It’s a new year and a great time for letting go of old things, so I’m here to confess – I was a thief.
In 1970 I stole $5.
This may not seem like a great crime to you, but it has haunted me for most of my life.
I was ten-years-old at the time I committed this crime. One day before school, I found 50 francs sitting on the kitchen counter. (It was the equivalent of $5 as we lived in France at that time.) I was curious about the money as I seldom saw money just lying around our house. It was colorful and had a big bold 50 printed on it. I wanted it.
I waited for a few minutes to see if anyone would show up and claim it. Nobody showed up, so I reasoned it was mine and I took it. Major mistake and life lesson in the making!
Spending the money on after-school snacks, later that day, when my mother asked me if I had seen the 50 francs, I lied and said no. Her face told me that she didn’t believe me but couldn’t prove it, so she didn’t say anything. I could feel her pain, worry, judgment, disappointment.
The moment I took that $5 a lot more than money was lost. I lost my integrity and a lifetime of “money issues” was born. I was caught, tried, found guilty, shamed and thrown in jail by the same judge – me. Imprisoned by my own guilt and shame, I locked the door and threw away the key.
I have lived with the guilt of that singular act for most of my life. It has haunted me and has informed how I relate to money and people. With money, it has kept me wondering if I’m worthy to have money, to hold money, to deal with money.
With people, it has made me extremely anxious, cautious and meticulous about making sure I don’t mess up my payments or underpay – least I be judged. In fact, I believe I that for many years I unconsciously attempted to “right my wrong” by focusing more on giving than receiving – as if it would atone for my sin. These days when I make accounting mistakes and I owe someone money, it drives me crazy – until now.
At the age of 57, admitting this flaw, this childhood mistake makes me sweat. How will people judge me when they read this? The truth is…it doesn’t matter. Regardless of what people think of me, it’s time to let it go, to stop the war within and live from a different resonance. It’s time to set the 10-year-old thief free, but how?
Once I was aware of this old tired story that was still running my life, I had a choice to either continue living from the resonance of fear and anxiety or I could embrace a different resonance. Through compassion, forgiveness and letting go of toxic judgments, I chose love.
Twenty years ago, I did not love myself and I certainly did not love money. Heck, I wasn’t even conscious of money and I didn’t want to deal with it, let alone be in a relationship with it. Money seemed…complicated, slightly dirty, only for the truly wealthy and generally icky. (Hmm, wonder why it didn’t stay around too much...)
Somewhere along the way, I discovered that not only can I love myself, I can love money. Now, I can see and hear some of you scratching your head and saying, “What?” “You love money???” Yes. When my perspective of myself changed, my perspective of money changed. It was no longer something complicated, dirty or icky. I started to view money as an energy, a flow.
Fast forward several decades and through that love and respect for money, I’ve learned how to earn, save, and spend money in ways that are in alignment with my goals. I’m also beginning to learn how to better invest and track money. I can even see the gifts I gained from stealing that $5.
That incident made me super-conscious of how my actions impact others. It gave me the foundation for being honest and taught me a lot about instant karma. I learned compassion for others who struggle with money, earning, saving and personal value.
These transformations came about when I decided to be in relationship with money. How was I being with money, and how do I want to be? True to form, I consulted my guru, Google, and looked up the qualities that support a loving, successful relationship. After writing down numerous words, I pushed my guru aside and sought the wisdom of my own heart.
What was I seeking in a relationship with money? What does money want from me? Listening to my heart brought forward qualities of honesty, respect, compassion, communication, loyalty and commitment, joy and intimacy.
Bringing loving, compassionate awareness to my relationship with money was a slow process. Not sure how this was going to unfold, I challenged my belief systems. I asked myself to expand my consciousness around money, wealth and prosperity, and since I believe that everything is related to Spirit, why not money? I also see that all life unfolds in the context of a relationship, and if all life is relationship, then how have I been in relationship to money? Could money not be a path to greater awakening and enlightenment?
Looking at money as a relationship that I value, and that offers value in return, has changed my life. While I still have moments of fear and judgments, it doesn’t rule my life. Learning to love money is setting me free.
While I’ve come a long way in the past decade with my relationship to money and wealth, I’m not “there” yet. (By the way, we never get there.) I’m not an expert; I’m a work in progress, and in 2018 I’ve decided I want a deeper, more intimate and meaningful relationship with money, gratitude and wealth. I want to understand what drives my actions and inactions around money. I want to get to know and engage money on a whole new level and to learn why sometimes I cling to money and sometimes I spend it with abandon.
You may hear more about my money relationship over the year to come as I intend to be open, honest and vulnerable about it. Why? Because I don’t want to live with one iota of guilt, shame, anxiety or depression around money. Forewarning folks, I've given myself a “get out of jail free” card and I’m coming out of that closet. I'm coming home – and this, my friends, is true wealth, true prosperity.
If you, too, want to establish a loving relationship with yourself, money, wealth, life and prosperity I can recommend two books: The Art of Money by Bari Tessler and Lost and Found: One Woman's Story of Losing Her Money and Finding Her Life by Geneen Roth.
Oh, about that $5? I suspect I’ve repaid it several times over, but if not, I’m putting a check in the mail – today. You can rest assured, I've already paid the interest on it, several times over.