Money Workshop transformations - Positive changes

One of the most gratifying parts of offering spaces to explore one's relationship with money, towards the closing of a workshop, for me, is seeing the glow and palpable relief on participant's faces and the sense of expansion and new possibilities felt after having shifted some money stories. There is nothing like hearing real life feedback after - this is the icing on the cake! After a recent money workshop specifically facilitated for childless women, organised by me and facilitated by Tim Malnick, here is some feedback about positive changes since the workshop that we received from Ali, published in its entirety with her permission below:

"At the workshop, you asked us to let you know of any changes we'd seen since the money workshop and I've had a few so wanted to let you know...I'm less tight/ anxious at work - still could do with more loosing I'm sure but the tight control/ anxiety about needing money has lessened considerably which is great. I no longer feel I need to hold on so tight which makes it much easier.

I've negotiated 1 day off every fortnight so I have long weekends every other week - ok not a huge massive change (for now) but it's a good first step and my inner manipulator helped me to find the right path through negotiations which was enjoyable!

We bought a camper-van for £15k - it doesn't make economic sense to own one and friends told me I didn't need one and my husband questioned if we'd use it but I felt really definitely it was something I really wanted for freedom and fun as we rented one in NZ and enjoyed it so much. I'm deeply excited about adventures and our first trip in 2 weeks to Devon coast is my first long weekend from work!

The shadow work we did also made me realise that as well as money, babies are magical beings that people can project their hopes and fears onto. They can't talk back either (to begin with) and not having children I realised I was partly guilty of this also. So the workshop also helped me realise that having children (however wonderful) are not the only paths to purpose, meaning, fun, connection, belonging, legacy, nurture etc. And I can create that in a different way too. Again I'm not perfect but great step in a positive direction.

Thanks again for the great workshop,

Ali"

Book Review: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

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“Residential stability begets a kind of psychological stability, which allows people to invest in their home and social relationships”. – Matthew Desmond Matthew Desmond, an American sociologist wrote this brilliant book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City whilst living near the families whose lives he wrote about. The book also won the 2017 Pulitzer prize for General Non Fiction. This ethnographic study was an eye-opening read about how tragic our systems are in not giving a helping hand to the poor. From the stories I read, it felt like those being evicted had limited options legally or otherwise and were being ‘kicked when they were down’ – seemingly, everything can be profited from including homelessness. I really enjoyed the humane way in which Matthew Desmond described the Landlords & their own conflicts in choosing to evict their tenants, sometimes during the Christmas season in the freezing cold of Milwaukee.

In my review, I focus on scarcity and “material hardship” and what that does to the decisions, quality of life and stability that low-income families experience.

Some of my favourite lines from the book are below with my thoughts:

On material hardship

 “This – the loss of your possessions, job, home, and access to government aid-helps explain why eviction has such a pronounced effect on what social scientists call “material hardship,” a measure of the texture of scarcity. Evicted families continue to have higher levels of material hardship at least two years after the event.”

Stable housing or shelter is one of our basic human needs. In the stories, the renters could not afford to put their belongings in storage and so ended up losing their possessions too, once evicted. This affected their ability to attend interviews or look for ways to better their life. Sometimes, it was hard to get out of the trap of addiction or slip back into addiction due to sheer hardship and brutality of being homeless. I cannot really even imagine what this does to one’s state of mind.

On residential instability

  • “Residential stability begets a kind of psychological stability, which allows people to invest in their home and social relationships. It begets social stability, which increases the chances that children will excel and graduate. And it begets community stability, which encourages neighbors to form strong bonds and take care of their block.”
  • “Instability is not inherent to poverty. Poor families move so much because they are forced to.”
  • “It takes a good amount of money and time to establish a home. Eviction can erase all that.”

Housing authorities (in the US) count evictions and unpaid debt as strikes – so to read that those with the greatest need are systematically denied help is really sad. It just doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes, tenants were evicted for complaining there was no hot water. Poverty also drowns out your voice.

