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Is it ‘Self-Sabotage,’ or is it Your Inner Wisdom, Holding You Back From the Fire?

 

I often have clients  desperate for help to stop “self-sabotaging” themselves. I often sigh. It’s sad to me when a client starts out healing work with an implicit accusation at themselves. But it’s common.

There are certain situations that incline people to accuse themselves of self-sabotage. Some of them might be:

  • Procrastination
  • Not finishing projects
  • Awkward conversations at networking events
  • Chronic disorganization and lack of planning
  • Getting started well and then losing inspiration

See? I’m sabotaging myself! I guess it’s better than calling ourselves idiots or losers, but it’s only a little better, I think.

What if there is wisdom in this “stopping” behavior? What if your inner guidance system is like a mother, holding back the hand of her child when it reaches for the fire? Would you see that as sabotage? Or an attempt to love and guide the child safety, while it’s still learning?

Nonetheless, it’s important to acknowledge that this stopping behavior is frustrating our forward movement. It can’t be endlessly indulged if we intend to succeed in realizing our life’s hopes and dreams.

And some of us, we have to admit, feel like it has, indeed, been going on too long, which is really, really painful. This has concrete impacts on our ability to have a safe, secure and happy life.

This is especially true if you’re trying to establish a business, because this requires a consistent and successful capacity to take action steps so that a new creation can live and thrive.

But the first step is to notice if there is anything of wisdom in the stopping. In my experience, there are two sources for this stopping:

1. Old safety and family patterning that has outdated criteria for what is safe and what helps us belong. If this is the case, the stopping is trying to keep us well and happy. Healing this kind of stopping pattern involves, in part, noticing the way these patterns took such good care of us a long time ago, even though they are outdated now.

2. Our deep values and sense of integrity which has noticed, before our conscious minds have, that we are fundamentally out of alignment with the actions we’re attempting to take. Healing requires noticing that we are trying to make ourselves do things that violate our integrity, like marketing copy that feels slimy, or a networking event that doesn’t feel like we’re really getting to connect.

Both of these stopping patterns require some practice to notice and adjust. Most of us need help in learning how to see when something like this is happening, and figuring out the right approach (see last week’s article, If You’ve Got the Problem, You’ll Get the Wrong Answer).

Do you struggle with “self-sabotage”? Does it help to think of it as inner wisdom, trying to be seen? Please post your comments and questions below.

Next month, I am offering a Business Growth Series for Alternative Practitioners and Coaches who want to resolve obstacles to being successful. Part of that work is getting better and better at instinctively addressing those problems as they arise, so that security, confidence and joy in business becomes the norm. Sound interesting? For more information, scroll down, or go to Business Growth Series, and if you want to know more, please contact me.

One Response to “Is it ‘Self-Sabotage,’ or is it Your Inner Wisdom, Holding You Back From the Fire?”

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If You’ve Got the Wrong Problem, You’ll Get the Wrong Answer…

Problems arise in our lives, and for those of us in business, that’s where they show up. It’s part of the deal, right?

But some of the problems are especially difficult, the ones that pretty much stop us in our tracks. We’ve tried various ways to resolve the issue, but nothing quite works. This is a real problem.

We live in a time and a place where these kinds of problems are often just called “unconscious blocks.” That’s accurate to the degree the source of the problem is not conscious, and it’s blocking us. But it actually doesn’t help us figure out what we need to do.

First, we want to know what kind of problem it is. When we’ve figured this out, we can begin to find ways to resolve the problem. If a problem is labeled inaccurately, it’s possible that our attempts to solve it will actually make it harder to change.

Tragically, I see this a lot with people trying to build a business (but it can come up anywhere). For instance, someone can’t get moving in their business, and nothing they  try works. They can’t get enough clients, and they can’t get to an income level that is sustainable.

What’s the problem? Often, this kind of pattern gets labeled as something wrong with their success mindset: “Deep down, you don’t really want to be successful. Something in you wants to be small, and success threatens you. You need to step into your bigness and claim your success!”

Well, that’s possible. Certainly, many of us have childhood experiences which might make it really scary to have what we want and experience full success. But there’s also a chance that’s not what’s going on at all. And if that’s so, this diagnosis can be hugely detrimental to the cause of moving forward.

