Money is good, right? As so many abundance teachers will tell you, money is just energy, and there’s plenty of it, and you just need to welcome the energy.
And knowing what is dangerous and what is safe should be easy, right? A charging tiger is dangerous, and group of peacefully grazing gazelles is safe.
Truth is, though, our poor brains can get very, very confused about what is dangerous and what is safe. All kinds of perfectly good things (like money) can stimulate our fight/flight response, and make it very, very hard for us to have sufficient or abundant financial means.
If you are having trouble with money, I can almost guarantee that your brain is not entirely sure it’s safe for you. And then, there’s absolutely no chance money will flow. None.
A bunch of things go into feeling safe with money:
- A relationship of respect and inclusion of your family’s history with money.
- The awareness that money is just money: it’s not love, it’s not safety, it’s not loyalty, it’s only money.
- A good feeling about your place in the world, that you belong with or without money.
Now, at a conscious level, we can all be on board with those beliefs. That is not a problem. But if we’re stuck about money, then probably, unconsciously, we don’t really believe one or more of these claims.
You can’t fix these with simple affirmations or upbeat, encouraging workshops. They can help, but they rarely get to the root of the unconscious conviction that money isn’t safe.
What does work? Elegant change work that works directly, in a friendly way, with your unconscious, so that it can begin to experience money as safe.
Join me on May 25th for a workshop where we will work with your brain and your ancestors, so that you can, really, re-choose what you want with money, with full dignity, and get support from your brain and your ancestors to have what you want.
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If you have been struggling with money, how come? In a world of abundance, and, indeed, a country of abundance, how come some of us struggle so much with money?
As a solo entrepreneur, I am involved in a lot of networks and communities that I hope will help me grow my practice and increase my income. I get lots of offers to join 6-Figure this and thats. These organizations want us to believe that abundance is everywhere, and that wealth is just a function of mindset. (Of course, to be even just a little more cynical, their promise to make you rich quick is part of the sales job…)
It’s an awfully nice idea, but there’s a huge problem with this framework: It takes each one of us completely out of our cultural context, and it ignores that “mindset” isn’t something that is just ruled by our conscious minds.
Here are some things I’ve noticed about clients who have struggled with money:
- Some of them have ancestors who got their wealth through unfair means.
- Some of them have ancestors who has their wealth stolen from them.
- Some of them have ancestors who had great dignity although their material wealth was minimal.
- Some of them lived in households where the role of money in the relationship between their parents was so toxic, it felt like money itself was a threat.
- Some of them had primary breadwinners (usually the father) who suffered enormously in this role, and were fundamentally absent as they tried to provide.
Do any of these scenarios speak to you? Take a moment, notice the visible or invisible dynamics that might be at work that are making money feel:
- “for other people”
- always out of reach
Mindset won’t fix this. And it certainly doesn’t matter much that abundance is everywhere. That’s, finally, not really the point.
What is the point? The point is that lack, fear, loss and betrayal in our family systems around money needs to be honored, included, and given a dignified place. If this doesn’t happen, our re-choosing hardly matters. But when it does, it really, really matters.
Take a moment, now, then, to honor whatever happened in your family–what you know, and what you don’t know–around money across the generations. And then ask them, with great dignity, to send you their blessings of life…
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I have family in Boston. Many of you have family and friends there. Or, you’ve been there once and loved the city. Or, you’ve admired the Red Sox, or been an aficionado of the Boston Tea Party. Or, you have seen or reflected on violence in other parts of the world, and you grieve.
Experiences like this connect us. Needless to say, it shouldn’t take something like this, but already we are hearing lovely stories from Boston of people reaching out to those in need, and neighbors coming together. Something good is deeply evoked.
The loving, suffering field of our ancestors has something real to offer to us. I admit, it feels a little weird to be publicizing my free telecall at this time, but mostly, I am honored. I am passionate about sharing this work because it really makes a difference.
Feel this: Imagine Boston itself as “person,” big with history, dignity and power. Now, imagine the first residents of that area, the Massachusett people, standing there with their dignity. Add the victims of the first Boston Massacre in 1770. Add in the patriots who oversaw the Boston Tea Party and participated in the Revolution. Imagine the whalers, and the slave traders. Imagine the slaves, who often first touched the New World here. Imagine the boys who died in the Civil War. Include the generations of mothers. Now add, finally, the victims of yesterday, and especially include 8 year old Martin. Imagine them all together, the “good” and the “bad,” all together, sharing the dignity of being human. Boston holds them all with love and support.