On opportunities for growth

America is supposed to be a place where you can better yourself, your family, and your community. But this is only possible if you have a stable home.”

“A good home can serve as the sturdiest of footholds. When people have a place to live, they become better parents, workers and citizens.”

This is such an important book which throws light on how the need for housing and the need for profit clash, resulting in much psychological devastation for the poor. While the broad consensus is that families should spend no more than 30 percent of their income on housing,  it is difficult for renting families to meet this goal with rising rents. In London, where I live, rents rise each year and certainly salaries do not keep pace with rising rents. Yet, the public housing situation in the UK seems more humane.

Empathy for the Needy

I recently came across The Core Values of César E. Chávez and this one caught my eye: A Preference to Help the Most Needy – A concerted effort to support programs that reach the most needy, the most dispossessed, the most forgotten people in society no matter how difficult the challenge that choice may bring.

The book enlightened me to the many privileges I take for granted such as knowing where I will sleep at night. I highly recommend reading it. Any book that awakens me towards empathy for the less privileged and gratitude for mine is a great book.

Further reading:

Evictionland - Curbed.com

America’s Insidious Eviction Problem - The Atlantic

Evicted - Matthew Desmond

Nonviolent Communication and Corporations - Medium

 

 

On fulfilment, integrity & money: An interview with Alan Seid (part 3)

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In this part of the interview, you’ll find out how Alan maximises fulfilment & integrity in his relationship with money, also using the lens of Nonviolent Communication. Here is part 3 of the interview; for part 1, click here and for part 2, click here How does nonviolent communication affect how you view consume and spend money?

That’s a good question. My 'off the top of my head' answer is that I’ve installed NVC as part of my internal operating system that it’s running in the background unconsciously now so. How I view, earn and spend money- I think I’ve already answered this; I see money as a strategy that contributes to needs or not.

Sometimes after spending on a certain thing, I may say, oh Jeez, was that the most life-serving way of spending that money? I always look at it through the lens of needs. I’m able to feel my feelings, or my own life connected mourning around it and if needed beneficial regret. If I spend money on something that I later regret, I harvest the learning from it. For example, with my children, I’ve given in a couple of times when I’m with them in the car, and they’re just like (makes baby noises). Fine, I give in- we go to the drive through sandwich place. Afterwards, I think why did I get non-organic white bread,  overly packaged food that is polluting.  Then, I slow down, I give myself empathy, then I give them empathy,  and then we do something that I’m not going to regret. That’s also modelling something more life serving for them.

You know the other way that it’s affected me that’s important is about eight or nine years ago I became a business coach. People started approaching me for business advice which was mind blowing to me because I didn’t see myself in that way. I’ve transformed how I see marketing. I see that there is life-disconnected, life-alienated marketing and there is life-serving, life-connected marketing. One of the ways I define marketing is that it’s an attempt to describe to people how their needs are likely to be fulfilled when they interact with whatever it is we are offering.

So regarding earning money, also having an NVC lens helps me connect with my audience at the level of deeper needs so that I can contribute to them

Do you have a particular Aha moment from a money workshop that you’d like to share?

I’m thinking of a close friend; I remember sitting at her kitchen table, and she was sharing in a matter of fact way some very explicit and personal sexual fantasies. I think everyone around the table was like wow! And she was just matter of fact- like, you know, yeah, I prefer almond butter rather than peanut butter on my sandwiches. But then when she started to talk about money she could barely speak, she was quivering and broke down crying.

The Aha moment was realising, wow! Money is such a loaded topic. A lot of people have much more ease talking about sex than talking about money. So yeah I mean I’ve had a lot of people have Aha moments about how they use money - to manipulate their children’s behaviour or how money was used in their lives as a reward or punishment which created a lot of pain around money and so on.

Where do you mainly see the dysfunction of money in our society?