It’s like going to a doctor who sees a fever and always diagnoses the same disease. There are so many different things that can cause a fever, and getting it wrong can actually be deadly. So, what are the problems this person could be having?

In my experience, there are three kinds of big problems:

1. Unconscious safety patterning. This is the kind of thing lots of us are getting more familiar with. We have a pattern left over from childhood, or inherited from our families, that kept us safe once but is getting in the way now. When we address these, deep healing takes place, and people find themselves easily being able to do things they couldn’t do before. Two things usually lead to this healing: either an intentional investment in personal healing, or a personal crisis that shifts things very deeply and quickly.

2. Learning in process, or what psychologists call a “developmental” issue. Something isn’t working well because we haven’t gone through a cycle, or we need a new skill, or we just aren’t ready for that step (something else needs to happen first). Lots of problems in business and in life are inappropriately pathologized when they are merely learning issues. I’ve seen clients visibly relax when they hear that their problem is completely normal, and will resolve on it’s own if we give it time and the right resources. There’s no big issue to be healed.

3. Being out of alignment with ourselves. This is the biggest hidden issue that I see afflicts practitioners seeking to build a business. We can’t move forward when we are out of alignment with ourselves. We can’t “make” ourselves do things that aren’t centered in our values–any attempt to do so tends to derail us. Our inner wisdom puts on the brakes and forces a stop. For many practitioners, there’s an impression that business isn’t in alignment with their healing work. This can be compounded by well-meaning business coaches who instruct the clients to try business practices that just don’t feel good to them. In the end, it doesn’t work, because wisdom has forced a stop, but often this gets interpreted as our insufficient success mindset, or some other unconscious block, when it’s nothing of the sort. We just need another way to get there. The good thing in business–as in life–is there is almost always another way to get there.

Can you see how knowing which problem you’ve got could help you figure out what’s the right next step? When you think of a problem in your life or business right now, one that’s really got you stuck, which one do you think might be involved? (And yes, it can be more than one, although it’s usually predominantly one of them.)

I want to hear your stories of getting stuck, and which of these problems might be behind it. Please post your comments and questions on my blog here.

Next month, I am offering a Business Growth Series for Alternative Practitioners and Coaches who want to resolve obstacles to being successful. Part of that work is getting better and better at instinctively addressing those problems as they arise, so that security, confidence and joy in business becomes the norm. Sound interesting? For more information go to Business Growth Series, and if you want to know more, contact me.

2 Responses to “If You’ve Got the Wrong Problem, You’ll Get the Wrong Answer…”

  • Leslie-
    I LOVED this post, thank you so much. I primarily wanted to reply to #1 and #3 , having encountered these personally in my own business development and learning curve (#2 happens, but I learn pretty quickly…) . Thank you so much for speaking to #3 regarding business coaching and no “one size fits all”…yesysyesyesyes is all I’m gonna say. Those of us that are healers, artists, teachers, leaders creative types all are very individualistic and need the spaciousness to be both grounded and have freedom.

    Gratitude for naming this point.
    with love,
    Asherah

  • Yay, Asherah! So glad that resonated for you. As healers who are also in business, we need to find a reliable way to check in with our values so that we can develop business practices that are in deep resonance with who we are. In my experience, at that point, the trust in business can become very deep, and success starts to flow…

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The Unexpected Rewards of Going “Off Track”

Have you ever had (or known someone who had) a chronic and distressing physical condition? For people in this situation, it can be really difficult to figure out who, of the many, many healing and medical practitioners out there, can actually help them. It can take years of trying people who don’t work, and then when they find the right one, ah! it’s an amazing experience of relief, of being seen, of being in the right place.

In different ways, we all understand this experience, in some area of our lives. I certainly do.

A few years ago, as a new healing practitioner who knew nothing about business, I was desperate to figure out how to grow my practice. For those of you who’ve never had this problem, you may not realize the baffling and diverse array of “business growth” programs and services that are out there. It’s really difficult to figure out where to start, what to trust, what programs will pay off the substantial financial investment required to participate, and who can actually help.

Eventually, I ran into some really creative business growth people. I ended up spending a LOT of money for a program that, in the end, despite its creativity, really wasn’t a good match for me and my way of growing in business. A good match for others; not so much for me. Sigh.

