In this series...
Purging Negative Money Memories Takes Time (Part 1/4)
Purging Negative Money Memories Takes Time (Part 2/4)
Purging Negative Money Memories Takes Time (Part 3/4)
Purging Negative Money Memories Takes Time (Part 4/4)
With every client and student who has money gremlins or intense emotions associated with money, I first guide them through a "Negative Money Memory Purge."
They purge out aaaaaall their negative memories associated with money, onto paper. They extract whatever guilt, hurt, shame, anxiety, and fear related to money out of their psyche and let the paper carry that weight / burden.
Do they write down any money memory? No, only the ones that have negative charge, how ever intense.
Then they burn the paper(s) and send me a photo of their liberation! 🥳 They even repeat this exercise every 6-12 months.
I created this exercise for myself when I was so, so, so fed up with repeating the gnarly, fear based, scarcity driven patterns of my cheap-Asian-dad and victim-codependent-mom.
In the first sitting, I wrote a dozen yucky memories about money. I couldn't think of any more, but I was 100% sure there was more in the abyss of my psyche. So I meditated for 15min, and by end of day, I had barfed out 148 negative money memories!!! 🤮
THE MAGIC IS IN THE FIRE
I created a sacred time and space, closed my eyes as if I were literally yanking out weeds from my mind, and burnt all the papers.
Six months later, I repeated this exercise, but I could only come up with 62 negative money memories. I sat in meditation. I flipped through my memory from age 3 to now, year by year, with a fine tooth comb.
For the life of me, I couldn't remember what the other 86 memories were! I was in awe, they're gone! Gone, gone. There was magic in the fire!!! 🔥
The third time I repeated this exercise, there were 36 negative money memories.
The fourth time, there were 25 memories. The fifth time, there were 18 memories. And the sixth time, there were 12 memories.
Though there are still 12 negative money memories in my psyche, they no longer have power over me. They no longer hijack my decisions. And they no longer rule my life.
When we consciously and intentionally purge and burn away the past, the ashes that are left become fertilizer for a new future. The more monstrous memories require a few rounds of burning.
This repeat practice of letting go is a sign of spiritual maturation and a sure path to freedom.
PROOF THAT Freedom TAKE TIME
In my ongoing wish to live a paper-free life, I was digitizing some older journals, and stumbled upon my list of 36 negative money memories. I was horrified that I hadn't burnt it, that I had kept it! 😱
So I sprinted to the kitchen to burn that mofo list. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught entry #29 "Last minute flight to dad's funeral $3,200. F*cking airlines have no compassion".
At the time, my flights to 16-countries-in-16 weeks totalled $5,200. But this one flight costed $3,200. So according to scarcity, I'd have to cancel 62% of my flights to make it to my dad's funeral.
But 10 months later, after sixteen tons of paperwork, my travel insurance covered $1,600 of that funeral flight. And someone bought an old domain I owned for $3,500. This passing of time, along with personal healing work, gave me new lenses to see that everything works out in the end... in my favour.
It made me wonder, "What else did these negative money memories have to teach me?"
Alchemy of Negative Money Memories Into LESSONS and GIfts No. 1-8
So before I burnt the list, I wanted to alchemize my money wounds / scars / traumas into meaningful gifts and lessons to share with you.
I also tracked the maturation time between the negative money incident and my realization of its gift(s). Like I said in the title of this blog series, freedom takes time.
So in no particular order, here they are.
Gift NO. 1 • Financial Independence*
Money Memory • So embarrassed watching my parents have a public screaming match on the wide open boulevard in front of our house, with all the neighbours coming out to watch from their windows and balconies. Mom had bought a surprise family vacation to Disney World and dad went ballistic because he wasn't consulted and we couldn't afford it.
Inner Child Learned That... Buying fun equals fighting and public embarrassment. So don’t have any fun, don't buy any fun and there won't be any fights.
Lessons / Gifts • Even I knew at that tender age of 7, "Ugh, guys, take this fight indoors." I was only in the 2nd grade and already vowed to NEVER be financially naive and clueless like mom. I devoted myself, no matter the hours, blood, sweat, and tears required, to becoming financial independent, which none of the women on either side of my lineages have ever done. I wanted choice. I wanted sovereignty. I wanted freedom. I was once even offered a proposal and credit card to use as I please; I declined. I chose freedom over financial dependence and the illusion of safety!
Maturation Time • 24 years + 7 months
Gift NO. 2 • Globetrotting Grace + Location Independence
Money Memory • A decade of 2.5-3 hour commute, daily, to and from school, in -35C (-31F) winters, because we couldn't afford to live closer to downtown. It tugged at my jealousy strings every time I saw a student pop out of their heated, chauffeured mini-van with a light jacket, when I was trudging through the snow in 6 layers of winter gear. I never took a taxi, couldn't afford to. The tiny handful of times mom (who doesn't drive) called a taxi because it was -40C and -44C with windchill, it was painful as spilling blood.
Inner Child Learned That... I don't deserve to be taken care of and treated well.
Lessons / Gifts • It was after traveling with a few "princesses" who just couldn't handle life, everything would go wrong and they got soooooo explosively upset at every tiny thing, that I dropped to my knees grateful that I wasn't raised as a princess. Growing up poor made me hyper resourceful, resilient and chill. Even when I was traveling 16-countries-in-16-weeks, changing languages, currencies and timezones every week, everything went so smoothly, with effortless grace. Being low-maintenance and unmaterialistic also allowed me to live in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen in New York City, in Yaletown and Kitsilano in Vancouver, and in many downtowns that I never got to live as a child. With my location independent business, I haven't had a snowy winter in over a decade!