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I’ve been thinking about two ways of being a human:
- In Eastern cultures, people learn about where they belong in their families, their neighborhoods, and their culture. They understand who they are by noticing their proper place with others.
- In Western cultures, people learn to look inward, to find out who they are and what it means to be an individual, unique person.
Both of these ways have deep wisdom, and I think we need them both to have a full life.
Since in the West, we tend to almost exclusively emphasize being an full individual, often what we need are concrete ways to understand how we belong, especially to our ancestral networks.
Bert Hellinger, the founder of Constellation work, introduced a beautiful, powerful way to experience proper belonging as a way to becoming fully human.
I will forever be grateful to him for showing us this way. It has changed my life. My parents were troubled alcoholics. It wasn’t easy to receive nurturing from them in childhood. But now, through this work, I can find a real basis to experience their authentic love for me, and the love of all my ancestors. I have found that I always had a good place in my family, and I belong.
I am becoming fully human.
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Last week, two special days collided. First came Ash Wednesday. The next day was Valentine’s Day. It may not be obvious to everyone, but I am struck by what they have in common: Love.
Ash Wednesday says:
No matter what, no matter what you do, no matter what you experience, yes, no matter what, you are loved. No getting away from it. No opting yourself out. You may feel unloved. You may be utterly convinced you are unloved. My deepest and sincere apologies, but you are loved. I invite you to start living with it.
St. Valentine’s Day is a little different. It says, quoting astrologer Rob Brezsny:
Meditate on the relentlessness of your yearning for love. Recognize the fact that your eternal longing will never leave you in peace. Accept that it will forever delight you, torment you, inspire you, and bewilder you — whether you are alone or in the throes of a complicated relationship. Understand that your desire for love will just keep coming and coming and coming, keeping you slightly off-balance and pushing you to constantly revise your ideas about who you are. Now read this declaration from the poet Rilke and claim it as your own: “My blood is alive with many voices that tell me I am made of longing.”
Both days seem to affirm something: it can take some courage to love. Especially when our heart has been broken. Especially when our hearts were broken when we were small children, some of us still in the womb. Our growth became a condition (and in our minds, the cause) of infinite separateness, and we are in mourning as we seek to re-establish re-union.
So, I am enjoying these two days very much. Why? Because they invite me to stop a kind of trying that means I will never have what I reach for. It invites me to just have these two days, bask in love that is here right now, and admit that profound defeat that is our victory.
My love to you all.
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“Hasten to that which supports…” – I Ching
Are you trying to live on mere gas fumes in the tank? Despite lots of good personal and energetic work, do you…
- Feel empty, disconnected, ungrounded?
- Find it impossible to settle into work that is meaningful, supportive, steady?
- Reach for relationship but can’t really embrace anyone?
- Have a persistent sense of wrongness or a lack of belonging?
Then I begin to wonder: How are things with you and your ancestors?
In our busy, modern world, many of us are immigrants, disconnected from our ancestral lands and relations. Others are disconnected because of a tremendous ancestral trauma their forebears’ experienced. In either case, trying to live our lives fully is like trying to run our car on lingering gas fumes in the tank: without a proper connection to the energy of our ancestral sources, we don’t have enough gas to get anywhere.
I grew up in a very homogeneous suburb north of New York City, in a town my parents had moved to a few years earlier. Colorado, Chicago, Quebec—some of the places my ancestors lived—were very far away, not to mention Germany, France and England, where my immigrant forebears came from many centuries earlier. I was vaguely embarrassed of my ancestors: upstanding, apparently unimaginative people who were clergy, merchants, and politicians. Go far back enough, we probably have slave traders somewhere in the tree. For much of my life, I tried very hard to be something different and have a new family, one I could choose and that would be more the way I wanted family to be.
Talk about running on fumes! These were the people who had given me life, and I was trying to concoct a life that pretended they’d never existed.
We all have complicated ancestors. We all have ancestors who have been noble, honest, kind and creative. We all have ancestors who have been dishonorable, cruel and small minded. We all have ancestors who have thrived, and we all have ancestors who have suffered more than our minds can imagine. And each one was exactly where they needed to be to bring us into the world.