I’d gotten seriously “off track.” I’ve been there in other places in my life–the therapist I thought would help, spending years, and finally realizing I just wasn’t moving forward; the chiropractor that was in so many ways amazing, but my back still kept getting injured anyway.

You know what I mean. It can be so demoralizing to make the big commitments, only to find that it really wasn’t the fit you thought it was going to be. Again, sigh.

Nonetheless, I am very, very grateful for this detour in business, now that I can see it from a perspective several years later. Because eventually, I found business coaches who were more in alignment with my values, preferences, sense of myself, and my goals, and I probably never would have found that if I hadn’t gone so seriously off course.

“Off track” can be a huge gift. When we finally figure out that we are on the wrong path for us, then often what happens is huge clarity about what really is the right path for us. It’s the contrast that makes it clear.

What we really want is to feel in our bones what it’s like to be in full alignment with ourselves. We want to be fully congruent, knowing we can trust ourselves, our choices, and the world we’ve chosen for ourselves. There’s nothing like it.

All of us have a place in our lives where we feel this alignment. Sure, most of us have areas in our lives where we just can’t figure it out–relationships, or work, or in our emotional lives–but we all also have areas in which we just know who we are, and that we are fine and that we are on our own side.

Take a moment, and think about that part of your life. What part of your life would that be? A piece of your work life that you are really good at and you know you’re good at? Maybe a sport. Or a set of relationships you deeply trust. Or perhaps it’s art that you do. Where in your life do you trust yourself completely (or completely enough)?

Now, imagine that that is a physical space around you. Imagine it growing larger and larger, including more and more parts of your life, so that more and more, you trust yourself and you are in alignment with what most matters to you.

No one wants to go off track. But when it makes clear to us our deepest values, and inspires our re-commitment to what  matters most, it’s almost worth whatever discomfort (and for me, money!) it involved.

What discomfort, what out-of-alignment experience, is currently teaching you about what matters most to you? 

One Response to “The Unexpected Rewards of Going “Off Track””

  • Love this, Leslie, especially ” that we are on our own side.” Lovely thoughts to meditate on in my daily writing to self reflections! I also love the image of that room of alignment getting bigger and bigger. I feel that gives me more and more space to play and to be myself.

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What is Your Relationship with the Heart of Your Work?

If you were to stand across from the heart of your work–your business, your vocation, your employment, your career–what do you think it would feel like?

These questions are part of a recent exercise that I developed that I’ve been using a lot with my clients. I adapted it from a prayer practice I learned from the good and wise people at The Heart of Business. I’ve adapted their prayer practice into a constellation exercise that has been a powerful tool for many of my clients wanting to heal or grow their work.

Why would this be so powerful? It’s important to remember: Your work is not you. It may be your creation, but it isn’t you. In the constellation field, it’s a separate representation, and therefore, it’s something you have a relationship with.

However, because we don’t tend to think this way, it doesn’t necessarily occur to us to check in with this relationship. And, even if it did, how could we? It turns out that constellations gives us a great way to do just that.

For anyone who is struggling in any way with their work, or who simply want to grow in their work, this exercise can be a great way to find out what’s really going on, and it can also begin to suggest ways of moving forward.

Here is the exercise; I invite you to give it a try! Take two pieces of paper, and on one write your name. On the other, write something like “The heart of my business,” or “The heart of my vocation” or “The heart of my career,” or whatever seems like the right language and a match for what your work is. Place these two slips of paper on the ground across from each other, perhaps a few feet apart.

In constellation work, as soon as we place our intention on exploring the field, the unconscious of a system–in this case, by putting down the pieces of paper– representations for these two are present, just as if you had two people in the room looking at each other. (For those of you who are familiar with this work, it’s something that you are already accustomed to. For everyone else, give it a try!)

Now, step on the paper that has your name. Allow yourself to settle into the field, and then just notice what you feel. Neutral? Happy? Nervous? Notice that there is “someone” across from you: The heart of your work. What does that feel like? Warm and trusting? Doubting, fearful? Just notice without any judgment how that feels. Then, step off of the paper for a moment.

Then, step onto the other paper. You are now “representing” (a technical term in constellation work) the heart of your work, standing across from you. As the role settles, how does that feel? Do you feel big? Small? Nervous, trusting? What does this relationship feel like to the heart of your work? Again, notice without judgment.

