The patterns influencing our relationship with money begin when are are children, which is also when we receive our first glimpse of fulfillment reflected in the mirror of the material world. As children we often make unconscious agreements about money that affect the choices we make about our personal path as adults.
By the time most children are in elementary school, they have already begun to identify money as an important source for getting their needs met. Adults perpetuate this belief by providing children with an endless supply of material proof of their love and affection. And with each passing birthday and holiday, the bar gets raised a little higher, until it becomes increasingly difficult to meet the expectations we have created in our children. Consequently, they grow up believing that fulfillment is an external, material reality that can be bought with money.
We have so confused money with fulfillment that the very meaning of the word has been lost. Fulfillment can only be truly experienced internally. It is not something you can acquire or buy. It is not a place you can fill full enough with stuff to take you there. Fulfillment is about completion and self-realization. It is more a process than a destination. It is not something anyone can give you; it is something you become.
One of the ways we can experience true fulfillment comes from the deep knowing in your soul that you are on your path and understand your life's purpose. Unfortunately, we are often so disconnected from our own souls that we have difficulty finding our path and often stop searching for it. We may even stop believing that we have a soul at all.
Too few of us were nurtured to become what would fulfill us personally or spiritually. This is an unfortunate reality, because we all need guidance and encouragement in developing our awareness and acceptance of who we are and the gifts we possess. To know your uniqueness is powerful indeed. To not know it leaves a hollow space that too many of us simply attempt to fill in other ways.
As children we did not experience ourselves as separate from others; we felt connected to everything around us. For this brief time, we all knew true freedom. This freedom did not require money. As we grew up, we became self-conscious as we were increasingly defined by the people around us, namely, our parents, family, and friends. We were told who we were or were not in relationship to others and our experience of them. We became known as "good," "bad," "sweet," "smart," or whatever adjectives the people we looked up to, literally, used to describe us.
We have become unconscious of the powerful effect that words and language have on our psyches and self-esteem. This lack of consciousness is particularly harmful to children, who display the psychic wounds inflicted by language so early in life. It is no small wonder that our souls retreat so easily into the background of our lives. As our center of truth, the soul is vulnerable to the untruths we are told and submerges into a deeper, more protective space. This experience marks the beginning of our disconnectedness and explains why so many of us have difficulty finding our way.
By the time we reach adulthood, many of us have lost access to the truth that lies inside the retreated soul and have become simply what we were expected to be. We take jobs, create careers, marry, have children, and so on largely based on unconscious agreements with people in our daily lives and those who have influenced us. As it turns out, living this way works for some people. But many others yearn for something more.
Somewhere along the way, the sleeping soul grows restless and longs to finally express the truth of who we really are. It becomes the still, small voice within that says, "Wait a minute, this isn't the life I wanted. This isn't who I really am! How did I get here? How do I get out?" And suddenly we begin to question our life's choices and look around at the world we've created and to feel trapped. At a certain point, we often realize that we bought a ticket to a life that we no longer wish to live but that there is no refund.
As a Warrior type I have fought being defined by anyone and have always felt compelled to help others find their paths. From an early age I knew that I had a purpose and destiny. I did not, however, have a clue what it was.
I was born with an intuitive gift of seeing the truth in others. In my work, this gift has frequently allowed me to "see" if someone is on his or her true path. Sometimes I can see the obstacle blocking the person from their path. I rarely reveal this information directly to people but work instead to facilitate their own discovery of it by opening the door.
We are blessed when we are truly seen and appreciated for who we are. We all need people to hold the space for our greater truth to be known until we can see it for ourselves. Finding our way back to our path and purpose can be a lifelong journey. Some people are lucky and discover it early in life. However, most of us struggle with this journey and often fall down or get lost along the way. And that's okay. There is no such thing as a mistake when you are truly working toward finding your path. What matters is that you keep making the effort. Our task is to simply keep moving toward the light until we can see.
