Category Archives: Money & Emotion

Keep Calm and Carry On

We are all facing the restrictions and social distancing around the Covid -19 challenge.  As a reminder for myself, I decided to grab onto the “Keep Calm and Carry On” British slogan.  After feeling like this was the mantra for me, I discovered some fascinating information about “Keep Calm and Carry On” as I researched the history of the famous phrase.

As we are diligently trying to Keep Calm and Carry On let’s take a trip in the ‘Way Back Machine’ ala Mr. Peabody and his boy, Sherman (from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon hit) to England just as WWII is looming in the summer of 1939.  The Ministry of Information has been given the task of raising morale and inspiring public support for the war.  There were three posters designed:

  • Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory
  • Freedom Is in Peril / Defend It With All Your Might
  • Keep Calm and Carry On

Between August 23rd and September 3rd of 1939 2.45 million of the Keep Calm and Carry On posters were printed. Only a handful was ever used. The bulk of the posters were destroyed at the end of the war in 1945.

Today, we only know of 16 of the original posters still “Carryin’ On.”  One was found 60 years later by Stuart and Mary Manley, co-owners of Barter Books, Ltd. in Northumberland.  The other 15 showed up on the BBC version of Antiques Roadshow in February of 2012.

So what happened?   Why weren’t they used?  These two links have all the details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_Calm_and_Carry_On

https://history.blog.gov.uk/2014/06/27/keep-calm-and-carry-on-the-compromise-behind-the-slogan/

Suffice it to say that there were too many opinions presented at once. There were complaints about the costs.  There were arguments about the content.  Too many politicians in the mix — We can all relate to that, can’t we?

Winston Churchill managed to send out 14 million leaflets in June of 1941.  He used the phrases Stand Firm and Carry On but not together or even in the same sentence.  This leaflet started with the phrase:  “If invasion comes…” and included 14 questions and answers around ‘practical matters’ of the invasion.  By then he had enough pull to avoid the flurry of opinions from a committee.

As we know, Britain made it through the war.  There was an immense amount of cooperation, collaboration, and courage expressed by their citizens — everything from the Black Outs to rationing, to sending your children to live with strangers for their safety, and too many other challenges to mention.

I agree with France’s current President Macron:  “We are at war — in a health war”  and we have a choice as to how we react to the hardships and restrictions.  Let’s all do our best to Keep Calm and Carry On

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Money Brooding

Do you find yourself brooding about money?  Perhaps you spend hours analyzing how much you have, trying to find the magic key to the numbers?   Or maybe you check your accounts multiple times a day?  If you do, I’m guessing there might be a surprisingly different impetus hidden in all that fretting that isn’t tied to money.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I really want you to have a great interactive relationship with money.  After all, money has so much to tell you.  Money lets you know when you are achieving your goals, or when you need to reevaluate and focus more.  It tells you if your mood is up or down.  Lots of good internal data is available by looking at money.

Like many things, there is a place where it stops being informative or engaging and becomes obsessive and compulsive — kind of like tequila, chocolate or ice cream.

Frequently my clients share with me that they are so tied up in brooding over money that they can’t sleep.  They spend hours in the dark fretting and worrying.  Their minds are sent zooming over all sorts of bad scenarios.  Thoughts tossing and turning around extreme situations like going broke.  Losing everything.  Starving.  YIPES!  Very scary stuff.

This worrying is NOT effective. It’s just spinning and brooding.  It’s not planning.  It’s not motivational.  It is a pain in the ass!

What’s behind it?  I think it’s your Inner Critic.  Now, I know you may hear that from me a lot.  That should, must, have to’ voice is your Critic. Your Inner Critic is very vigilant at keeping you right where you are!

There are plenty of blogs here on my website that talk about this ‘piss ant’, omnipresent, irritating voice in our heads, so I will just give you a bit of the top notes here.