Energetically, there is no disconnecting ourselves from our ancestors, and deep down we don’t really want to (even for those of us with very, very cruel ancestors). The life they send down the line to their descendents is a present energy that continues to flow in us, and without it each one of us would immediately stop breathing. This is as true, by the way, for adoptees and orphans who do not know their ancestors, as it is for those of us who have inherited detailed family trees.
For many of my clients, the conscious or unconscious protest against being the descendent of their particular ancestors has limited their lives tremendously. So the first step is to consent to these people being our ancestors. Acknowledge them, see them, notice their difficulties and all it took for them to bring us into the world.
When I work with my clients we get very specific about the particular lives and challenges of their ancestors: the Irish Potato Famine, the Cherokee Walk of Tears, a great aunt that barely survived the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, a great grandmother abandoned by her parents in Kansas. These stories carry great weight through the centuries, and arrive in our hearts still powerful and unresolved.
Here’s an introductory exercise you can do, with whatever ancestral history you have:
Close your eyes, and imagine in front of you a big set of bleachers. Your parents are standing on the first level of the bleachers. Behind them are their parents on the next level. And behind them their parents, and on and on. Notice in about ten lines you have over a thousand in a line. This is your tribe, from whom your life comes. Notice the sad ones and the happy ones. The wise ones and the fools. The crazy ones and the sane ones. Just look at them all with respect.
Many of them have suffered, but they survived long enough to send life on to the next generation, eventually reaching you. You could not be alive without them. From your place, down the line, you can do nothing to assist the older ones, up the line. Their fate is theirs; it is part of their dignity to have suffered it and in their own way, endure. It is not your fate.
Now, in your mind’s eye, bow to them and say “I honor the dignity of your fate.” Hold the bow for a bit, feel that in your body, let the commitment to help them release, maybe just a little, maybe quite a lot. Instead of holding something for them, let them bless you and the life that is in you. Accept life and blessing from them.
Having done that, take a few breaths, feel your whole body, allow the image of your ancestors to disperse, and come back to here and now.
As Family Constellations author and practitioner John Payne says: “It takes a very courageous child to be happier than its parents.”
With humility, we can allow our ancestors to have their own suffering and their own choices; we can ask for their blessing as we choose to fully embrace the life they have given us. Then we commit to living a life that reflects the very best of their accomplishments and dreams, which becomes the precious inheritance we’ve been looking for all along.
We are no longer running on fumes. We’ve got a full tank, and we’re ready to go…
This article first appeared on lightworkersworld.com.
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When I was a kid, more than any particular present, I wanted: the Christmas tree up with the usual ornaments, the crèche all arranged, the stockings hung and bulging the next day, the Messiah, Odetta and Pete Seeger, and cookies for Santa (nibbled by morning next to a witty note we all knew mom had written). And snow, for good measure.
When I look back on it, I wanted all the reassurance that comes from warm family traditions, year after year. From an NLP and Family Constellations point of view, what I wanted was secure belonging, peace and safety, and in an alcoholic family that might explode in fights and chaos at any time, these were the best Christmas presents I could ever ask for and receive.
Our brains and our souls are on the same side in this instance—give us peace and reassurance and a kind sense of belonging. Give this to everyone, every creature on the planet.
Yes, throw in the occasional challenge, the place of discomfort that forces needed growth, surprises we cannot prepare for and therefore deepen our resourcefulness. We know we need these, too. But for those instances to be encouraging rather than demoralizing, we need the other, a sense that, ultimately, we are safe and well and up to the remarkable task of living.
May this season give you all the cues that let you know that you are, indeed, safe and well and up to the remarkable task of living. I look forward to renewing this reassurance in 2013 with many of you. And I thank every last one of you, for your support, for reading my various missives, and for showing up.
Many, many blessings of Life for you this year.
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Inner Conflict: That exquisite pain we experience when we are fighting with ourselves.
It can be blatant:
- I want to have the second piece of pie AND I want to lose weight.
- I want to pursue my career in New York City AND I want to live near my friends and family in the Bay Area.
- I want to study Chinese Medicine now AND I want to plan more judiciously for my financial needs.
And, it can be subtle:
- I love my career BUT something about feels like it’s “not quite me.”
- I adore my spouse BUT why does it sometimes feel like I can’t be myself?
- I am happy to work hard BUT is this all there is to life?
These inner conflicts can be as intense, or even more intense, than the ones we sometimes have with friends, co-workers and family. And it can hurt much, much more.
