Money Troubles

Money Troubles

A friend of mine is struggling with debt and asked for some advice. This was the response, edited for the medium.

First, it’s useful to understand a few things. For one, the nature of money. Money is just a symbol. A medium of exchange. A form of energy, in a way, as it’s the ability to do work. But it has no meaning in and of itself, other that what value we give it. This plays in the stock market all the time as the fortunes of companies are made and lost largely on how the company is perceived. Economies run much the same way – it’s more about perceived value than actual.

We live in a culture that pushes the value of stuff on us constantly, so it’s easy to think our value depends on what we have and that we should want lots of stuff. The most heavily advertised stuff often has little real value. At the same time, we receive very mixed messages about money and wealth. It’s one of the reasons money is such a major issue in many lives and relationships.

It’s also important to recognize that each of us has our blind spots, the places where we resist, where our karma shows up. If much of your life is working really well, except with money, you’ve made really good progress.

Next thing to understand is the mechanics of what I call the story. The internal messages we have running on autopilot, coming from habit mind. No matter how well you understand consciously, as long as the sub-conscious drivers remain, your efforts will be thwarted. It only takes one moment of lost insight to blow a budget.

The story runs on what might be called the identity construct. It has 3 primary layers – the core identity which is sub-conscious. The emotional drivers of that. And the conscious mind that hears the stories and seeks to understand, justify, and otherwise respond. And it has the silliness to think it’s in control. (laughs)

There’s a couple of key points:
– you can’t solve a problem on the level of the problem. You remain part of the problem. You have to, as Einstein suggested, take a step back out of it. Only then can you have perspective. As long as you are in the problem, it will remain a blind spot and apparently unsolvable.

– as the identity above notes, the energy drivers of the story are the emotions. So if you want to nip the behavior in the bud, you need to pay attention to how you feel. Then you will see the story while it’s coming up. This is what is driving the behavior, not your understanding. Not the thoughts. As it becomes more recognized, you can see it arising and nip it in the bud.

It’s also worth noting that you cannot change your thoughts. It’s a pointless exercise to even try. Your thoughts arise spontaneously. Same with the emotions. What you can change is how you respond to them. What you believe. What you give attention to. As you begin to see through the story as just some drama, it begins to be diffused and dissipates. Without energy to drive it, it stops arising.

Congrats for facing your demons. Remember that they are boogie men and our fears far outweigh that actual danger.

Asking for help is a great first step. Beware the quick fix artists and legal loophole promoters. Who’s credit are we playing with? Are they asking you to pay for advice? Not necessary – there are free credit counselors all over North America. With options that may surprise you. Just Google ‘free credit counselors’ with the name of your area.

There is no shame in being human. This is really common and facing it clearly allows you to make choices and change. Being unwilling puts you at the mercy of other forces. You become a victim of yourself.

One of the reasons the current economic troubles are as challenging as they are is the debt load that the majority of people carry. Debt they were invited to take over and over. But the economy goes in cycles and if people depend on income and investments to keep climbing, at some point, there will be a correction. And if people are living on the edge of a paycheck, it doesn’t take much to push the house of cards down.

There is some facts about money that are not taught in schools. Even in University economics classes. We use a financial system in much of the developed world based on fiat currency. Our money has no actual value. It’s just fancy paper, ever since we left the gold standard. The nominal value printed on the front is completely relative to demand. Currency markets are constantly adjusting the perceived value. It only has value if people think it does. History teaches us this lesson.

The key detail is that when you make a loan or use your charge card, you are creating money with your signature. That cash did not exist until that moment. With that money, you then purchase goods, stimulating the economy. If you have debt, you pay interest on that spending. Everyone has profited from your money creation.

If you are then not able to repay all those funds, who has lost? Where did the money come from? You created it. Certainly there are consequences to failure but they are temporary setbacks. There are no debtors prisons. Nothing is lost that you actually owned, unless you put it on the line. It’s much like a chess game. Pieces may be lost but only until the next game.