Just this is often a huge aha for my clients. They finally really feel what is going on, and they realize that staying in touch with this relationship is really important. For instance, a client of mine did this exercise and discovered that the heart of their business felt really small and needed a lot more support. Another one noticed the heart of their business didn’t really trust them, and realized that the issues of trust she had been dealing with her whole life were invisibly blocking her own business, which she loved so much.

If this exploration is all you do, that’s great. However, you can also continue to explore, going back and forth, asking questions, seeing if moving the positions changes anything, just seeing what’s there.

At the end of the exercise, do one last thing while standing on your piece of paper: Tell the heart of your work that you promise to stay in touch and grow this relationship. This is a very, very important relationship, and like all important relationships, it requires our commitment to stay in touch, check in, and create connection.

When you are done, you may wonder, what next? You may have had strong feelings, but what can you do about them? There are lots of ways to continue working with what you’ve discovered.

One way is at my workshop on August 23rd, which is going to be a day of constellations exploring the invisible structures of our businesses, and resolving blocks. It would be great to have you! Click here for more information.

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“The Problem is Really in Your Neck” Huh?

“Jill” is an especially smart, experienced and committed healing practitioner. She’s a master at what she does, and she’s motivated to work hard on her practice. Enough work comes through, but she never really thrives. She has the funny feeling that every time she has more than enough, something terrible will happen and she’ll be blamed for something. It makes it really hard to enjoy her work and feel like she’s got success.

Jill had been stuck for years with this pattern. She’s paid business coaches lots of money over the years to help her fix what’s broken and help her move forward, but although she learned a lot, it never really changed. Her business remained a struggle.

Does this sound familiar, in any way, to something in your life? Something unworkable that simply makes no sense? Not only can this be draining and expensive, but it’s ultimately demoralizing: Why bother? becomes the understandable question.

I’ve got persistent back problems. It’s a herniated L4, for you folk out there who know what that means. I’ve gotten all kinds of help, which indeed has made it better. I have a network chiropractor every once in a while for a “tune up.” And once in a while, she doesn’t work on my back at all–she works on my neck, because the tension and misalignment there is what’s actually fueling the lower back problems. And then, I feel much better.

As Jill paid good coaches to help her, it was like she was getting help with the area that wasn’t genuinely the problem with her. The problem was somewhere else, but where?

Jill comes from a family that had experienced deep and enduring poverty, and it cost them a lot to come to the U.S. and find a different life. Unconsciously, it was as if Jill was at a big dinner table with her poor, struggling ancestors with empty plates in front of them, and finding that she has no appetite to eat while her ancestors remain hungry.

Who among us could bear the unconscious guilt of that? And it turns out, most of us are struggling with unconscious guilt of exactly this sort. Which one might yours be?

If you’ve been reading my articles long enough, you know there’s a solution: bow to the suffering of your ancestors, honor the dignity of their fate, and ask their blessing as you choose another way. This is the respectful way through, creating more positive, strong connection, while allowing less negative influence.

For many healing practitioners and coaches, stuck in their businesses, this is one of many kinds of invisible obstacles that can be holding their businesses back. If you’re a practitioner, I invite you to join me for a day of uncovering these limitations, and creating new freedom for your business. For more information, take a look at this constellation workshop coming up in late August that is especially for alternative practitioners and coaches.

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If You Can’t Get “Traction,” Some Hidden YOU Needs to Be Seen…

I work with many clients who come in with a sense that they have been stuck forever; whatever healing they try, they can’t get “traction.” I’ve been noticing this pattern for a while. And I am beginning to notice two of the things that are often at the heart of it.

In one instance, people are stuck because they are in deep pain about not having the life they expected. Often this is the result of a dramatic event, the kind of thing that creates the sense of a fork in the road, when life is permanently changed, and the life they thought they were going to have is lost forever. A sudden miscarriage, going to jail, an accident leading to a permanent disability–these kinds of things almost feel like a theft of a life they knew they were going to have.

The other instance is when someone had a terrible experience of childhood that was especially lonely or unnoticed by others. For many of these people, to “move forward in life”–to become more healthy, or get work they love, or see their business thrive–feels unconsciously like abandoning their past, unhappy selves. Almost as if, to move forward, they have to tell their past selves that “it didn’t really matter.”

