s a vital part of The Unstuck Process. I asked her to envision her money stuck-ness continuing for two more years – “OMG,” she blurted. Which was precisely the motivation she needed to get going. Elle left the call focused and determined. I was happy, and hopeful for her.
With Elle’s permission, the recording of our coaching session was distributed to all the Club members. And it resonated with them. Resonated so much, that one member wrote a blog post about her own struggles with mail, and money. Of course, I forwarded the post to Elle, to buck her up.
Bucked up she was, indeed. She wrote me:
“So last night I started to sort through 10 months of unopened mail. 10 months. I needed to stop every 10 minutes or so and go back and read Susan’s* blog post, just to lessen my anxiety and regain the courage to keep going. But I did keep going. I got it all sorted into 3 big piles: Business; Personal; Trash. I didn’t pressure myself to open any envelopes. Last night’s step was just to get the stuff sorted.”
Great approach. Gentle, positive baby steps.
“This morning I went through the Business pile and opened several envelopes. There were two overdue bills, which I have now paid, and included a little note in each telling the recipient how much I appreciated their patience. I also opened envelopes from clients – that contained $62,000 in checks. $62,000. I just finished filling out the deposit slip. My head is still reeling. I am sure that there are some ugly surprises in there as well… but I’ve made a start. And I am going to continue moving forward, one envelope at a time. Whatever is in there can (and will) be dealt with… but I know that I wouldn’t have started had it not been for your support. I have finally reached a point where I realize that I don’t need to explain myself for the mistakes I’ve made. I just need to make them right.”
Sixty-two thousand dollars.
Sixty-two thousand dollars.
Sitting right there, in shopping bags stashed in the closet. For ten months.
What a discovery – her fears about money had even prevented her from receiving money.
Her actions had created exactly the situation she feared. Funny how that works.
But she’s done with all that now:
“So I wanted to say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing me how to gently and lovingly move forward. Thank you for showing me that there are alternatives to ripping myself to shreds over what I’ve done (or haven’t done, as the case may be). Thank you for helping me to see that I’m not some kind of financial leper that will never be ‘cured.’ Thank you for shining a light on my wiser self… and reminding me that she’s there and accessible 24/7. Thank you for believing I can do it.”
Sometimes people are skeptical about coaching. “What’s the return on investment?” they ask. Well, in Elle’s case, it’s pretty simple. She invested $594 in nine months of Club coaching, and returned a whopping $62,000 in found money. And the prospect of a happy, healthy relationship with money going forward.
I am just saying.
[Just saying, I am so very proud of her.]
*Client names are always
changed for privacy purposes