In the thirteenth century, the great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi wrote:
There is one thing in this world that you must never forget to do. If you forget everything else and not this, there's nothing to worry about; but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you will have done nothing in your life. It is as if a king has sent you to some country do a task, and you perform a hundred other services, but not the one he sent you to do. So human beings come to this world to do particular work. The work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person. [The Illuminated Rumi, by Jalal Al-din Rumi]
Although the truth is eternal, it is not easy to find if we are busy looking for something else. If you're trying to find your path, it will be easier to discover if you stop expecting it to be clothed in money. I often ask the people I work with what took them off their path. They usually answer with conviction that "there's no money in it" or that they "cannot afford to make the change." I can only tell you what I know to be true: You cannot afford not to make the change. The price for not changing is far higher than you'll ever know.
People come to me wanting to make changes in their lives. They feel they are off course and want to seek a new direction but are uncertain about how to go about it. They frequently feel trapped by their choices. More often than not they feel their only ticket to freedom is money. If only they had enough money, they could make that change. Most people believe that money will cure their problems, will buy them out of the life they're living and into the life they desire. Money is the magic wand, the solution to all our problems. Many of us believe it is the answer to the prayers we often forget to pray.
During the course of our lives, as we have become increasingly disconnected from Spirit, we have lost access to our power. We have become blind to the light within us. The more we have placed our trust and faith in the outside world, the darker and more unfamiliar our inner world has grown. Without the unrelenting voice of the soul, which constantly seeks our attention and never stops trying to redirect us back to our path, we would never find our way.
We all possess an inner compass: We just have forgotten how to use it. The soul doesn't say, "Follow me, I'll show you the way to the money." It just says, "Follow me, I'll show you the way." Forget about money! It will show up when it is time. Our task is to simply heed the signs and follow the directions provided by the Spirit within.
When we are on the right path, all our needs are met in abundance. Before I go any further, I should say that the words abundance and prosperity are not the same and need to be clarified. Abundance is our most natural state. To have abundance means having plenty or more than enough. Yet the concept of "enough" is what creates a dilemma for most of us.
Abundance is very subjective, since what one person considers plenty is a mere pittance to another. Prosperity, on the other hand, is a little easier to define. To be prosperous means to be "successful or fortunate." We have come to believe that being truly prosperous requires "having a fortune." As a result many people live in a state of abundance without knowing it, because they were seeking the "fortune" of prosperity.
In my experience, prosperity does not come easily to those who wait for it or seek it out specifically. Prosperity is what happens to people while they're busy doing other things. If our actions are connected to our path, then we are truly fortunate, for we will know the joy of prosperity that comes from fulfillment. The following questions will help you examine and distinguish between prosperity and abundance as they relate to fulfillment in your life.
Do you feel abundance in your life?
If not, what do you feel is missing?
Do you feel you are prosperous?
What does prosperity look like to you?
What makes you feel fulfilled?
What remains unfulfilled within you?
What are you willing to do to change that today?
Fear of moving from the known -- even if we don't like it -- into the unknown, prevents most of us from realizing the magic and wonder of being on our true path. Every day I encounter people who allow fear to keep them from moving forward into the uncertainty of the path that lies before them.
It helps to keep in mind that we are all already on a path. Not one of us is an accident. Even if we were not all "planned" by our parents, that does not make any one of us anything less than a miracle. We were not just created because God needed extra people to take up space. God doesn't make mistakes. Everyone and everything has a purpose.
We each have a gift to give -- a unique part of us that no one else can give. When we have discovered, or, more accurately, uncovered this part of ourselves, we truly begin to shine. I believe that we often get lost while searching for who we really are and our true path because of the misguided belief that they must have something to do with our occupation or vocation. What you do is not necessarily who you are.
What you do to earn money is not always a reflection of who you are. Those who find a connection between their path and their livelihood are greatly blessed. I wholeheartedly believe that this is a state of grace available to us all. It does not, however, always come easily or in the package you might have anticipated. It often comes with great sacrifice. And sometimes we wait too long to take the journey, only to find that the journey is over.
Two years ago, my life's path changed dramatically. Sometimes I think that just when you're settling into your life, you get a wake-up call and realize you were not really settled in at all. One morning, I received a phone call informing me that my close friend and kindred spirit, Barbara, had died. Although she had been ill, I was not prepared for her death. I didn't even get to say good-bye to her. Barbara had been the best friend you could ever hope for. Her life touched me deeply, and her death changed my life immeasurably.