In both these instances, there is a version of you that is almost holding the present version of you hostage. In the first instance, we can’t move on because we only want the life we didn’t get to live; in the second, we can’t move on because we can’t bear abandoning our past self.

In both instances, when we look at the situation systemically (which constellation work makes possible), your parallel self (the life not lived) and your past self (the one who had it so hard), are both real elements of your system that have real effect on you and your life. We feel compelled to stop our life in its tracks because to do so is a betrayal of those other selves.

This is classic devotional patterning: the way we make our lives impossible out of love for someone else in the system. It’s just in this case, the loved one is an alternate version of ourselves. Bert Hellinger would say we are “entangled”: we are trying to include and love someone else in the system whom we perceive as lost or not fully respected.

So what is the answer? The answer is to consciously respect these alternative selves. In the first instance, see the version of us who continued living the undisturbed life, acknowledge that one, grieve the loss of that one, and ask for that one’s blessing. In the second instance, we acknowledge the younger one’s fate, and notice that things get better for our past self only when we allow that one’s future (that’s us) to get better.

There is no difference between this and honoring the ancestors properly. In this instance, we are respecting our multiple selves properly, and including them, giving them a place in our hearts (as Hellinger put it).

The important healing is coming into rapport with all aspects of ourselves; in this instance, our selves across time. It’s astonishing how stuck we can make ourselves when we are at odds with other selves in time. And it’s also astonishing how quickly we can move again when we find that rapport, the sense that none of our selves across time (even the times when we were most self-destructive) are against any of the others.

As a last movement, we can notice our future self, doing so much better than we are, now in full motion and happy about it. It’s important to see that one concretely. It turns out many of us, in childhood or at other critical moments, imagine that we have stopped having a future, because we can only imagine our future being painful. That can really help for a time (especially in childhood, when we have so little control, or in times of special, ongoing crisis), but eventually, we need to regain our future.

Because when we imagine a future self doing well, that one starts to have an effect on our system, truly, as another living representative within it. It inevitably affects us, and helps move us toward what we most want.

Are you unable to get traction? Take a look at your past and future selves, and see if some honoring and respect for all of who you are can help. And, if you suspect something like this may be at work, but you can’t feel it fully, connect with me, and let’s see if we can’t create life changing rapport across your life, for yourself.

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If You’re Not Worth Much, Neither is Your Business (Ack!)

For much of my adult life, I admit, I had a decidedly childish relationship with my finances. I ignored them as much as I could, and when I did deal with them, it was usually at the last minute or entirely too late. I am embarrassed about the amount of money I wasted on late fees, lost opportunities, and ignorant spending as a result of having no awareness of my financial situation.

 

About two years ago, I suddenly felt inspired to sit down and start exploring my finances. Over the course of about three months, I informed myself about my situation, and gradually put things in order, creating systems, getting advice, and gaining clarity.

After years of struggle, I was surprised this simply was not such a big deal. Yes, it had a learning curve, but it was all learnable, and anything that required more than I knew I could get help with. In fact, I stumbled on an amazing discovery: managing my finances responsibly was interesting and fun. Wow.

 

For the last few weeks, I’ve been reflecting with you about how we are of infinite worth, and how that can get distorted in our lives and in our families.

How about for business? Many of you on my email list are yourselves alternative practitioners and coaches, or in business of one sort or another. What does it mean when struggles with worth show up in business?

Frankly, it’s almost impossible to be in business if we don’t have some sense of of our infinite value, at a deep, unconscious level. What trouble can that cause?

  • A tendency to undercharge, or to attract clients who say they can’t afford your work.
  • Excessive indebtedness.
  • Consistently poor income.
  • Worry and anxiety about money that makes enjoying your work almost impossible.
  • Struggles with financial management that make the necessary ongoing maintenance of your business really difficult.
  • An inability to market, be seen, and share the word about what you do.

Sometimes, these problems are big enough to prevent success and/or joy in your work. At that point, we inevitably wonder if it makes sense to give up, change direction, or get a job instead of pursuing our passion.

Every day, I work with amazing practitioners who are really skilled at what they do, but they can’t share it because money issues are making it impossible for them to build their businesses consistently.

