Money can be a sticky subject, and finances an awkward or conflict-inducing issue we sometimes prefer to avoid discussing with our loved ones (and even with ourselves). That’s why we’re so excited to have Hillary Augustine sitting in as this month’s Guest Editor. Hillary is a financial visionary and healer who helps individuals, couples and organizations find financial alignment and lifestyle integration, and she believes that financial health has significant effects on overall wellness. Today, she talks us through the importance of personal power as it relates to money management.
A myriad of narratives accompany every individual’s relationship to money. In each case, personal power plays an inherent role. Consider these examples:
- The woman who painfully and nervously speaks about the daily dynamics within her household, groping for words to identify her true knowing; there is a leak in the money faucet stemming from generational addiction.
- The surviving couple who go about each day – heads down – surrounded by a world of bills and obligations, unaware of what drives their decisions.
- The sullen, yet determined eyes of graduates navigating a life of student loan repayment and ongoing expenses.
- The person with focused determination who pulls the rip cord on corporate life and travels the world by saving every penny flowing through their hands.
- Those stung by broken relationships, thrown into monetary survival and rebuilding dollar by dollar for a season.
These people use, guide or withhold both their personal funds and their personal power in the midst of complex life circumstances. To holistically converse about money, we must acknowledge that personal power is embedded into every single monetary decision we make.
Consider the definition of power: "The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events." Part of working with money, then, is strategically and systematically identifying and building up our layers of power, setting the foundation for positive money patterns that stick so we can create the lives we want.
Let's go back to those narratives we mentioned at the start. Increased personal power...
- Invites the woman to acknowledge her family's addiction cycle and to find the words that help her navigate day-to-day and much larger realities.
- Encourages the couple to pause and identify the patterns that keep them stuck in life obligations.
- Bolsters the graduates who consciously guide their wages toward student loan payments.
- Supports the traveler who strategically saves money for the next journey.
- Strengthens and heals relational dynamics while healing the monetary ones, as well.
When personal power is wielded in each of these lives, their money stories are impacted.
It's no different for you. Your money story will be changed if you work to enhance your personal power. Here are three key ways to do so:
1. Trust your ways of knowing.
Our bodies have multiple ways of knowing. We can sense life through taste, touch, smell, hearing, intuition and a sixth sense, just to name a few. Even though people hold multiple stories of how they knew this or that – at a gut level – this same "knowing" is often withheld when it comes to money. The calculating, "rational" thoughts overshadow the gut responses. Not surprisingly, but tragically, "rational" ideas are often the only ones given value in the board rooms of life.
When whole-body knowledge is engaged, personal power operates at its peak. Acknowledging all our bodily cues grows our multidimensional personal power. And, personal power grows our ability to wisely navigate our moneyed life.
Conversely, if we never utilize our calculating mind, adding this aspect of knowledge will significantly expand our financial acumen. Calculation and intuition are necessary.
2. Surround yourself with people who have walked similar life terrain.
Poet Antonio Machado says, "Traveler, there is no path. The path is made by walking. By walking you make the path." We are all travelers in life; we journey along our own well-worn paths – as well as intersect well-worn paths by other travelers. So, if you are struggling to find your way or steady your financial footing, reach out to someone who can lift you up.
Community and connection are huge in money conversations – especially relationships that foster empathy and knowledge. There is so much to learn from each other! There are mutually shared patterns, pain and opportunities that can foster learning and growing. Walk with others who have navigated similar circumstances to increase your personal power.
3. Try therapy.
A healthy and supportive therapeutic relationship builds up personal power in a strategic and systematic way. If one's personal power is strengthened and enhanced, their sense of agency is bolstered. And agency makes a world of difference when it comes to money (as well as every other area of life).
When we work on our internal world, we are also working with our money story, even if we don't know it. When working with clients I often say, "We can shift this around, count that and calculate those, but how did your money story come to be this way?" This is a reflective (and even therapeutic-based) question, aimed at getting underneath the numbers to identify the driving forces that create the patterns in the first place. If an underlying story of personal disempowerment is maintained, chances are, the money story will unfold the same way. Therapy works to untangle the disempowerment matrix so that all aspects of human life – including financial – can be strengthened. Summary: therapy is badass!
p.s. Who knew that tax season could be an enjoyable exercise to assess where our personal power lies?