Your Inner Critic is there to keep you safe.  The problem is that its perspective of safe is very narrow.  Your Inner Critic thinks that as long as you are not in imminent danger of losing your life in the next 30 seconds you are fine, and should stay right where you are.  It believes that doing something new will lead to death and disaster.  So it’s ultimate job is to keep you right where you are!  It does not care that ‘where you are‘ may be struggling, or unhappy, or even broke.  You are alive, so don’t rock the boat.

So what does all this Inner Critic stuff have to do with brooding about money?  The Inner Critic’s most effective tactic for keeping you where you are is to distract you!  When you are fretting, obsessing and panicked you aren’t really present.  You miss things.  You don’t hear anything else.  You don’t notice what is going on.  You stay stuck.

Money is the perfect topic for the Critic.  Money is still very much a taboo topic, so we are likely to not talk to anyone else about our money worries and concerns.  Most people don’t feel at ease or comfortable around money, so it’s easy to stir up angst about it.  Oh, and money is tied to our feeling of self-worth and value.  A perfect place for the Critic to stir up distraction!

The next time you find yourself brooding and nattering about money, press the pause button.  Spend a moment or two seeing just how distracted you are.  Are you actually coming up with solutions?  Or are you spinning weird scenarios?

And if you determine that it’s your Inner Critic creating chaos in your brain…TELL IT TO SHUT UP!  Stop giving it ‘air time.’  Change the channel in your head.  Do not engage with it!

You’ll sleep better, and be much more present in your life without the constant distractions.

PS:  Critics do not go away — instead you can choose not to pay any attention to them!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Really shutting up your critic can be a challenge.  I’m happy to help.  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Mind the Horses

When I first learned about Dr. John Gottman’s work around the ‘Four Horsemen’ I was so impressed.  By doing extensive research he had discovered four behaviors that are crucial for us all to both understand and to learn from. He based it on the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ and his message was clear — We need to mind these horses!

Dr. Gottman, after spending countless hours with couples, applies his work surrounding the story of the “Four Horsemen” to the marriage relationship.  My take on the matter is that these principles can be applied to ALL of our relationships, including the one with money —  Yes, you do actually have a relationship with money!  And the horses can give you insight on how that relationship is going.

As long as there have been horses, people have been tasked to mind their horse, meaning to pay attention to what it’s doing.  I think understanding and minding these particular horses is essential to all our relationships and interactions.  Dr. Gottman has given us four of them to be attentive to:

  • Blaming or Criticism: We know this one, right?  It’s all about judgment and more snarky than a complaint.  We may complain about something, but when we add a bit of character assassination, it turns into blaming.
  • Defending:  This one really got my attention when I read what Dr. Gottman said about it.  You see, defending is really veiled blaming.  “The dog ate my homework” shifts the responsibility away from you and to the dog.  It just tends to add more blaming, instead of calming things down.
  • Contempt:  This one is more about tone and intent than the actual words.  It includes things like sarcasm, mockery, eye-rolling, and name-calling.  The best example is Dan Aykroyd’s classic opening Point/Counter-Point line on Saturday Night Live with Jane Curtin:  “Jane, you ignorant slut…” Literally anything can be said in a contemptuous manner.
  • Stonewalling: This one is all about distancing and disengaging.  It’s the ultimate cold-shoulder.  It increases the frustration of the person who is talking to you if you don’t respond or even look at the person.  The word really says it.   Originally it was a noun, meaning “an act of obstruction.”

It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that these ‘horses’ tend to travel in pairs.  Blaming and Defending trot along together, as do Contempt and Stonewalling.  And they both stir up a bunch of dust.  I liken this to the Wild Horse Race at the Rodeo.  If there an issue worth paying attention to in the center of the arena — Like an important topic to be discussed — it will be invisible and ignored, shrouded in all the dust and fury of the horses galloping around.

Okay, so there they are — four horses.  And what do we do about them?  It’s really a three-step process:

  • First, when you find yourself facing a ‘horse’ you repeat this mantra as many times as needed: ‘It’s not about me, it’s not about me, it’s NOT about me….’
  • Second, you avoid getting on a ‘horse’.  Stop, don’t ride at all.  Dismount.
  • Third, in order to help the other person dismount their ‘horse’ try this:
    • Instead of joining them on a ‘horse’, try acknowledging the ‘feeling’ underneath the uneasiness by saying something like:  “Wow, I get when that happens it really bothers you.” Notice that you aren’t agreeing, or surrendering, or apologizing — you are acknowledging and affirming that they are in a tough spot.  It just might slow the ‘horse’.

I know, I know, easier said than done.  We all experience ‘riding horses’  in our lives.  They are in our heads and in our relationships.  Dr. Gottamn’s work can show us something deeper about your relationships.  Try this small experiment if you will.  Think of a horrible relationship from your past…we all have at least one of those to ponder.  Got one in mind?  Okay, now which specific ‘horses’ were present in your interactions with each other?  Which ‘horses’ did you ride and which ones did the other person gallop into the arena?  Now let’s ponder a different relationship. One where you and the other person got along really well. A ‘good’ one.  Any ‘horses’ there?  How does that positive interaction compare with the first one?  Finally, just for grins think about how you are with money — any ‘horses’ trotting around there?

Intriguing, isn’t it? You can see why the concept of the ‘horses’ is something I cover early on with my clients!

What’s really going on with these ‘horses’?  What’s underneath all this?  And why do I say it’s “not actually about you” when the other person is on a ‘horse’The answer is the most important thing for you to know about ‘horses’!

We get on a horse to quite literally, get a leg up.  We trot out a horse when we feel diminished — when our sense of self-worth is low or is challenged, especially when we feel powerless.  ‘Horses’ are a distracting way to pull ourselves up by laying the responsibility elsewhere.  We see it constantly.  A prime example today is road rage.  Even children can be seen getting on ‘horses’ to navigate their emotions— but they usually do it more cleanly.  It’s not hard to see when children are on a ‘horse’ because they have hurt feelings.  It’s harder as an adult to be vulnerable and admit that we feel diminished or put down — so instead we mount up and charge in!

Understanding and taming ‘horses’ matters now more than ever.  They are no longer just running around in our personal lives but are stampeding all over!  It’s time to learn to mind our own ‘horses’ with care and diligence.

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Want some help getting off a ‘horse’, or avoiding each other’s horses’?  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

The Perfection Trap

It seems like it’s everywhere these days: People seem to expect to just magically be perfect at something without practice or study.  I don’t really know what’s behind it—or even if I’m just noticing it because I have several clients who expect themselves to be perfect right ‘out of the chute’.

What I do know is that it’s not only a futile endeavor but a trap.  It’s one of those handy tools that our Inner Critic voice uses.  You have heard me speak of that, and I will continue to do so.  Frankly, I think helping people to stop giving their Inner Critics ‘air time‘ is one of the most important things I do… whether it’s about money or not.  This perfection thing is just another diversion in the Critic’s Toolkit.

Somehow many of us feel like we are supposed to be able to be perfect without practice or effort.  I beg to differ with that.  Even the things that we are ‘good‘ at, or have some innate talent for, require practice, enhancement, care—or we either lose them or they get stale.

This desire to be instantly successful and perfect at something is everywhere in our lives.  We should just know how to write a blog, cook a great meal, play an instrument, or manage our money, right?  Um, no.  All those things and many more take practice—lots of practice.

It’s not even just a matter of patience.  It seems to be more about expectations.  We expect that we will magically be able to do something without struggle or effort.

One side of my family was full of artists, and I do some art myself.  Art is a particularly good example of a skill where you have to give yourself the time and patience to fail, experiment, and just mess up.

Long ago I was taking a beginning drawing class at a local college.  A young guy in his twenties had the easel next to me.  We were doing some kind of sketching, I don’t remember the actual objects.  What I do remember is that he kept drawing a bit and then wadding the paper up and throwing it on the floor.  There were grunts, gnashing, and colorful language that accompanied this endeavor.  The instructor noticed the pile and came over to talk to him.  I both love and agree wholeheartedly with what she told him.  She explained that every art piece goes through a very ugly stage where you just want to rip it up and start over.  I was delighted to hear that because I thought I was the only person who had that problem!  She also said that you just have to keep working at it and get past it.  It’s part of the process.

Along the same line, I recently read an article in Artist’s Magazine about starting a drawing practice.  The article, by Danny Gregory, had a box in the corner titled:  NOTE TO SELF which included these points:

  1. Never compare yourself to other artists… Let their progress inspire, but not intimidate, you…
  2. You’re making more progress than you think you are.  You may not see it, but it’s happening…
  3. Everyone struggles at the beginning… the struggle is normal, inevitable… and a positive sign that you are working through things.

I have several clients who feel like when they take a class to learn something new they have to do things well from the very beginning.  Maybe that comes from competition in school or the need to get good grades to meet family or cultural expectations, but it is not an effective method of learning something new as an adult.  What that idea is really good at is keeping you from even trying to learn something new or improve how you do things.  It distracts you from engaging, and that is a shame.  It’s a Perfection Trap, and none of us want to end up in a trap.

The real question is:  How would your life be different if you allowed yourself to be messy, awkward, and nowhere near perfect?  And even more radical, what if you could think of doing that as the ‘perfect’ way to be?  Give it a try!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Want some help getting out of the Perfection Trap?  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

The In-crowd and Money

Remember your teenage years?  It seems to me that Junior High, which is today’s Middle School, was where it really became clear.  There were the cool kids, the in-crowd, and there were the rest of us.  Most of us weren’t in the in-crowd.  That’s part of the value of a clique: exclusivity.  There were different forms of cliques.  Some were for the athletic types, some for the nerds.  Tough kids, surfers, hippies — all had their own groups with specific rules around dress, language, and behavior.  They worked hard to stay in their group and to exclude others.  Without excluding others there isn’t anything to feel special about.

Many of us didn’t meet the criteria.  We weren’t good enough for whatever reason.  We weren’t pretty, or thin enough.  We weren’t smart enough—or were too smart.  We didn’t have the right clothes.  It hurt and made us feel ‘less than’.

This is not new for humans.  We have been doing it forever.  And the solution is in a very old fairy tale:  ‘The Ugly Duckling’ written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1843.  You all know the story, and the point was and remains to be — stop hanging out with ducks!  Go where you are appreciated.

Now there is a particular reason I’m bringing this up.  I’ve noticed over the years that many of my clients get Money tangled up in this ‘do I belong’ conundrum.  It goes something like this:

  • If I was rich I could fit in with the ‘in-crowd’
  • I’m jealous and envious of those who have more than I do
  • It’s not fair that I don’t have more money
  • I messed up because I didn’t save when I was young, or get a degree, or…
  • I feel like I’m always being judged as ‘less than’ others

Somehow we make up that it’s all about money.  Money is the problem.  It caused it.  I don’t have it.  On and on it goes.  And here’s the rub.  Yes, money may be a factor in this tangle, but not in the way people think.  You may be tired of hearing it, and here it is again:  “Money is reflective, not causative!”  You made choices, some good, some not so good.  And sad to say, you may still be stuck in those choices.  Going over them and over them.  Letting them consume you.

This idea of making it all about money is a giant distraction!  It keeps you from living your life now.  It has you trying to fit into places you likely won’t like when you get there.  It’s the Duck/Swan thing again.  I remember once putting an offer down on a house in a particular neighborhood.  I had this weird thought in my head.  It went like this:  “If I lived in this neighborhood I’d have to put on make-up to get the mail!”  I liked the house, the price was fine, yet it didn’t feel right.  I was not going to be with my peeps if I lived there.  Luckily there turned out to be a siding issue that had us not buy the house.

The thing that has you not be in with the ‘cool kids’ is not money—really!  And if you keep thinking it is, and fussing with it around money, you will just keep spinning in circles.

The problem is that the real issue is harder to deal with.  It’s what’s under the money stuff, and it’s likely about your own feelings of ‘worth’.  It takes courage and fortitude to dig in there, but it’s well worth it.

