This empath's journal

Move forward, don’t shrink back into shame3 min read

I’m working on bettering my relationship with money. From an emotionally unavailable extended family, I learned that money equals love equals self-worth. How cliché is that? When they couldn’t put their emotions on the table, they put down money as a (poor) substitute and I picked up on that when you can’t or don’t want to get involved, throw money at it. I further refined that into how much money you’re given denotes how much they love you. Because if they loved you more, they’d put down more.

This eventually transferred to working and I internalised this idea that my self-worth, my value as a person, is defined by how much money life gives me, i.e. how much I make. And I took this and applied it to other people, valuing their importance to me via how much they made and how much they gave me. Something that I now realise was the attitude of a little shit, though I couldn’t have known any better because that’s what I learned.

So, today I’m aware of this influence behind the scenes, which is step one, though it’s still triggering for me. Having to choose between paying bills and eating food in the past has left a deep emotional imprint and I’ve been paying all bills on payday for years, as opposed to on their due dates. Why do you do that? I don’t trust that there will be enough in the account on the due date and that it’ll… what? Not be paid on time? Accrue late fees? Go into distraint? All of that has already happened to you. What’s left to be afraid of? You’ve been down that rabbit hole before and you’re still breathing.

Ok, so all of that is survivable and this is just a residual response. You can work with this, c’mon. Okay, so you don’t have enough revenue yet to be profitable, but you’re working. You’re showing up every day and working on what it is that you as a business and a brand are doing to contribute to the world. And every time you pay the bills and see that number diminish in the bank account you spiral into a panic, repeating “there’s no money” to yourself even when there still is money. Enough money, in fact, to get through the month. It’s that blind panic that’s your worst enemy right now.

Really, paying bills isn’t something you should be so afraid of. It means other businesses are getting paid for the valuable work they do for you, and it means they can pay their employees to do that work. It’s really an empowering thing, nothing to diminish you.

But… Yes, you’re feeling a little resentful because paying those bills is a stretch for you. That doesn’t mean that you should start reducing yourself, pulling your energy and attitude inwards like your shrinking. Instead, you need to root yourself firmly and start that spiral working outwards from your centre, expanding and sharing. Not contracting. And yes, I know it’s scary, outside of your comfort zone but it’s what you need to do if you’re going to grow. There is no place for shame, only vulnerability. Remember Brené Brown, only the woman in the arena counts, what the cheap seats say doesn’t matter.

This business is a wonderful opportunity for you to grow and become a better you. But that’ll never happen if you let fear rule you. Let fear stop you from getting into the arena. Let fear stop you from growing. This is under your control, you have agency here, this is your choice. And you must make this choice.

Because in the end, money is an extension of compassion and empathy, a way to have an impact on the world, and has nothing to do with your personal worth. And money isn’t something you need to be afraid of, it’s that thing that’s going to empower you to make a difference, in your own life, in the lives of others.

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