I see it everywhere on every level - individuals, couples, families, absolutely everywhere.  It goes back to this question of who are we as human beings? What constitutes the good life? What is our shared destiny on this planet?  When you look at it at a government level, there are so many things we can change -systems and structures. Taxation is a very simple one where we can be taxing things that pollute, create illness and destroy the environment. We can use taxes to create incentives for things that are more life serving. So, taxation could be a way of stimulating or curtailing different things I can't find anywhere in society where there isn't dysfunction around money.

What are your thoughts on common themes you come across, like scarcity thinking or lack of financial literacy?

Probably the most common theme I come across is 'money is bad'.  Also, its opposite, 'money is good' like 'money is my God.'  I see people spending decades chasing money because they think it will bring them happiness and they have a big house full of things but there's a spiritual emptiness,  a lack of meaning and purpose. I think those are our scarcest resources in this day and age -meaning and purpose.

In some ways, money tends to highlight who we are already. A kind person will probably use money to help others.

If I believe money is the best thing in the world, I end up chasing, chasing, chasing money and missing out on life. If money is bad or evil,  and then I struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle because money wants nothing to do with me, money stays far away from me because I treat it like it's evil. I have a very close friend who used to say to me,' money isn't important so I don't think about it.' And when we checked in with each other, he would share 'oh I'm so stressed out, because I don't know how I'm going to pay rent next month,  I'm thinking of moving to another city because there's more work,'  and he didn't notice that money was running his life.

Yes, because money is a great recipient of all our unconscious projections because it's so complex like you said and it is so deep that it is easy to put all the stuff that we don’t like on to money.

Yes.

This is the last question Alan, in terms of your money related courses, what would you like people to know?

In terms of my money related courses,  I would like people to know, I will be launching the very first version of a brand new program called 'The Compass' later this year.

It will be the most comprehensive program that is based on twenty-five plus years of research into best practices so it's really a form of cross training for change agents, for people who want to leave the world a better place than they found it, and who are also devoted to their personal growth and development. There are eight curriculum areas, the eight directions of the compass and one of those happen to be the South, which is focused on money. Best to also head over to my website and check out the free resources.

Well, thank you so much, Alan. Is there anything that you would have liked me to ask you that I missed?

No. One thing I will add is that people misquote the Christian scriptures when they when they say 'money is the root of all evil. ' It is 'the love of money is the root of all evil.' I'm pretty sure that what it's referring to is an obsession over money. I mean, when I'm infatuated with money, that's the root of all evil. So that's one of the things that I'm pondering these days.

Thank you so much, Alan. I really appreciate your time. Fifty-five minutes and very, very precious.

Yeah, it was a pleasure and an honour. I appreciate it.

PS: I have no arrangements for money in exchange for any recommendations I make on my blog; I really only want to recommend people whom I believe in.

 

NVC, money and Kirsten Kristensen's journey with money (part 2)

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In this interview, you’ll find out how Kirsten overcame some old conditioning around money, letting go of old beliefs that were no longer serving her and embracing an abundant, needs-based relationship with money. Here is part 2 of the interview; for part 1, click here

How does NVC affect how you view, consume, earn and spend money?

I have needs, and everybody has needs. It is okay to have needs and to ask for something to at met. For me, I think this perspective opened up allowing myself to ask for more for myself; this was a struggle for me earlier- I came from a poor background and didn’t think I could.

I find myself examining the price of items, comparing prices and celebrating being able to buy it anyway. It doesn’t make a difference if the price is £100 or £200 as I can afford it. I celebrate that I can afford it and give myself self-empathy in allowing myself to ask for the things that I would like.

I was politically active when young; I already had a strong desire in wanting a world where resources were shared more easily.  But, NVC helped me talk about it in ways that were less judgemental towards other people.

I think NVC helped me learn to stay connected with other’s needs and to have more peace in me about the world is as it is. And yet, while being peaceful, knowing too that I want much change.  Me with the world so that I’m not fighting with the world.