I’ve recently been on my own journey around this tangle about ‘where do I fit’ and realized that I was hanging around with people who were not nice to me, and I was trying hard to get them to like me.  Finally, I figured out that they just weren’t my peeps!  I set some new boundaries and am hanging with swans instead!  And there is a huge weight off my heart and soul.  See, hanging around with other swans is easy.  They laugh at your jokes, they like you, they respect you… you can be yourself.

Please give yourself the gift of hanging with your own particular in-crowd!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Want some help getting out of this tangle? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Hemlines Affecting the Market?

That was the theory that Julie Newmar suggested on the Dick Cavett Show I watched recently.  Granted, the show originally aired on February 4, 1971, but it’s not as crazy as you might think.

The stock market is having some ups and downs now.  We all know that has happened many times in history.  Loads of people make a living studying the trends and data.  They make predictions based on all sorts of criteria.  Some of them come true, some don’t.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying their research and opinions are not valid.  It’s just that there is an overriding factor that has always affected the ‘Market’, and always will, that many of them are stepping over.

I was thrilled when Alan Greenspan, Chair of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, actually said it.  Here’s the quote:

  • ‘Fear and euphoria are dominant forces, and fear is many multiples the size of euphoria. Bubbles go up very slowly as euphoria builds. Then fear hits, and it comes down very sharply. When I started to look at that, I was sort of intellectually shocked. Contagion is a critical phenomenon which causes the thing to fall apart.’

Simplifying what he is saying:  The Stock Market is based on emotion! and being the analytical guy that he is, he was shocked to discover the impact of emotion on money.  You won’t be surprised to find out: I’m not.

Let’s get back to Julie Newmar — For those too young to know, Julie Newmar was Catwoman on the campy Batman television show of the mid 1960s.  And she did a great job of pleading her case.  It was quite fun.  Danny Kaye, a screenwriter, and a doctor were the other guests.  Kaye was the only one that tried to pull the attention away from Julie.  That wasn’t going to work.  She was dynamic, savvy, and dressed for the part — including ‘hotpants’.  She brought up the concept of how the Market and hemlines were tied together.  Her perspective was that hemlines had an effect on the market.  You see when hemlines go down the market is calm and steady, and when they go up it gets volatile.  Is this a chicken/egg thing?  I don’t think so.  I do think that the actions of the Stock Market and the hemlines are reflective of and a response to the emotional tenor of the time.

The truth is that the thing which most strongly affects money is emotion, and Julie Newmar had that figured out in the early 1970s. That hasn’t changed.  And now, more than ever, emotions are high and on edge.

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride” – All About Eve (1950)

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you need a bit untangling your hemline issues give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Stress is Sneaky

It’s not one thing that creates stress… it’s a whole bunch of things that build up.  Little things that pile on until we are over our edge.

Right now, the world is mired in all sorts of concerns.  We all are feeling it.  Climate change—which they just should have called Global Weirding and no one would have debated it!  The mass shooting of innocent people.  The Stock Market in a tizzy.  Too many to mention. It’s way capable of frazzling our nerves!

But of course, there is also whatever your triggers are!  Little things like health, making money, relationships, the car breaking down.  ‘Tis never-ending!

The real problem for us all is that our biology is behind the times.  It hasn’t caught up and probably won’t, based on the speed of change these days.  Our bodies evolved to use ‘stress’ as a way of getting our attention and focus when bad things were about to happen.  Things like a lion or a pack of hyenas running toward us.  One of the evolutionary fixes for coping with danger is the fight-or-flight response, a physiological reaction to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.

To simplify the result let’s just say we go into hyperdrive.  The “Danger, Danger, Will Robinson” alerts kick in and carry us away.  There are all sorts of things going on in our bodies and minds, not the least of which is we lose our peripheral vision, and can’t hear—which explains why when in an argument you often find someone saying: “Don’t you hear me?” Actually, they don’t, and they won’t until they have calmed down which will take between 20 to 60 minutes after they have stopped stressing.

This has been going on for quite a while.  In 1910 Rudyard Kipling  wrote the poem “If”, which started with “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”  So it’s not new.

