First of two disclaimers: first of all, it’s not easy to solve anything that concerns life. We have managed to stay alive and we should applaud ourselves (no, really!) for getting this far, but to shed old survival mechanisms and stigma’s that we needed to make these survival mechanisms work is hard work. It’s like meditating: you’re never done meditating and freeing yourself from all the monkey has to say. You practice and practice and practice and then, you’ll practice some more. So in this blog are only some pointers of how I try (dis)solve these stigma’s or at least the questions I ask myself to loosen the grip of these stigma’s on my life.
Second of all, you might wonder, why need stigma’s solving? Well, stigma’s are limiting us in our freedom to form work, life, anything to our own beliefs and convictions. But to get rid of these sigma’s is a search: it’s often hard to change these stigma’s, because they are stuck in our patterns of survival. Sometimes they help: when we think ‘having a limited amount of money to spend is a bad thing’, it propels us into working longer hours, finding a better job or at least finding a way to make more money.
The problem however arises if we don’t know when enough is enough. If the stigma stays true no matter what we do, when making money is the sole objective of our life, we will never obtain a sense of satisfaction, we will never be free. We will be enslaved forever. But if that gets you off, well, please remain in that ever lasting money making scheme, because not everybody ticks the same way and if stigma’s are not stigma’s but helping convictions that make you happy, by all means, stick to it.
No more ratrace
For me however, money has always been a tricky subject, because I was in the position to go into the ratrace (and the use of this word will tell you a lot of how I feel about the everyday business life) and make more and more money. I did for a while, I flew across the globe to visit events and even after I started my own business, I went into the corporate world of hassling and hustling.
My body started to break down first, as bodies know a lot of things that our minds do not. I started to get tired, I had a financial slow year, I yearned for a transition into a passive income. The promise sounded great: no work, only income. It does, doesn’t it? But of course, it doesn’t work that way: it is a lot of work, a lot of investments of time and therefore, money. Which is fine, because I love sharing my knowledge and making courses. But then the next stigma popped up: if you’re doing work, but you’re not an instant success (aka not make money right that instant) you’re not doing it right, you’re doing it wrong and you’re doomed. Forever.
So I went back to working and getting paid by the hour. And that’s satisfying if you place that alongside the stigma’s: work is money, money is good, good makes happy. So, life was good again. Until it wasn’t.
I’m not saying I’m not grateful
Of course, I am very blessed with the work I get, the clients that choose me (or are they blessed to have me?!), the money that is coming in each month, the relative freedom I have in my life. In a general sense, I cannot complain. But it’s not enough to make me happy, which of course is a (very real) first world problem.
So I started experimenting with intuitive productivity, which is a way of prioritizing work based on what suits me best right now, instead of just working down my to-do-list like a brainless computer. Some people have suggested that if they’d do that, they will never get anything done. I object of course, because, yes, if we are overloaded with boring things and we have a little time to do our own thing and not push ourselves to get things done, we might end up sleeping in bed.
Sure, if you’re tired, you’ll sleep
But if you truly listen to your heart, you might see that you are not tired, you just ask too much of yourself. If you would just start with 10 minutes each day, just 10 minutes to do something you truly, madly, deeply loved and not set any goal but to work for those 10 minutes, you’ll see that in that kind of relaxation the true sense of purpose will arise. If it doesn’t arise, you might have to wonder if the chosen ‘passion’ is really a passion or purpose at all.
That immense yearning to do what your purpose is, is for example what happened to a work friend of mine: we met this Friday to talk about next year. We discussed intuitive productivity and she said: but if I do that, if I give in, I might be so deep into my research, I will never get out. I asked: what is so bad about that? And she replied: in that time, I am not making money! So she did it once, became afraid of her unsolicited passion and the energy that comes with that, and decided it wasn’t for her.
It does sound a bit crazy
Of course, money is a bare necessity, but we forget sometimes that investing in something makes the probability of making money in the future bigger. And making a living (because isn’t that what we’re all after?!) from something you truly, madly, deeply love. But because we’re not an instant success, making money NOW, earning our place in this kapitalist society all the f*cking time, we shy away from our passions, our purpose. If you look at it from this point of view: it sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it?
Also, I’ve picked up somewhere that work is supposed to be hard, not fun at all, and only a lucky few come by with that what they truly love. And if you don’t make money with that one thing you really love, then that’s on you. Well, it might be a little bit on you, you could move away from the thing that you are not really fond of and go towards things you love. But I also realized that I could take that energy that I have when I make art, into my daily work as a copywriter, while not stepping into the ratrace. The circumstances are the same, it’s just my feeling towards it can change. It doesn’t mean however that I will try to move towards making art for a living. And that’s all I want: to live and feel joy while doing it.
RTFM – how to dissolve stigma’s
So how to dissolve these stigma’s. Here’s a manual:
- Sit down, really sit down. Take your time to sit down. Feel your butt on the chair, the arms on your desk, connect to your breath, how is it behaving? Are you breathing fast or slow? And what is your monkey-mind making up this time? Can you really observe it? And just take a few deep, deep breaths;
- Take a pen and paper. Write down these two words: work and money. And then, without thinking too much, start writing down sentences, words, convictions you have around these words. Make sure you don’t slow down, just write, write, write;
- After a minute or 10 stop and take a look. What sparks joy for you? Color them with lovely colors you like or circle them. Really feel, by the way, with your gut, not with your head. What sparks joy? What gives you tingles? Which ones make you silently, happily cry?
- And then: what doesn’t spark joy? What makes you feel down? What do you feel is not helping you any longer? What is shit? What makes you silently, unhappily vomit? Make a list of that.
- If you make the list, try to put something positive opposite to it. For example: I hate money. Really, I do and sometimes I don’t. What can I put opposite that doesn’t oppose my hippie convictions that we should all have equal opportunities and money and power is not, I repeat, is not the end game, but what does me help earn enough money to make a comfortable living? So for me it is: I’m making a comfortable living and the money serves that comfortable life. So: I hate money – Money serves my comfortable lifestyle. Money serves, it doesn’t make or break my happiness.
- Write those happy convictions down on a happy piece of paper and hang it somewhere where you can see it. I won’t ask you to repeat it a 108 times, but if that helps you to internalize this new conviction, by all means, do.
- Try to do that for other convictions as well if you want!
Does this mean that you will magically never pay any thought to the negative stigma (which stigma’s always are)? No. Will you instantly make the money you need to make your comfortable lifestyle possible? Probably not. Will you ever make the money you’ll want? Probably yes, but if you don’t, maybe there are other lessons to be learned. Is it your fault if you’re not making enough money? Hell no. You can only do what you can do and that is the end of that discussion.