For some reason, I take it personally: when I see gifted practitioners, I really want them out there, doing what they do so well, without a lot of worry, and with enough confidence and joy that they can keep moving forward successfully. And when they can’t, it’s really frustrating for me.

Money problems like these are manifestations of struggles with worth in our families. Discouraged practitioners cannot just force their way through: they need insight into how things went so awry in their families, and they need a better way to belong than to lovingly continue the struggle.

When this happens, a new way appears. There’s no more struggle. We try, and it works, and we recover our confidence.

This is what happened to me two years ago, when suddenly, dealing with my personal and business finances became doable, interesting and fun. Believe me, before that point, I simply would not have believed it was possible, but now I know what I’ve always suspected: when we clear and complete old patterns, change becomes inevitable, a natural expression of our being.

This healing is possible through the power of family constellations. Want a taste? Join me for two free calls that are coming up this week! They are on July 3rd & 10th, 6-7p PT.

These two calls are going to be a way for me to introduce to you and your friends a deeply healing series this summer: You Are of Infinite Value: Healing Money Problems that Come From Your Grandparents (and their parents). This is a six week teleseries starting July 10th that I hope you’ll be part of.

I invite you to explore the possibility of healing the struggles with value that are in your family.

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What are You Worth…In Your Family?

What Are You Worth? by Leslie Nipps

If this title makes you uncomfortable, join the crowd: It actually makes me feel very uncomfortable. But it’s an important question, not because it’s answerable (it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be), but because it points to the deeper heart-ache and desire for unconditional love at the heart of every family.

How did people know what was worthwhile in your family? Was it:

  • making sure you had financial security, no matter what?
  • doing better than “the Joneses”?
  • not embarrassing anyone and making sure you go with the flow?
  • giving everything away and keeping nothing for yourself?
  • keeping everything, and giving nothing away?
  • or, perhaps, having nothing to begin with?

In themselves, there’s nothing really wrong with any of these standards of worthiness. But they are a poor replacement for genuine love and belonging, which we all naturally want.

They are also a terrible guide to how to deal with money, in any form. As I wrote last week, human life, love and meaning cannot be measured in dollars and cents. The only way to answer the question of “What is someone worth in your family?” is “Everything.” From the Family Soul point of view, everyone is precious, necessary, included and belongs.

We live out our lives in the tension between this radical inclusion of our family souls, and the contradictory messages we receive from our families about worth. What happens next?

  • We have jobs we hate.
  • We are drowning in debt we can’t pay.
  • We are underemployed throughout our lives.
  • We can’t ask our clients for appropriate payment, or we attract people who are unable to.
  • We find ourselves in money relationships of conflict and unending resentment.
  • And much else.

What a mess. But the good news, there is a way out. Proper belonging–a way of belonging that doesn’t require our families to become better than they were or are, and which provides infinite support, inclusion and love.

This may sound unrealistic. And if I suggested you do it just by “changing your mindset” or snapping your fingers or placing an affirmation on your mirror, you’d be quite right about that. That’s not realistic. Systems are powerful, and we can’t think our way into a different experience of them. The emotional system always wins.

Finding proper belonging is not a mindset fix. It’s genuine healing of the Family Soul of which you are a part.

This healing is possible through the power of family constellations. Want a taste? Join me for two free calls that are coming up in a few weeks, July 3rd & 10th, 6-7p PT.

Next week, I am going to continue this article series on our Infinite Value with a focus on the special anguish that comes from how our complicated inheritance around worth makes being in business especially difficult. You might be able to scrape by with crappy work, but if your relationship with worth and your family (and how it impacts money) isn’t in order, being in business is almost impossible, and makes it hugely painful.

I want to introduce these topics as I invite you to consider joining me for a deeply healing series this summer: You Are of Infinite Value: Healing Money Problems that Come From Your Grandparents (and their parents). This is a six week teleseries that I hope you’ll be part of. (See more info about that, below.)

 

 

One Response to “What are You Worth…In Your Family?”

  • I am really enjoying your insightful articles and hope that you will consider turning these into a book one day. There have been so many self help books and workshops around “getting” money but they usually are from an intellectual point of view or from as I call it the “cheer leading” perspective, which do work for some but leave so many people feeling even worse when they still don’t seem to be able to move forward. The insights as to the messages, overt and hidden, that have been passed down and then the vibrational shifts that happen in a Constellation are so powerful in helping people move into a new and healthy place with regard to self worth that can then shift their relationship to money.