The real point is how do we manage the stress?  How do we keep the deep mire of it from sneaking up on us?   There are so many stress factors bombarding us every day that it is prudent to get ahead of it.  Don’t wait!  Create your own pockets of peace now!

There are all sorts of ways to build your capacity for dealing with the vast, never-ending triggers we experience every day.  In my search for balance, it’s the little things that are the most effective for me.  I’m being purposeful in creating what I call “Pockets of Peace”.   Some examples I’ve been trying include:

  • Time swimming—being in the quiet of the water
  • Muting the ‘ads’ on the TV—otherwise thought of as ‘limiting white noise’
  • Reading books that take me away, and are NOT scary
  • Petting the ‘purr machine’—otherwise known as the cat

There are lots and lots of possibilities.  There are only two things to keep in mind:

  1. Have some techniques that work for your own stress reduction in the moment
  2. Have some everyday practices that build calm and peace as a preventative measure

Unfortunately, we can’t actually eliminate stress, what we can do is make choices about how we handle and manage it!  Find the ones that work for you… it’s crucial, especially now!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you need a bit of support finding those pockets of peace give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Fixin’ To?

It’s an old Texas term that most of us have heard, and many of us have used. Fixin’ To‘ is similar to ‘trying’ in its effectiveness.  The question really is “How to get out of the Fixin’ To stage and into the actual doing things stage?”  And like most things, changing your thinking can make all the difference.

Let’s explore a different way to get results, shall we?  You’ve all heard of the Law of Attraction.  Near as I can tell it was originally a Hindu concept, or possibly even older than that.  More recently it has become a “New Age” mainstay with the use of the equation: Intention + Attention = Manifestation.  First let’s move that into clearer language: something like “Dreams, Desires, Goals,” even Fixin’ To for the Intention part.  Frankly the simple word for the Attention part is Action.  And finally manifestation comes down to Results.

Now, hang on.  I’m fixin’ to play with the math a bit.  I think of Laws of Nature like Gravity as working whether or not we believe in them.  Frankly I’ve been having this ‘conversation’ with Gravity for years, asking it to lighten up a bit… but does Gravity even listen to me?  Nope!  I think the Law of Attraction equation works that way too, except I—being a numbers person—want to change it just slightly, from addition to multiplication.  What the equation is really saying is that you need both Desire (Being) and Action (Doing) to create a Result, and math-wise, a multiplication sign makes more sense to me.  If I’ve got only one of the elements without the other it’s like multiplying by zero and the result of that is zero!  Wow!  Math can be helpful.

So the bottom line is that Fixin’ To doesn’t get you off the couch.  Actions do.  And for those actions to be effective you need to be clear about what you want.

One thing I know for sure, is that when you or I get wonky results it’s because we are missing one of those two elements in the math problem!

Fixin’ To is a good step, it’s just needs a partner like action. How about aligning the two together?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Fixin’ to change your money thinking?  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Training Your Brain

It’s one of those things that happens whether you are conscious of it or not: your brain gets trained.  Most of us have heard something about this, the way our brains store information in groups of neurons firing together.  Thus all the information about a particular thing is tucked in the same pile.  That just happens.  The question is how can you use that to your advantage?

I had somewhat of an epiphany about this recently watching a favorite movie with someone who had never seen it.  The film was ‘Cat Ballou‘, the 1965 western romp with a very young Jane Fonda, a wild and inebriated Lee Marvin, and Nate King Cole and Stubby Kaye as narrating  balladeers!  I hadn’t seen it in years.

The moment it started I was flooded with memories.  I remembered sitting in the Wyo Theatre in Sheridan, Wyoming seeing it several times as it played that summer.  I spent many summers in Wyoming with Cup Cake, my grandmother.  She worked at a furniture store; she’d take me with her to the store, and I’d help her.  When she got busy I’d wander the town or go to the movies.

Since I saw the movie several times in the week that it ran, it’s a strong memory.  I even remembered that Lee Marvin won an Oscar for it.  As we watched I could smell the popcorn.  I knew every bit of dialog and every shot.  This was a really impactrul memory, and it was securely tucked there in my brain.  I didn’t actually call it forward—it came on its own.  The main difference between how my brain built this memory and others was that I saw the film a bunch of times close together.