So my understanding is that NVC helped you to separate fairness from money, to learn to ask for your beautiful needs to be met and to consider your needs as important too, as much as those of others. Earlier, it was a focus on giving rather than also receiving. Also, you had some values before discovering NVC that already affected how you spent, earned and consumed but with NVC you relate better to people because you are mindful, connected to what is important to you and not using alienating language. You also include other's needs when you discuss what you want.

Yes, you make it sound very beautiful.

Thank you! You said you went on a long journey from scarcity to abundance; I am curious about that.  What were the forms of your scarcity and abundance thinking and did you start shifting it?

You may have seen the videos from Bristol where I talk about it.  I give this example of coming into the here and now. This question of do I have enough right now, not for the next second or the past second but this second. The more I practice being able to enter the here, and now, the more I realise that all my needs are met in the moment - almost all of them. I think this is mostly thanks to NVC and the spiritual practice that I have.

It seems to be a common pattern to feel some discomfort in asking for money. Did you notice any shame in asking for money too?

I think I still have shame in asking for money in some areas and when it comes to workshops and the work I do. I mainly had this limited belief that I needed to produce something special so I started very slow and quiet.  My first workshops were offered at a very low price, and I was very conscious whenever I wanted to raise the price for my workshops or my individual sessions then if I asked for more say $125 instead of $100, I felt stressed. I had to be good for $125 as I know how to deliver value for $100.  I was giving myself the space to stay with the low price until I felt comfortable.  Not trying to stress myself, to believe that I was worth $200, or put too much pressure on myself.

Sometimes, when working on a piece of training for a company, for example, I tried to get to the price that I knew was the market price which was uncomfortable.  I felt so bad, so much stress and insecurity- thoughts like ‘how will I make this customer satisfied enough for this price?, etc’  Tying up the money flow very closely to what I was doing was very limiting; it was more the stress of linking money to what I was offering, this sense of fairness with money ( that I worked on), that created the shame.

I actually think the shame is serving me, the shame is calling my attention to self-reflection and humility.  If we look at shame as a servant then it’s a different thing to feel shame. I still come into situations where I feel totally feel ashamed of something.  It’s not over but my relationship with shame is changing to be easier

Shame is so handicapping; however well my workshop runs or not it’s also a place for humility.  I’m not God and I am not the only factor that decides whether the workshop runs well or not.  I can bring my piece of the puzzle and the participant brings their piece of the puzzle and we don’t know what the picture of the puzzle would be.  To think that I can be so good to make any workshop run well is kind of leaving the human sphere.  I think that shame is calling me to understand my humanness.

Complete the sentence:  Money is….

Money is energy. It’s energy that is easy to exchange for all kinds of things. It’s an energy currency that works throughout the world. You can buy electricity, car, therapy sessions, most things with it.

Could you say more about your own inner journey towards an abundant mindset?

You can call that a gratitude practice which is probably the most important practice if I want to change anything in my life.  Help myself be happier with what I have.

Gratitude practice that Marshall has described for us is the most powerful practice to transform feelings of scarcity. What I do is sit down every day and take the time to remember something that happened that met my need and allow my feelings from that met need to vibrate in me.

I heard Marshall numerous times in his workshops recommending people to make a gratitude book; I think it took me 6 years to actually start doing that and I found it incredibly helpful. There was also a lot of mourning to do, things I felt sad about and had to process. I also made space for this but gradually, I had more entries in my gratitude journal than my mourning journal.

Notes:

  1. "Mourning in NVC is the process of fully connecting with unmet needs and feelings which are generated when we have been less than perfect. It is an experience of regret, but regret that helps us learn from what we have done without blaming or hating ourselves." - Nonviolent Communication - A Language of Life, 2nd ed., p 133, Marshall B. Rosenberg

Other resources: 

  1. Kirsten's video on Youtube: NVC and Abundance

  2. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach