What does wealth mean to you? Are you wealthy if you have a lof of money? If you can buy everything this modern world has to offer? To me, wealth does not necessarily have to do with money. In my opinion, you’re wealthy if you can afford to have all the things you want. And I consider myself to be extremely wealthy.
I’m a waitress who works not only part-time but is also on holidays nearly half of the year. How does this work? I get this question so often, I decided to write a post about it. Don’t expect a practical answer with a magic formula which will instantly fulfill all your wishes. If you’re looking for the easy way, this is not your post.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a way to not only fulfill all your wishes and healing your soul at the same time, keep on reading. Just like any other problem in this world, there’s a spiritual solution. And just like any spiritual solution, the results are not instant and they require effort and time for healing. But just like any other spiritual result, it will exceed your expectations and you’ll gain so much more than just your material wishes.
In this post, I’ll describe how my relationship with money has developed over the years. My story might be unique, but the principles behind it work just as well for me as they do for you.
You’re probably not surprised if I tell you my relationship with money all started with the financial situation in my childhood. Even though my parents were highly educated, we had some financial struggles, due to several reasons. I wouldn’t say we were poor, but we simply didn’t fit into the picture of the perfect modern western family.
As a kid I received “a heart full of love” when presenting my mum with good grades at the end of the year and oftentimes an empty shoe for Saint Nicholas. And even though I never suffered from hunger, I did have to fill my belly with potatoes and salt on rare occasions.
I’ve long pitied myself for growing up under these conditions and wished I wouldn’t feel the need to constantly think of my finances. When I started to be financially independent, my relationship with money was terrible. I was afraid of spending every single cent. I was terrified I would have some genetic predisposition for not being able to handle money which I tried to suppress by keeping control.
For years, I controlled all of my expenditures and restricted myself from buying anything that was not necessary. Fortunately, I was saved from myself and my fears when I made a wise decision in my early twenties. Due to a broken heart, I turned myself to the spiritual path. I decided to not only heal my broken heart, but also my broken relationship with money.
I started to understand how constant thinking of the lack of money makes you not only lack the money, but also the joy money can actually bring. Instead of enjoying the benefits of money, it only made me nervous and anxious.
Slowly, I started to relax a bit. I started to really feel inside what matters to me and what doesn’t. And guess what? It turned out little actually really mattered to me. The fact that I had grown up with so little, made me feel satisfied with the basics: food, shelter, love and nature. Combined with spirituality I started to transform my “bad luck” into a situation that was worth so much more than anything money could buy. My “underprivileged” position had turned out to be a blessing, after mastering the art of seeing the positive in all of life’s challenges. And financial security was not my only blessing…
Obviously, one of my first blessings was a natural tendency to minimalism. My lack of money and fear of spending it naturally made me feel satisfied with the basics. The way I was raised also helped me to reduce my needs to a minimum. I simply didn’t get used to some luxury items and expensive activities. Whenever we had a family activity, we would go out in nature and hike in the forests. Now, I am so grateful for the fact that we were almost “forced” to go out in nature, as restaurants, theme parks and cinema simply did not fit in the budget. Instead of getting used to these kind of activities, I really grew fond of nature over the years. Now going out in nature is my very favourite activity and thank God it’s widely available and all for free.
I generally developed tendencies and preferences which are not particularly in line with the social norms of the consumer society. My financial “misfortune” somehow made me lose the connection to all those fancy, status-enhancing, super modern and life-improving gadgets and activities everyone else is raving about.
Not only did I not need any of these things as I was not used to have them, I even developed an aversion against them, such as eating out in restaurants. The idea of going to a crowded place, order food from a limited menu, not knowing how it has been prepared exactly, having to wait for the busy waiter and not being able to just lay back and laugh out loud without having the feeling I’m disturbing other people (believe me, I’m a loud person and I laugh a lot!) doesn’t particularly appeal to me. And on top of all: I need to pay horrendous prices for all this discomfort. No way!
I seriously enjoy my minimalist lifestyle. Not even one second does it cross my mind I could miss out on something by not actively participating in the consumer society. I don’t have a fancy apartment (in fact I only have a room and share the apartment with others), nor do I have a car (neither a drivers’ license) and I don’t even have a “serious” job (though I do have a masters degree which I don’t use), but all of these things couldn’t make me unhappy even one second. I have my freedom, loads of time for nature and travelling, loved ones and a healthy body. Cliché as it sounds, but that’s actually all I need.
Swimming against the stream is not easy, especially when you’re young. Particularly as a teenager and young adolescent my non-conforming lifestyle brought about some resistance and ridicule.
In most cases the ridicule was harmless and very subtle. But still, as a young insecure teenager I was very susceptible to the looks and feel people gave me. I knew that I didn’t have the right clothing (I was once asked whether I was a lesbian, because I obviously didn’t try to entice the opposite sex with my clothing), didn’t have the right phone (after my first phone (an Iphone 4) I never again bought a phone from any of the “big” brands) and seemed to be attending the wrong parties (I don’t like electronic music and therefore didn’t go to the fancy and expensive parties but rather went to the free latin, 80’s, rock etc. parties.)
In some cases the ridicule was more overt. I used to smoke up until three years ago. I started rolling my own cigarettes while I was living in Berlin, somewhere around 2002. At this time Berlin was actually the perfect place for me. The majority was poor and as far as I can remember this was the only place where being poor was actually “in” (Even the major stated in 2003: Berlin is poor but sexy!). Rich people were frowned upon and I really felt at home and for once in my life didn’t feel poor, but just normal.
