Research Paper By Marsha Sanders
(Business Coaching, UNITED STATES)
Money is the most universally motivating, mischievous, miraculous, maligned, and misunderstood part of contemporary life. Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money
Statement of purpose
Clients who come to coaching during periods of transition, especially career transition, may have underlying beliefs about money that limit their perceived options, which in turn may limit their possibilities for a future filled with financial abundance, and for which they have real passion. It is the purpose of this paper to explore underlying beliefs around money, and the possibility of moving clients, when appropriate, from the traditional views of money to alternate views of abundance and prosperity.
Underlying beliefs can be powerful inhibitors. They can prevent people from fulfilling commitments, or even trying to make commitments. They can sabotage positive action in working towards goals. At a deeper level, they may influence a client to avoid working toward their dreams by making decisions based on subconscious fears and doubts. Many underlying beliefs (UBs) come from messages received from childhood authority figures: parents, grandparents, teachers, and/or religious leaders. Even as adults, we can internalize pervasive cultural themes from popular culture, which may drive our behavior as underlying beliefs.
Cultural themes around money and success are some of the most powerful messages we internalize throughout our lives. These may lead to underlying beliefs about money that remain unexamined until a person is in a financial crisis or exploring a career transition. It is my hypothesis that these underlying beliefs around money limit potential career options and may block coaching clients from taking action toward satisfying careers, and that many coaching tools can help clients explore other beliefs that may be more aligned with their values.
Sources of beliefs about money
Family and Popular Cultural Beliefs
Messages about money are passed down from generation to generation, worn and chipped like the family dishes. Suzy Orman, The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom
Sue Orman, author of a number of best selling personal finance books, and star of a popular financial planning television show, advises people that their childhood memories of money have a powerful influence on their adult success in personal financial management She provides readers with exercises to explore their childhood memories about money in an effort to release stuck patterns. She believes that releasing stuck patterns will help people achieve financial freedom.
“The road to financial freedom begins not in a bank or even in a financial planner’s office, but in your head. It begins with your thoughts……And those thoughts , more often than not, stem from our seemingly forgotten past with money. I’ll go so far as to say that in my experience, most people’s biggest problems in life—even those that appear on the surface not to be money related – are directly connected with early, formative experiences with money.”
One of the fundamental messages in the American marketing machine is that wealth and happiness are synonyms.” You want happiness, you have to have wealth and you have to buy stuff, lots of stuff. From Tom Shadyac’s documentary, “I AM”
How many television episodes, movies, books, advertisements, and popular songs are scripted around the role of money in making people feel successful, attractive, powerful, and whole. The message is that having money brings happiness, great relationships, and peace of mind.
In an original and insightful book about money culture, Lynne Twist explores popular beliefs about money in The Soul of Money, which perpetuate a culture of fear, greed and acceptance of the status quo. She speaks about “Toxic Myths,” which are – in coaching terms – what we refer to as underlying beliefs. Stating, “Myths and superstitions have power over us only to the extent that we believe them, but when we believe, we live completely under their spell and in that fiction,” she could easily be speaking about Underlying Beliefs. The following is her description of the three toxic money myths:
Toxic Myth #1: There’s not enough
This belief is that there are way too many people, and not everyone can make it. “If there’s not enough for everyone, then taking care of yourself and your own, even at other’s expense, seems unfortunate, but unavoidable and somehow valid.”
Toxic Myth #2: More is better
The logical response to the fear that there’s not enough, is that more is better drives a competitive culture of accumulation, acquisition, and greed that only heightens fears and quickens the pace of the race.”
Toxic Myth #3: That’s just the way it is
This states that there is a resignation about the lack of money, and “that is just the way it is” becomes an excuse for holding back from making commitments and contributing. It justifies the greed, prejudice, and inaction that scarcity fosters in our relationship with money and the rest of the human race.
In his anthropological research on indigenous cultures, Peter Farb found a common strand about money in very diverse cultures. This common belief is very simple: the idea of the accumulation of private property beyond your needs was considered a mental illness!
This idea is also noted in Tom Shadyac’s documentary,1 AM. There is one fundamental law in nature that all of nature obeys and mankind breaks every day. This is a law that has evolved over billions of years. The law is this. Nothing in nature takes more than it needs. If something does, it becomes subject to this law and it dies off. An ocean, the rain forest, the human body – are all cooperatives. A redwood tree does not take all of the soils nutrients, just what it needs to grow.” (Tom Shadyac, in I AM)
Success, including the creation of wealth, has always been considered to be a process that requires hard work, and it is often considered at the expense of others. We need a more spiritual approach to success and to affluence, which is the abundant flow of all good things to you. Deepok Chopra
In many writings about creating wealth, the Law of Giving and Receiving is a key concept, “Helping others make money and helping other people to fulfill their desires is a sure way to ensure you’ll make money for yourself as well as more easily fulfill your own dreams.” (Deepok Chopra, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success)
Even Suzy Orman, the popular financial guru, speaks about money in spiritual terms. She talks about the Dharma of Money, which is the “right action” of money – we experience prosperity and true financial freedom, when our actions with respect to money are Dharmic, or righteous, actions—actions of generosity, actions of offerings. Make contributions each month even if you think you can’t afford to.
The world of money – numbers, stock market, interest rates and credit cards – seems on the surface to be the opposite of the world of spirituality or seeking meaningful answers to the big questions in life. But Suzy Orman states these worlds must flow in and out of each other because it takes both money and spiritual understanding to sustain us.