Maturation Time • 19 years + 10 months
Gift NO. 3 • Long-term Relationship
Money Memory • Being paid lame-ass low wages to create a website on a "friends and family" rate
Lessons / Gifts • Learning how to pick my battles and knowing the value of short-term sacrifice in exchange for long-term relationship
Maturation Time • 2 years + 4 months
Gift NO. 4 • Freedom From Filial Piety
Money Memory • While my friends were on summer holidays, traveling, contemplating grad school, dating or falling in love, I was pouring all my time and energy to move my family from East to West coast, renovating an old packrat house for sale, scrubbing black mould and inhaling toxic fumes, fly back and forth house hunting, pouring all my $20,000 savings into my parents' downpayment, working full-time to come up with the rest of the downpayment, while back-achingly packing 71 boxes all by myself for weight/volume optimization and cross country shipping.
Inner Child Learned That... The world is unfair and I was born so disadvantaged / behind. I will always have to work like an ox to catch up and have an enjoyable life.
Lessons / Gifts • To me, those soul and bone crushing months earned me a "Get out of Jail Free" card, from the jail of filial piety. I had filled my quota as the best eldest son and white man I was expected to be. So I cashed in the card and gave myself permission to follow my heart far, far away into a new career. This move catapulted my career into the international stage!
Maturation Time • 7 (bone and soul crushing) months
Gift NO. 5 • Power of Actualization
Money Memory • Was so jealous of X and Y whose parents bought them laptops, bikes, cars, condos, and anything and everything they ever wanted. I even witnessed Z call her dad to ask him to add more money on her credit card so she could shop at the outlets that we passed by.
Inner Child Learned That... The world is unfair. Period.
Lessons / Gifts • Through out the years, I witnessed both of them wandering aimlessly, from low-paying job to random job, kissing other people's asses. It is true that not all those who wander are lost. I too have wandered, trying to find myself. But it's the ass kissing that I will not subject myself to. No words can capture the grandeur of the joy and fulfillment that comes with actualizing my own success with my own two hands (with the help of loving community, of course).
Maturation Time • 17 years + 3 months
Gift NO. 6 • Ownership of Creative Power
Money Memory • Feeling injustice and jealousy that X got to travel all over the world on daddy's credit card, while I traveled on the bit of savings left over after having raised 2 parents and two younger siblings.
Lessons / Gifts • I once met a "trust fund baby" who poured her heart out (as perfect strangers tend to do when they are 1-on-1 with me) about how insecure she felt. Everything she had didn't come from her own making. She constantly feared it would all be taken away, and then she'd be royally f*cked she had no marketable skill. In a reverse mirror way, she showed me how lack of money in my upbringing was replaced with an abundance of creativity, ownership of my power to create my own future, and the inner security of knowing that no one can take that away from me. Even if I lost everything, I still own my courage, creativity, resilience and can re-create a new future, an even better the next time.
Maturation Time • 7 years + 8 months
Gift NO. 7 • Permission to be Human
Money Memory • Making the huge mistake of moving in with someone, for the sole reason of saving money, who ended up betraying me on many levels (because we were both starved for love)
Lessons / Gifts • I was at a business conference, floating in the massive hotel swimming pool when a bolt of insight struck me: yes he may have betrayed me, but the lesson is seeing how I betrayed myself all those years prior!! It became so still and clear in that pool that this betrayal was meant to:
- awaken me to break the victimhood loop,
- act as a giant permission slip to be imperfectly human,
- and serve as spiritual initiation onto the path of enlightenment.
The most illumined and compassionate people I know and study from have all known betrayal or self-betrayal. It's like a spiritual rite of passage.
Maturation Time • 1 year + 3 months (+ decades of self-betrayal culminating to this aha)
Gift NO. 8 • Family Unity
Money Memory • As I kid and student, I regularly wishing I was an only child, so the tiny bit of money we had could buy me textbooks (instead of having to constantly borrow from the library or hand copy the entire textbook into notebooks), send me to enrichment or gifted programs, relieve me from having to work full-time while studying full-time, and allow me to put the sky down even just for two minutes. The few textbooks that I did buy had to be kept pristine, so I could sell them in order to afford the next year's required textbooks.
Inner Child Learned That... There is definitely never enough to go around. I cannot have. I'm not allowed to have. Even if there was enough to go around, I don't get to have. I must find ways to over-compensate for that lack.
Lessons / Gifts • Dropping to my knees in gratitude that I have two younger siblings, who stepped up big time when our dad suddenly passed and I was 13,000 km away. They supported mom, coordinated all the funeral arrangements and took charge of the situation like champs. They even filled the estate clearing process with joy, music, bubble tea and hilarious stories about dad. I wouldn't trade them for all the marbles in the world.
Maturation Time • 14 years + 8 months
How to Start Your Memory Purge?
Simply. List and purge out any negative memories associated with money, in bullet point, in one short sentence. Simplicity is key.
I've repeated this exercise for many, many years now, so I feel relief elaborating on each story, awe in alchemizing every wound into a gift, and joy in counting gestation time. If these 3 actions don't bring you ease, awe or joy, do not do them. Just do the purge.
Live fierce and free,
(First Published Aug 30, 2017)
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