I didn’t realize that the habit of rolling tobacco was strange until I moved to Amsterdam, the hipster-heaven, in 2010. After having smoked tobacco for nearly a decade without a problem I suddenly found myself frequently in situations where people seemed to be disgusted by it. On more than one occasion people asked me why I rolled my cigarettes, after all I wasn’t a sailor or construction worker? Others again told me (without me ever asking them or showing interest in their opinion) that they would never date a woman who rolls her own cigarettes, because it’s not “ladylike”.
Even though I was already older (and wiser) by this time, these kinds of comments occasionally did shake me up emotionally. And thank God they did. These kind of remarks taught me to accept myself and the choices I made in life. The comments made me reconsider my choices and I actually only came to one conclusion: I had consciously chosen to do the things I did and they were part of who I am. Just because some people didn’t consider me to be classy or ladylike, I wasn’t going to give up on me or my lifestyle. The only person who had to accept me, was myself. And that’s exactly what I did.
My self-acceptance led me to another path: the path to my authentic self. From the moment that I had accepted that I had different needs and desires, I was ready to explore what I really wanted and valued in life. I was ready to explore my true authentic self. Neither my fear of losing control, nor the need for (superficial) social acceptance could keep me from finding out my true needs.
I remember very well one day when a friend of mine lost her nerves when we were, once again, sitting in the forest. She desperately wanted me to go to a restaurant or to the cinema with her, but I simply refused. To me, the idea of going there neither sounded very appealing nor did I want to spend money for those kinds of things. I was happy in the forest, why should I change anything?
At that moment I realized for the first time that my choice was not based on pure stinginess, but actually a part of me. I told her that if she wanted to have friends to go to a restaurant she simply had to pick other friends. This was who I am and she was either going to take or it or she was going to leave it. She took it and never asked me again to go to a restaurant or cinema.
Finding out who I really am, was a constant evaluation of what the real me wants versus what society wants and another evaluation of what the real me wants versus what the trauma-ridden ego fears. I would be lying if I’d say that I know for 100% what I want and which voice is speaking, but I for sure get better at it every day. Getting to know your authentic self is a life-long journey, but believe me, every single step of it is worth it.
The most rewarding gift I have been blessed with on the quest to my authentic Self has been (financial) freedom. From all I have written above, I guess you get the picture: I spend very little. And not necessarily because I am greedy (though that’s how it started), but because I’m sincerely happy with less. I know which things in my life bring temporary and superficial happiness and which things bring lasting and profound happiness. Be prepared for another cliché: Those things are often for free.
My minimalist tendencies do not only make me enjoy financial freedom, but have brought about many other forms of freedom, such as mental freedom. I don’t suffer from compulsive overconsumption in order to fill the void in my soul. I don’t have to buy expensive clothes to impress anyone or buy myself innumerable gifts in order to soothe my hurt inner child. I have peace of mind with what is, because I have peace with myself. I’m mentally not tied to the consumer society which I consider to be a great gift in the form of freedom.
Furthermore, I enjoy the freedom of having time. I don’t have to work as much in order to meet my needs and can fill this time with things I enjoy doing, such as reading, meditating, doing yoga, going out in nature, cooking, meeting up with friends and travelling. And believe me, I can’t remember the last time I felt bored. No need for entertainment as I can perfectly entertain myself 😉
My job allows me the freedom of movement, as I work for an agency without a fixed contract. For some people, not having a stable income makes them nervous. I get nervous of the idea of being bound to a job, not being able to plan my own working days and most of all being able to plan when to go away.
All this freedom is worth so much more to me than any luxury item or money in the world. Obviously, I need some money and I’m the last person to say that money is bad. But I’m just so grateful to have grown up with less money and to have learned how to value the small and free things in life so I can use the little money I have for the things that really matter.
This is my own, personal path and how I’ve developed my relationship to money. In your case it might be completely different. So, how does my story help you to get a better relationship with your money?
In my story there are some components of universal laws, which apply to everyone.
1. Confront your fears and learn how to deal with them.
2. Get to know your authentic self and what you really want and need.
In order to get the money flowing naturally, you need to dig deep inside and do some soul searching. If I hadn’t confronted my fears, I’d still be clinging to my money, disabling the natural flow of money with my tight grip. And if I hadn’t gotten to know my own true self, I would either buy stuff I didn’t need or I’d still feel shame for not having the stuff everyone else has. I wouldn’t feel the inner freedom and peace of mind I feel now.
But what if my authentic self really wants a horse or a yacht? Maybe my authentic self has expensive desires…
That’s perfectly possible. And here is where it starts to get really interesting: once you’re freed from fear and limiting beliefs, the universe will deliver everything your inner being really yearns for. All you need to do is applying one more “rule” to the game:
3. Surrender and trust in the universe.
When your fears are not in your way anymore and you really know what you want, all you need to do is lay back and trust in the universe. Eventually, we always receive the things we really want, as long as we don’t sabotage ourselves and we allow the good things to come by not focusing on the bad. That’s how the universe works (read more on The Art of Manifestation if you want to learn about the details). All you need to do is to be alignment with yourself, so the universal vibrations can flow through you easily. You’ll not only receive the things you really want, but will also enjoy the entire process even before your wish materializes into your world. Be prepared for a long journey, but trust me: you’ll really have it all and even more…