For months before Barbara's death, my own health had not been very good. The long-term effects of stress and fatigue had worn me down. I knew I was fighting a battle I could not win. Just two years earlier, I had told Barbara that her business was killing her and that she needed to change her life. She was beginning to fade, and I saw it. She cried when I told her this and said that she felt trapped and afraid. She was paralyzed by financial fear and did not know how she would survive if she gave up her business.
I advised her to have faith and trust that everything would work out. All the signs indicated that she was meant to move on. I told her, "God will support your decision to make this change. But you must find the courage and faith within to take the first step and let go. Holding on no longer serves you." Together we worked on finding a way to change her life's direction. Eventually she agreed to put her business and her home up for sale. Although she was afraid and did not know what her future held, she knew she could not continue her life as it was.
Unfortunately, almost two years had passed before Barbara was able to free herself of her financial burdens. Shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Now, two years later, I was beginning to see the same signs in my own reflection in the mirror. I had known for a long time that I needed to make a change. I knew I needed to write. I also knew that we only get so many chances to follow our path and do the work we were brought here to do. I could feel Barbara's spirit: She was my messenger. I knew that I needed to let go of the life I was leading and my business to change my life's course. I had put off living the life I really wanted for too long.
One morning I woke up and said, "I'm selling my business and I'm going to write my book. I've been doing my work and helping other people to live their dreams, and now it is time that I do the same for myself." In other words, it was time to walk my talk. It wasn't that I didn't like what I was doing. To the contrary, I enjoyed being a financial consultant, and I was good at it. However, I knew there was a deeper purpose to my work that I had been putting off discovering. I was waiting until I had more money and more time, until my daughter was older... all excuses that stemmed from a lack of faith. Intuitively, I knew that I was meant to take this leap of faith. I could no longer delay making this choice.
Exactly one month later, I sold my business and began writing this book. I surrendered to my faith completely, and my faith was rewarded. In the months that followed, all the doors opened, and my life became flooded with miracles. My every prayer was answered. I asked for help and received it beyond my greatest hope. Friends and strangers offered their guidance and support. Before I knew it, I had an agent. All the money I needed to facilitate my decision came to me more easily than ever. In less than one year, I signed my first book contract. Shortly thereafter the publisher I had envisioned publishing this book bought it.
There are no accidents or coincidences. When you are on your true path, the universe conspires and collaborates with you in the most magical way. People have told me many times how my story is the exception and not the rule. I choose to see it differently. I think that miracles are happening all the time, all around us. They are simply waiting for us to become available to them. All we need to do is step into them with faith and surrender.
When you can freely express the gift of who you are, you are in direct connection with Spirit. For here you have access to your higher self, the part of you that holds the key to manifesting your highest dreams. In this place, the possibilities are truly infinite.
To determine where you are in relationship to your true path, answer the following questions:
1. Do you feel you are on the right path?
2. If not, do you think you know what that path is?
3. What gifts or special talents do you have?
4. What brings you joy?
5. What aspect of you brings the most joy to others?
6. Is there something you have always wanted to do that you have yet to choose for yourself?
7. What would that be?
8. Why aren't you doing it?
When you have finished answering these questions, take time to check in with yourself, internally, and experience any emotions you might be feeling. What did the previous exercise bring up for you? What feelings of pain, loss, or grief did you experience? It is important to acknowledge and work through these feelings. Write them down in your journal while they are still fresh in your emotional body. This process will help you release and heal any residual pain and clear the way for the creative flow to come into your life.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library. ©2000. www.newworldlibrary.com.
by Deborah L. Price.
Deborah Price is the Founder and CEO of the Money Coaching Institute, which provides money coaching services and training to individuals, couples and families. A former financial advisor for over twenty years with firms such as Merrill Lynch, Mass Mutual, AIG and London Pacific Advisors, Deborah left the financial industry to pioneer the field of Behavioral Money Coaching in 2001. For information, visit her website at www.moneycoachinginstitute.com.