Since we know our brains work this way, we could purposely and specifically ‘train’ them to build strength in areas that are desirable.  Actually, we already do that, right?  We learn things.  We practice.  We gather data.  We do that about all sorts of things… except for money!

Actually we do unconsciously train our brains about money… it’s just that most of the training is negative.  It’s about things that happened with money in our childhoods.  It’s about arguments around money.  It’s about many situations where money was present in the mix, but probably not the actual cause of the problem.

We all need money to survive in our culture, and at some level most of us want it.  It seems to me that it’s a lot easier to acquire and deal with something you like and understand than a mysterious thing you find scary and incomprehensible.  So why not change that?

Change truly results from creating those groups of neurons firing together.  How can you create some new groups—and stop adding more to the old ones—around money?  What might be different if that happened?  You’ve developed memory and expertise around all sorts of things in your life… why not give training your brain around money a go?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Want to chat about how to re-train your money brain? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Follow the Money

We’ve all watched and enjoyed mysteries, and one of the tried-and-true adages of a mystery is: Follow the Money.  In the case of a mystery it has to do with motive.  But where else does Follow the Money ring true?

Actually, Follow The Money applies almost anywhere.  In most instances, money is reflective, not causative.  It points to the issues and problems.  It marks and reports them.  It doesn’t create them.

Wait, what?!  Money doesn’t create problems?  No, it doesn’t.  What we choose to do or not do with money creates the problems, not the actual money itself.  Money doesn’t have free will or volition.  It goes where you tell it to.  It gets used and spent and earned and saved strictly by the actions of people.

All money can really do is tell you what happened.

And it does a really good job of that.  And it certainly does it in more circumstances than we tend to initially realize.  Let’s look at where money talks and tells.

Business:  This one is pretty obvious.  Looking at a company’s financial statements tells you what’s going on in the company.  The way I look at those statements goes deeper than just the sales and expenses though.

For me, the money in a company tells me where the people issues are.  If all the employees in one department are complaining about not being paid enough, that tells me something.  It tells me something is going on in that department that needs to be addressed.  The money is reflective.  If people aren’t paying the company on time, that says something too; it may be about the invoices going out too late, about the product not being right, or about a lax follow-up procedure.

The money can be talking about a lot of different things, but it is certainly reflecting information.

Personal: I also think money is reflective in our personal lives.  What does your money say about you?  Where do you spend it?  What kind of attention do you pay to it?  What is it reflecting?  If you really look at your money, you can learn a lot.

I once worked with someone who said they had money all over the house, tucked here and there.  They didn’t really know where it was.  They didn’t know how much they had.  That’s a reflection of this person’s money perspective.  The fact that the money is all over, and not “organized” is reflective of something.  Follow that money mystery and you’ll get somewhere interesting, somewhere important.

Sometimes following the personal money leads to some pretty predictable places.  The money might go toward a collection, it might go for a child’s education, it might go for a car.  It is most likely to reflect the person’s interests and passions.  It also will reflect the person’s money prejudices—those beliefs they fund without even knowing it.  It might go to buy everything “on sale” because that’s just what you are supposed to do.  Or it might buy jewelry because it makes you feel good.  Where ever it goes, there’s some meaning or symbolism behind it.

Remember, money isn’t about money—it’s about our sense of worth.  What we spend it on is reflective of how we see ourselves and our world.  It reflects our values, passions and dreams.

I think we can learn a lot about people by looking at different aspects of their lives.  Think about it: Look in someone’s refrigerator, what does it tell you?  Lots of weird sauces, or is there just a six pack and a cold pizza?  Reflective, right?  Money is the same way.  So, spend some time noticing what your money is telling you.  Where do you spend it?  What do you do with it?  Where do you keep it? How do those actions sometimes reflect things you hadn’t realized before?  You can learn a lot. Just follow the money.

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Want to chat about what your money might be trying to tell you? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.