Harder still it has proved to rule the dragon Money… A whole generation adopted false principles, and went to their graves in the belief they were enriching the country they were impoverishing. Ralpho Waldo Emerson
A Coaching Perspective on Money
Anywhere there is a positive difference to be made, there is money to be made.
As long as you see money as a scarce resource, you will continually inconvenience yourself in order to get it. As soon as you have made yourself the scarce resource, the money will inconvenience itself to get you. Michael Neill, Supercoach
Michael Neill, in his best-selling book, Supercoach, sets out four somewhat radical rules regarding financial well-being:
He states that in a quest for wealth, people should work on themselves first – energy, skills, and well-being. As people become more and more skilled, and happier and happier, clients will be drawn to them and want to work with them.
One of Michael Neill’s strongest points is that the best attitude toward money is to not need it He also states that when you act out of a sense of desperation- or neediness – they have to settle for whatever is on offer. There is a sense of urgency that shifts the negotiation to the other person’s favor. However when you act as though you don’t need the money, you move forward with a sense of ease and well-being. “It is easy to stick with the bottom line because you always have your alternative -getting on with your wonderful life and offering your creativity and skills at difference making and value creation to any of the hundreds, thousands, and sometimes millions of people who would benefit from them.”
When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands.
What you appreciate, appreciates. Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money
Coaching can help clients become aware of their underlying beliefs in general, and specifically about money, by using modules to create awareness, identify underlying beliefs, and reframe perspectives, and also use power tools such as commitment versus trying, and action versus delay. Bringing the client to the point of awareness about how underlying beliefs influence their fears, doubts, and limit their choices is very liberating. At this point in the coaching process, the coach can introduce different perspectives on money and abundance, and suggest readings for further exploration. This will broaden the client’s
knowledge base and help them develop a more appropriate belief system aligned with their values.
Given the abundance of new thinking about money—from new documentaries, popular financial authors, spiritual and even coaching perspectives—along with powerful tools available to certified coaches, it is the conclusion of this author that coaching can move clients, as appropriate, to an altemative, and perhaps healthier, underlying belief about money.
Chopra, Deepak. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A practical guide to the fulfillment of your dreams. Amber-Allen Publishing, 1994
Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful lessons in personal change. Free Press. 1998, 2004
Farb, Peter. Man’s Rise to Civilization: the Cultural Ascent of the Indians of North America. Penguin Books. 1991
Hay, Louis. You Can Heal Your Life. Hay House, Inc. 1999
Houston, Jean. Webinar series, “Awakening to your life’s purpose.” Summer 2012 International Coaching Academy modules and power tools
Neill, Michael. Supercoach: 10 Secrets to Transform Anyone’s Life. Hay House, Inc. 2009
Orman, Suzy. The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and spiritual steps so you can stop worrying. Three Rivers Press, 1997, 2012
Twist, Lynne, The Soul of Money. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2003
Appendix: Notes from The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom by Suzy Orman
The first three steps in this book seem particularly relevant to addressing underlying beliefs about money, and are summarized below.
To master your money requires first mastering your fears. There is no shortage of ways your fears are holding you back from achieving financial security. Suzy Orman was among the first people, in 1997, to suggest that emotions play a key role in how we handle money. Now there are many behavioral economists showing how emotions – many of them fear driven- cause us to make bad financial decisions.
Most of us already know at least some of the steps we could take to free ourselves from money anxieties – we could manage our debt better, arrange for our children’s education, …protect what we have saved. Yet most of snare paralyzed, too, when it comes to actually taking these steps, however wise they seem, however much we think we really want to take control.”
Set your goals for financial freedom. Write them down.
Step 1: Seeing how your past holds the keys to your financial future.
Most people’s biggest problems in life—even those that appear on the surface not to be money related—are directly connected with their early, formative experiences with money. Money Messages
Connect the do. exercise. Look into your childhood and remember everything you can about money, the wonderful things it did and the ways in which it scared you.
Creates list of your deep money memories – from age 3 to 18. Remember every detail you can – smells, sights, words.
We are powerless as children, and money looms powerfully. Yet as adults we do not claim of power over money until we look it in the eye, face our fears, and take that power back.
Step 2 – Facing your fears and creating new truths
“What prevents you from dealing with your money is not lack of time, but your fear of money….The trouble with fears is that when we keep them inside and refuse to deal with them, they grow, like weeks left alone in a garden. Take the fear of not having enough to cover the bills this month and let it wander around by itself, unchecked. Where will it go? It will become the fear of not having enough in general…. stretch that out and there is the fear of having nothing…..being worthless, being nothing.” When you hold things in this way, you give them power. The may to control the fear, is instead is to voice it
What is it you are afraid of? List all of your fears around money, such as, “I am afraid my wife will make more money than me.” “I am afraid I cannot support my family.” “If something goes wrong at work, what other job could I get” “I keep having to use my credit card just to cover bills each month”
Now take your list of fears, and your list of memories about money and see if there is an obvious connection. Connect the dots.
“We have to retrain our minds away from thinking that we can’t control money, that we don’t deserve to do well, that not enough money is going to come in, that we don’t have enough now, that we won’t have enough tomorrow.”
The power of positive thinking. Come up with a financial mantra.
Create a positive, empowering message for yourself and instill it in your mind. Make it short and memorable. “I have more money than I will ever need, so I can do good things with it for the world.” Or, “I always have plenty of money for my needs, the needs of my family, and my role in the world.” Or, “I have as much money as I need, for everything I want and need, forever.”
Your new truth is bigger than your fears, bigger than your worries about the future.
Step 3 – Being Honest with yourself
Examine the flow of your money. Where does all of it come from, and where does all of it go?