Inner conflict from time to time can be great creative “juice” for moving us forward in new directions. But inner conflict, endured for years, can be soul killing. It’s us against ourselves.
When inner conflict has become soul killing, what can be done?
Here’s a small taste of what’s possible:
Take moment, and pretend each side of the conflict is a person, someone you respect and to whom it would never occur to you to be mean.
Then, imagine that one “representing” one side with full passion and commitment. Listen to you tell it the wisdom it has, and just why it so wants this for you. And then, listen to the other one. Imagine both sides of the fight have something valuable to say.
What shifts for you when you can respect both sides? Usually, something starts to move. Sometimes, a “third position” (the famous “third way” of the Buddhists) will start to show up, too, usefully de-stabilizing the di-lemma, and creating the promise of a whole new way to experience the situation.
Imagine what life would feel like if we discovered that ALL di-lemmas were illusions, and that behind all the conflict, there is loving wholeness…
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Do you get Facebook postings like these? Along with pretty pictures, they try to encourage us with advice like:
- Taking one step at a time makes life easier to navigate rather than always looking at the big picture.
- When we learn to face our fears, we learn to observe our thoughts and feelings but not be ruled by them.
- Try taking the reins and begin assigning a kinder meaning to the events in your life and you will likely find yourself on a much more pleasant ride.
Who can argue with any of these recommendations? But when we’re stuck in negative ways of living, thinking or behaving, good advice almost never helps. I don’t know about you, but when I feel like I can’t easily apply the good advice, some part of me feels like a failure–why can’t I do this simple, good thing?
Will power is lovely when our conscious and unconscious minds are in alignment. We experience this all the time, and it is so easy that we don’t even notice it happened. I want to go for a hike and…I go for a hike! I want to eat a healthy meal and…I eat a healthy meal! I want to call my friend and go for a movie with her and…that’s exactly what I do!
And then, there are those days when we can’t do something as seemingly simple as go on a hike, eat a healthy meal or call a friend and go for a movie. We tell ourselves we ought to, even that we want to, but find it impossible, and sit in despair and confusion at our stasis.
Will power, in this context, is a fiction.
Our “will power” works when things are aligned, and it absolutely doesn’t when things are not aligned. Sometimes you can shove yourself to do a thing for a while, but that kind of forceful will power doesn’t usually work for long, and it’s often a pretty miserable experience.
The unconscious and the conscious mind need to be on the same page for anything like will power to work (and then, it’s not really will power, it’s just choice!). On rare occasions, we feel a spontaneous re-alignment, and it’s just about the loveliest thing we can experience: we suddenly toss the pack of cigarettes in the trash, we find ourselves with renewed energy for our stalled job search, we joyfully call a friend after weeks of withdrawal.
This re-alignment can be arranged through good change work. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Family Constellations rather excel at it, in my experience.
What is longing for re-alignment in your life?
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All of my clients come to me with painful, hidden patterns that won’t change, no matter what they do. Things like:
- They keep choosing partners who don’t respect them.
- They can’t find success in their work.
- They can’t make enough money to be secure financially.
- They struggle with depression or anxiety.
In my last blog, I talked a bit why this is true neurologically. But there’s another way to look at the why these patterns don’t change:
For some part of us, this painful pattern is the best shot at survival, happiness and success that it can imagine.
Now, this sounds completely wacky (that’s a technical term). How can something that is so painful and unwanted be something that seen as good and useful by some part of us? But I guarantee it, it’s true. And here’s a useful exercise to play with, next time you feel like banging your head against a wall when a pattern comes up.
Just ask yourself, if there was something good intended by this pattern, what might it be? If we applied this to the above bullet list, what might we come up with?
- By choosing partners who disrespect me, I never have it any better than my mother, whose partners disrespected her. I’ll never leave her behind.
- If I don’t have success, I’ll never fail.
- If I never have enough money, I am guaranteed to never be like my wealthy ancestors who got their money dishonestly or at someone else’s expense.
- By being unhappy, I respect my ancestors who died terribly in an historical tragedy.
These may not be your answers, but they are the answers for a lot of my clients. It turns out that they are up to something very, very good for themselves! This is always true.
Knowing this doesn’t change everything, but it’s usually a powerful re-frame that lays the foundation for further, deeper change.
What hidden good thing may you be up to, without even knowing it?