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If I am of Infinite Value, How Come I Have So Many Money Problems?

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Let’s get this straight: Yes, you are of infinite value. And, we don’t always feel that way. Not to mention even believe it. So much gets in the way of knowing this, and in a lot of ways, it doesn’t appear that life looks this way.

We think in terms of prices, because we live in a culture where most things have a price, including the medical costs of our birth and the costs of raising us. So, we naturally ask questions of worth about all kinds of things. But the truth is, the attachment of “worth” or “value” to our existence is pretty silly.

The better way to say it really is the old credit card ad: we are “priceless.” That is, we cannot be measured in any way by money. Just like you can’t measure the volume of air with a ruler (meant to measure length), or the square feet of your apartment with a geiger counter (meant to measure radiation), money simply isn’t a meaningful measure of our value. The best we can say (and it isn’t really a good way to say it, but let’s stick with it for now), is that we are of infinite value.

Okay, we say, no big deal, got it. But then, we have to do things like: ask for a raise for having gone above and beyond for our employer; balance time spent at work vs. being with the kids; figure out how much we can afford for a vacation; the price of a special meal for our sweetie on our anniversary; or price our services with our clients. And then we start to ask “What is it worth?”

Again, it’s a perfectly logical question. But for many of us, this sets off all kinds of alarm bells. What am I worth? Am I worth a vacation, a raise, to be paid this rather than that? And if you have any struggles with self-worth, issues of belonging with your family around money, or any one of a dozen different money-related issues, we are going down the wrong road, one that simply does not get us to any useful answers.

“What is it worth” is almost always the wrong question, because every single one of those things is ALSO of infinite worth. I can even argue that going to a movie (which usually costs $10-15) could potentially be of infinite worth, if we see it as part of a life of joy, delight, fun and recreation. What would a life be worth without those things? Not much. And yet, your local movie theater has to price these things in some way that makes sense to you and me when we think about going to the movies.

When we are solid about our infinite worth–when we know it, deep in our bones, without question and really without even thinking about it much–then we can start to bring some logic, consideration, meaning, choice and heart-felt desire to what we want in life that costs money, or with respect to asking others for money to pay us for our services. These become, then, transactional relationships of dignity and simplicity.

So, the big question, for any of us who struggle with this, is: How do we learn, deep down, our infinite worth? That’s a big question, but I’d like to start us in a useful direction: it has something to do with proper belonging in the world, and bringing in strength from a place much greater than one we can exercise on our own.

Many of us struggle with our worth, because worth was a struggle in our families. Ouch. But, this is available for healing. It is changeable, for you and the life you want to create now.

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How to Balance “Letting Go” and “Let’s Be Careful”

 

Block Island Sky by Leslie Nipps

Block Island Sky by Leslie Nipps

In my late 20s, when I had my wonderful conversion experience (maybe I’ll write an article about that sometime!) I had to choose a church to join. Immediately, I found myself needing to balance ends of a ritual spectrum: the churches that had lots of sensual, spiritual abandon, but didn’t seem to me to be very thoughtful and reasoned about their beliefs, and other traditions that were very thoughtful in ways I trusted, but weren’t very sensual or experiential.

In the end, I chose the Episcopal Church, having found a church (St. Gregory of Nyssa, San Francisco) that seemed to have balanced these two perfectly. When I became a priest, though, I found that I had chosen a very thoughtful tradition that has wonderful rituals that are usually not very sensually carried out. We are very book-oriented, we don’t move a lot in the service, we all face forward, and most of the action happens “up front.”

I loved my church, though, so I committed myself to this world that turned out to be not as lively, sometimes, as I wanted.  And, in extreme cases, what I found were communities that were almost obsessed with “being careful,” not breaking the rules, not upsetting anyone, maintaining order. There is great beauty at the heart of this instinct (go to any monastery in Europe that has maintained the old prayer traditions, and you’ll know what I mean) but for day-to-day life, it was almost suffocating.

