About the Author: Kerry Cudmore is a professional certified life and business coach, empowerment trainer, firewalking instructor, and author who has made a lifetime study of human expression. She creates and teaches methods that make complex concepts easy to understand and master so that clients and class participants can create joyful, prosperous, and fulfilling lives and businesses. She is founder of the Spiritual Finance Initiative, which is devoted to changing our individual and collective relationships with money.
Kerry used to have a terrible relationship with money. A disorganized wallet, piles of unopened bills, and daily calls from angry creditors were indications of just how bad it was. She decided to change things once and for all, redefining her relationship with money, and now helping others do the same in her Spiritual Finance class series. She has taught the class to hundreds of people since 2008, and now presents the basic Spiritual Finance philosophies in her new easy-to-digest bite of a book, “A New Relationship with Money”.
Click here to learn more about Kerry Cudmore and her work visit her website.
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When I teach people about changing their relationship with money, I always begin the same way: I ask them to describe money. In simple terms, and using whatever words and phrases come to mind immediately, I ask them to describe money and how they feel about it. They share things like, “It doesn’t grow on trees,” “I don’t like it,” “Here one day, gone the next,” or even “I hate money.” They add descriptors such as stress, worry, fear, not enough, anxiety, conflict, dirty, unattainable, unpredictable, untrustworthy, and mysterious. There is also a smattering of responses like, “It’s a resource” and “It helps me do what I need to do,” and words like necessity, fun (when you have it), and power. Many relate the belief that money is the root of all evil.
At this point I typically notice that the atmosphere in the room feels charged and nervous. The descriptions require effort and some degree of struggle and discomfort. I observe that my own breathing is shallow and that my palms have gotten sweaty. I ask people to notice the feeling in the room; generally, we can agree that it feels somewhat disturbed. People look uncomfortable in their seats and seem hyper-vigilant.
Next, I ask them to put the idea of money aside completely and describe the word “spiritual.” I explain that this word, to me — and in the context that we’ll use it – simply implies living according to your values, whatever those values may be. If your values are informed by a specific religious belief system, fine; if not, fine. It means living your life according to your values, however you define them. When people describe the word “spiritual,” they use words such as peace, love, calm, joy, happiness, growth, connection, faith, comfort, reassurance, trust, and serenity. As people describe living life in harmony with their values, I notice that the energy in the room quickly shifts.
Everyone breathes a deep sigh of relief, and people smile, calm down, and relax in their seats as the descriptions flow more easily. There’s less jaggedness and more connection.
We look at the difference between these two sets of descriptions — how dissimilar they are, and how different they feel to explore. I point out that it’s not just interesting what descriptions are on the lists, but what’s missing as well: Anxiety and fear never show up on the spiritual list, and peace and love aren’t used to describe money. This is revealing to me; it seems interesting to others as well.
I share my theory about money:
If you endeavor to live your life according to your values, and you are unable to describe money in the same way you’d describe your values, you can never have a healthy relationship with money. It cannot and will not fit with who you are as a person. Consciously or unconsciously, you’ll have to keep it at a distance – or you’ll be in conflict with your core beliefs. You’ll be out of alignment with your values.
At this point, I notice a pause in the room; it’s as if something has clicked into place and makes sense. If I could give it a voice, the pause would be saying Hmmmm. This is a different way to think about money, and it takes time to absorb the implications.
In the pause, I notice that people are considering this new perspective.
Why is it like this? How did it get this way? Why is there so much disparity between how money could serve us (as a resource in alignment with our values) and where many of us have ended up (in a place of fear, stress, and unease)? It’s all related to how we learned about it.
Most of us were taught about money indirectly, as if by osmosis. From a very young age we begin to pick up on subtle and not-so-subtle messages — messages that were rarely intended to inform us about money, but nonetheless did so in powerful ways; we acquire what surrounds us, regardless of whether that reflects our values. We absorb these messages randomly, yet they become our belief system about money, without our realizing that we even have a belief system.