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 a totally new approach to tax season – one that actually sounds refreshing (and, dare we say, even enjoyable?).
This is the time of year when the airways are filled with chattering questions that orbit the inevitable tax return: Should I extend my tax return filing? Will I get a refund? Will I owe taxes?
In the United States, tax month forces societal action because a third-party governing body makes it a mandate. The energy of this mandate is generally loaded with procrastination, anxiety and fear.
Have you stopped reading yet? If you’re still with me, amazing! The word “taxes” has been typed four times, and you haven’t left for something lighter.
It is true that the vibrational energy of tax season feels weighty, regulatory and authoritarian. But then again, don’t finances feel similar in many moments?
So, what if we could raise the vibration of this season? What if the reaction was different? What if completing a tax return was a significant time for contemplative reflection? What if this season was a larger invitation for looking into the past and dreaming into the future?
This is all possible with a few incremental shifts in mindset.
Tax Returns, after all, are stories of a life through numbers. They are not the complete picture, but they are part of the picture. The first two pages of a tax return are an annual summary that captures almost everything. In many ways, looking at the first two pages from various years is similar to reading an astrological chart that highlights themes, shifts, cycles and progressions. And for many people, wages or business income are significant numbers to focus on, representing where life orbited through hours and hours of labor.
So, the power of observation and reflection is huge. There is so much to reveal in the patterns.
My work puts me in touch with people and their numbers. I see where numbers and finances have the ability to highlight patterns, opportunities and understandings…if and only if shame, blame, anxiety and fear simmer down. The Shame/Blame/Fear Cycle squelches integrated financial decision making with psychological chatter: I should have done this. We should have sold this. I should have taken that job. Crap, I forgot about estimated payments. This debt should have been eliminated years ago.
To change the energy of this season, a person must be open to the power of observation. In Quantum Theory, it is believed that observation changes reality. I happen to believe this is true in finances. When a person reflects upon their finances, they are utilizing a revolutionary process that believes in the power of bending reality by observing what occurred. Observation fosters new pathways in the brain as the person analyzes what they see, what they don’t like and what they desire to be true. Observation has the potential to open up the mind for greater dreaming, vision casting, and forward thinking. All of these elements are the opposite of survival and chaos, which is generally how people approach tax return completion.
Can we all say, “My back is against the deadline wall, so I’m completing my tax return?”
Yes, this is the societal, energetic mantra: forced completion, the exact opposite of integrated contemplation.
In this season, I encourage you to pause, reflect and peer into the dreaded yet beautiful invitation to review your numbers. As a consciousness raising experiment, print off the first two pages of your tax returns from the past three years. What do you see? What do you feel? What do you remember from those years? What is revealed about your life in numbers? What painful moments (divorce, medical needs or bankruptcy) and beautiful opportunities (bought a house, got a new job, had a child) did these years hold? And, what would you like to see for this next year?
As you engage with the questions above, observe what happens in your internal landscape. What emotions, feelings, memories, and stories come to mind? Bari Tessler, the founder of The Art of Money, encourages people to do a body check-in with financial engagement. A body check-in is a simple and profound meditative tool to help you scan your body for signals and responses (tightness, shallow breathing, gut pains) while you access what is going on internally. Our minds and bodies offer guidance and wisdom for financial growth and change.
This time of year beckons another New Years moment, inviting resolution and fortitude. As the Northern Hemisphere experiences spring, welcome the spirit of new beginnings to this season.
May you experience beautiful reflections as you access the observational jewels buried within your numbers.
p.s. Have you met Hillary?