What if Money is Just Like Water?

Note: A few weeks ago, I wrote this article for Queercents. I liked it so much I wanted to publish it here as well. I’ve continued reading the book and am almost finished. I can say that it is an incredible book for taking a deep and hard look at your mental attitudes toward money. While I may be nearing the end of the book in terms of pages, the exploration of my attitudes and behaviors will continue. One of the most eye-opening books I’ve ever read about money and the idea of what really constitutes “enough”.

In my search for some nourishing reading in terms of money and finances, I was led to a book that has been on my list to read for ages, The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist. Many of my coaching colleagues have raved about it and I’ve read bits and pieces about it over the last few years. Yet, Watersomething called to me to pick it up and read it right now as I navigate the transition of job loss to self-employment and whatever incarnations my life takes in between. As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. This book is a great teacher so far and I’m only up to page 103.

The subtitle of the book is “Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life”. It is an intriguing title because I am in the middle of transforming my relationship with money and career as I have been working with my dear colleague and fellow Integrative Coach Rosemary Redmond. She has been leading me through the powerful 16 week Spiritual Divorce coaching program developed by our common teacher and mentor Debbie Ford. While originally developed to help couples through a divorce or breakup, this powerful process can help anyone heal and transform their relationship with anyone or anything. For me it is the “right thing at the right time” and I didn’t even know it when I started the program back in March. Who would’ve thought that as I shifted inside the world would line up to hand me situations like losing my day job to throw me forward with more velocity than I ever would’ve mustered on my own. (As a side note, I might add that one of Rosemary’s specialties is working with the LGBT community using the Spiritual Divorce work so if you want to use a breakup as a catalyst for something great in your life, she is the one to call.)

Back to the book…

The chapter I read with my morning coffee was entitled “Money Is Like Water”. In it Twist says:

“Money flows through all our lives, sometimes like a rushing river, and sometimes like a trickle. When it is flowing, it can purify, cleanse, create growth, and nourish. But when it is blocked or held too long, it can grow stagnant and toxic to those withholding or hoarding it.”

Just imagine in your own life – when you allow money to flow in and out of your life effortlessly, how does it feel? Empowering? Energizing? Don’t you just feel at ease with it all? Now, imagine when times are tight. You grab, hoard, and hold onto any penny you can. It isn’t just frugality or getting the most value for your buck but an outright frantic attack of scarcity mentality. How does that feel? Toxic? Scary? Don’t you just feel the struggle of it all? Sometimes this scarcity binge happens even when you have plenty of money simply because you are afraid it won’t be “enough”.

When is what you have sufficient? That is the question of the ages. So far in the book she points toward the fact that anyone who has the mindset of sufficiency can feel like they have enough. This holds true for the folks in underdeveloped countries she has worked with who don’t even have enough food to eat. Yet, they feel blessed and like they have “enough”. It is possible for anyone at at any level of the financial spectrum to feel like they have “enough”. Yet, in our general frantic race for MORE (especially in the US culture), many people who have “more” and should feel very wealthy in fact end up feeling more fearful, hollow, and in a place of lack in terms of money than those much poorer on an economic scale. Why? Because no matter how much they have, they need to get more. It is like trying to fill a cup with a hole in the bottom. You may fill it part way with a rush of water, but eventually it will empty right back out again.

That brings me to a related, if somewhat odd billboard I saw on my drive home the other day. It said “If money is burning a hole in your pocket; the solution is not buying a new pair of pants.” I have no idea what it was advertising, but I thought it was interesting. If you just keep spending to the point of debt, the last thing that will solve the problem is simply buying more (a new pair of pants) because it is like that empty cup. You’ll simply end up buying lots and lots of new pants but never find a feeling of satiety.

I’ve got a way to go in the book yet and I’m sure I’ll return back to this topic with some more insights so stay tuned.

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