I realized that I needed an occasional “big Jesus” moment, as I called it. Some form of worship that was entirely abandoned, carefree, not careful at all. Most of the places I found this kind of worship, I never could have made my permanent home because often that abandon came with beliefs and behaviors I found pretty worrisome, but I loved their full-hearted, sincere, uncareful way of worshiping.

Do you struggle, in your business or in your life, with having to find a balance between these two? Do you spend so much time trying to be careful, make sure you’re doing it right, that sometimes you feel you are suffocating?

It doesn’t work forever. At some point, it becomes a deep instinctive need to risk, try something new without worrying so much about whether it will work or not. To do it just to find out if it feels good.

In a world where we often have to be heart-breakingly careful so much of the time,
it is deep relief when we don’t need to, we can trust, relax, let go, and allow what comes.

When I work with heart-based practitioners, I almost always find this dynamic. And often, they haven’t been able to find the balance in their work. They are caught in “being careful,” either with others in their lives, or with themselves.

My job is to create a good space to feel free to be imperfect, beautiful, and growing. And to know that this space is the best space for having a business or a happy life.

Where do you find the balance between “letting go” and “let’s be careful”? 

5 Responses to “How to Balance “Letting Go” and “Let’s Be Careful””

  • Ceci:

    What a beautiful piece, Leslie! I just went to a high school graduation party of a family I tend to keep some distance with. They belong to a religion that, from my personal view, is too controlling of their members – to the extent that the brilliant young man who graduated is discouraged from pursuing an education with a very good University that accepted his application. Their reasoning is that a college degree equals pursuing riches, which goes hand-in-hand with sin. Anyway, when I do socialize with them, I find that I am always having to be careful… walk on eggshells around them, pretty much, so that I wouldn’t do or say anything to upset them. This graduation party was the first time I realized I was not being respectful of their beliefs, but just “careful”… which denotes a certain level of “fear”, I thought. Fear to make them upset, fear that they will cast me away, fear of not seeing the little ones at all anymore, etc.
    What an interesting dynamic. Now, how to “let go” in this type of situation?

  • I resonated very much with your words regarding the search for a spiritual “home”. The letting go and let’s be careful part is a bit more nuanced. The “letting go” and “lets be careful” both personally and professionally has a lot to do with who I am speaking to. If I am with a client I ask myself how I can best communicate with them. If I use language and terms that they either don’t understand or causes them to shut down I’ve accomplished nothing. If I am in a social situation and feel that either I would be insulting someone or trying to “teach a pig to sing” I usually just go with the flow. All of that being said, in my blog posts and when I speak both professionally and on social occasions I do express my authentic self as often as I can. Professionally I want clients I can work with, who are the ones I want to have and who will most benefit from what I offer. If people see more of who I am via my website and presentations then they can make the choice if I am the right practitioner for them.

  • Thank you for sharing so much from your own experience, Ceci and Nancy! I’m not sure if you are looking for insight into your question, Ceci, but without knowing more, the only thing that is usually at work is finding a way to distinguish current realistic fears (they may get upset, they might not want to see the children, etc.) from old fears that tend to be much more intense (fear of abandonment, rejection, shaming). Then, we can make choices about dealing with the former, while seeking healing around the old patterning that is at the heart of the latter. Peace to you both!

  • lena gorham:

    Great topic Leslie! I’m really finding the struggle of being careful and free when it comes to the entire stance I regard life. Being resently sober I’m becoming aware of how much the drugs and alcohol use were a way to “be free”. Or free of the bondage of “self” as they often say. I now have a deeper hunger for spiritual freedom and I am finding some relief from the step work I’ve been doing. Those moments when I pop into strong “being presence” feel quite free. But I still struggle with not knowing what real healthy freedom looks like. Many people I’ve encountered that appear quite free tend to also strike me as quite self absorbed and unaware of how their actions effect others. I want to be free but also respectful of other peoples experience of that freedom. I also have not always treated myself well so I have fears that I may do something that would be detrimental to myself were I to behave too “freely”.

  • Ooh, I love this expansion of the conversation, Lena. Yes, when is “freedom” an escape, when are “boundaries” actually prisons? Everyone at some time or another has experienced good order as deeply freeing, and a bit of freedom as nicely ordering. Finding the correct balance, and getting more and more trusting of ourselves that we know that balance, at least well enough…

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