Put another way, it’s only a problem because you see it is a problem. It is only a problem of perception. A challenge perhaps, but not a problem. It’s the nature of being human to fall down a few times on the journey.

It’s not appropriate to share others examples here, but suffice to say, when you are willing to be with it as it is, to allow what is present and be OK with it, then you can begin to move towards a resolution. It doesn’t mean you have to be happy about it. Just stop pretending it’s anything other than what it is. No boogey man. No end of the world.

You don’t have to find a solution, you just need to step out of it and begin moving towards a solution. It’s remarkable what can arise.

And here is the best part. Through this process, we can learn a HUGE lesson in allowing, in being OK with what is. This can take us way ahead emotionally and spiritually. A lesson that will serve us very well long term. It may not have been the end of the chapter you planned, but the next chapter may really surprise you.

The key is commitment to see it through and allowing what is to be as it is. Blame, shame, fear and all that trash is just arising from a resistance to what is. And that is a resistance to your happiness.

Remember, there is no alone here. We’re in this together.

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  1. Eric

    Thank you, Davidya, for showing us a relationship between what we are experiencing economically and our spiritual nature/growth.

    If I may submit an opinion: Most people don’t realize that, a)money is just a commodity (another way of saying what you did, that we attribute value to it) and,b)that our federal government does not “own” our currency. Private banks do. The right to print money is licensed by the feds. There is a book titled “Secrets of the Temple:How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country” By William Greider that would be a great help to anyone trying to understand how our monetary system works (or doesn’t as the case may be).

    But the workings of the monetary system is not what I came here to talk about. The fact that money’s value is only what we attribute to it makes it analogous to religious and spiritual values. The value of our monetary system exist only because we believe it does. We may be in the beginning phases of withdrawing that belief.

    We have just come through the most rampant era of consumerism this society, and maybe the world, has ever seen. It appears it may be ending. I think that collectively we have realized that it has not brought peace, contentment or fulfillment on national, personal and spiritual levels. (Or maybe I’m just projecting!) We just might be collectively forcing the issue of transferring belief from values subject to much abuse and arbitrariness, money, to those of a more constant and eternal (I almost wrote internal,ha) nature, spirit.

    I read somewhere recently that we did not elect just a new president, but a new national identity; a new persona on the global stage, if you will. Sounds about right to me. And if true then a national, subconscious, reassessment of our belief systems would have occurred prior to this shift and we are now seeing the results. I speak from the ranks of the unemployed and I have to say I am very,very hopeful about the future direction of this country. After all, the Chinese symbol for disaster can also mean opportunity if my memory serves.

    I believe you recently posted an article on spring cleaning. How apropos. Well, thanks for letting me ramble.

  2. Davidya

    Hi Eric
    Yes, there’s several good documentaries on Google Video on the subject. Best I saw was an interview with a Fed PR guy. They’re very up front about it. The critical detail is that money is loaned (including all that nice bailout money) to the government at interest. What do they pay the interest with? Essentially inflation. Fundamentally the system is designed to make lots of money for a minority at the expense of the population. It’s remarkable it’s lasted this long.

    Hard to say how it will play out, but the rise of China and India as economic power houses may certainly change the dynamic. Certainly wind down the consumer and debt machine somewhat at least.

    It may help to think in terms of the we. It may or may not be that enough persons have decided it’s not working, but the “we” has. How the changes play out has a lot to do with how people perceive and respond to the changes. The fact that they largely don’t understand the system tends to lead to errors in perception. It at least says something that more people are becoming aware. And if the “we” is on a roll, it’s happening one way or another.

    There’s an old saying – people get the government they deserve. Obama says a lot about whats happening. Much of that is just symbol of course, but people do believe in the message. That will be good for change.

    We do live in what the Chinese might call “interesting times”. I am enjoying the journey. Good luck on your job search. Best tip I can make – don’t make any of it personal. It’s not.

  3. Pingback: The Excuse « In 2 Deep

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