For more than 25 years I have had a consulting practice and seminar business aiding thousands of individuals move toward the income they want from work they love. Parental and societal training unintentionally leads most people to accept the income that is offered from work they tolerate. A significant percentage of the people I have worked with have broken free of past conditioning by successfully dealing with unresolved guilt from various sources.
Steps for Positive Change
As you probably know, it is unreasonable to expect these issues to clear up overnight. I like to point out that the unconscious patterns of behavior and thinking acting to limit your income without your awareness were imparted over an extended period during 20,000 meals with people who gave you mixed messages about money.
I lay out a simple three-step method for positive change. It’s the triple A program of Awareness, Acceptance and Action.
Awareness – It is impossible to change what you do not know about. In order to increase awareness, denial, suppression and in some cases, arrogance, must be overcome.
Acceptance – Disapproval makes any accomplishment more difficult. Accepting any situation, as well as yourself in it facilitates change. In many cases, expectations and self-condemnation need to be overcome.
Action – Problems are more like cheese than wine, i.e. they do not improve with age. Very little positive change occurs without effective action. Dreaming alone will not make it so.
In relation to this article, it is my intention that you increase your Awareness of how unresolved guilt may be affecting your financial life and through this to allow you to obtain a greater degree of self-acceptance.
Hopefully everything in this article does not apply to you, so it is probably a good idea to look upon these comments in the perspective of “If the shoe fits, wear it.”
What is Guilt?
The definition of guilt that makes the most sense is that guilt is self-punishment in a universe perceived to be unsafe. This means if you did something wrong in an unsafe universe, it would seem a good idea to punish yourself first in an attempt to beat the much bigger and stronger universe to the punch. Thus guilt is in fact its own punishment. Additionally, guilt is less selective than you may believe. Guilt about some issue completely unrelated to money could be limiting your financial success without your awareness.
Forgiveness (which means giving up the claim of retribution, including retribution against yourself) frees you from the hold of the past. There is also the possibility that failing to resolve guilt for unacceptable behavior in the past could motivate you to repeat it in order to justify it.
How Guilt May Be Affecting You
Unresolved guilt could be affecting your financial life by:
– Lowering your deserve quotient.
– Stopping you from asking for what you want.
– Stopping you from knowing what you want.
– Stopping you from taking those risks that would get you what you want.
– Causing you to say “Yes” when saying “No” is much more to your benefit.
– Causing you to attract people who drain your energy and money with no hope of benefit to you, resulting in justified resentment on your part. Such a dynamic may tend to cause you to view your success as the result of good luck and the failure of others as the result of bad luck.
– People stealing from you.
– Inexplicable losses of money.
– In other ways by making decisions for you.
No one would want to be completely free of guilt.
If you were to behave in manner outside of your own morality, you would feel guilty. This sort of guilt is healthy. Healthy guilt provides a window to our conscience. I believe it is natural to feel guilty for breaking agreements, intentionally deceiving others, telling lies and the like. Anticipation of such guilt actually aids us in avoiding destructive behavior. A person without such a sense of guilt finds himself without a moral compass as has been demonstrated by recent events with famous politicians, professional athletes and others. Complete lack of awareness of guilt turns renders a person psychopathic.
In fact, the origin of the unresolved guilt is far less important than being aware of it and changing it. Nevertheless, I will describe some of its possible sources.
– Societal Guilt about money
– Parental guilt
– Guilt about sex
– Religious guilt
– Survivor’s guilt.
Societal Guilt About Money
Guilt about money and its backlash, which we could refer to as class envy or resentment about rich people, is so intense in our society that any sort of reasonable discussion about public policy related to taxation is just about impossible. The income gap between the highest earning and lowest earning segments of the population steadily increases and the promise of middle class financial security is rapidly becoming a fantasy. Here I am referring to the typical middle class dream of home ownership, sending kids to college and saving for a comfortable retirement. I you feel guilty about becoming rich then you will tend to avoid or fail at those steps that will make you rich, in order to avoid the discomfort of the associated guilt. Conversely if you resent rich people, you will tend to avoid riches, so as to avoid the possibility of receiving the same resentment that you now project on to rich people. There may be many reasons that you cannot afford a Rolls Royce. The fact that someone else has one is not one of these reasons.
Personal and societal expectations regarding parenthood are unreasonably high. Parenthood is one of the toughest jobs in the world, for which there is little useful training. Unfortunately the only training most people receive at this is from their own parents. Although you have the ability to influence others, you do not control them, including your children. You probably made lots of mistakes of commission and omission in raising your children. If you did the best job possible and your children turned out below your expectations, this is OK. You probably did all you could and further self-punishment serves no one.
Guilt About Sex
Most Americans are crazy about sex. I mean crazy in both meanings of crazy. By Americans, I refer to the residents of the Western Hemisphere. Societal views about sex outside the Western Hemisphere are quite different. Our opinions and feelings about sex are the result of intense and extremely mixed messages. Sex is over-glamorized by the popular media and condemned by people who are uptight about it. Some people are so judgmental about sex that they demand that the Government enact laws so that their personal moral views are forced on society as a whole. My personal view is that legal prohibitions of sexual activity among consenting adults, provided it does not hurt anyone or involve children, are counterproductive. Everyone has the right to his own views, but not the right to impose them on others who are of no concern. It is common for people to make agreements with their sexual partners to forego sexual activity outside the relationship in order to foster commitment and trust. Breaking such agreements most often results in the ruin of the relationship.
Religious Guilt Detrimental To Earning The Income You Want From Work You Love
Thankfully we have freedom of religion here. You can have whatever religious beliefs you like. The issue I address is how religious beliefs affect your finances. No matter what church you belong to, there are rich people who are members. It is OK for you to be one of these. There is a religious model of life that says that we separate from God at birth and remain so until death. From this erroneous assumption comes the conclusion that the purpose of life is to earn a reunion with God at some unknown time in the future. Such a reunion is supposedly conditional upon your adherence to an often elaborate system of dualistic and arbitrary morality. This morality often includes the idea that money is evil.
If you believe that money will corrupt you, you are corrupt already. Money cannot corrupt you. There are lots of popular sayings about this. “Money is the root of all evil.” “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Money projects power. No question about that. However, from this it’s a big leap of logic to state that money is the cause of the corruption.
There are corrupt and degenerate poor people and corrupt and degenerate rich people. The only difference is that money enables rich degenerates to express themselves more fully.
Your own business is a wonderful thing. It’s your creation whereby you serve others by expressing those values that are most important to you. The more money you earn the more able you become to serve even more people by the expression of your important values, which is all money can do anyway. The idea that money will corrupt you assumes that money has the power to change your values. If money has that much power, then the values weren’t very strong in the first place.
Religion that keeps you poor borders on medieval superstition. It is time you were free of this. This model produces struggle and lack. Unity with the Source of Sources can only aid in your prosperity. Another way to say this is that the Creator of the universe did not create Mercedes automobiles so that you could not have one.
Survivor’s guilt is the result of a natural, but erroneous conclusion made by the survivors of catastrophic events. It based on the erroneous conclusion that there is some relationship between the fact that the victims died and the survivors did not. Survivors of air crashes, wartime combat, the Nazi holocaust, as well as other man made and natural disasters experience survivor’s guilt to some degree.
From my personal experience, I grew up in a small town in New Jersey (pop. 7,000). Ten people from my town went to Vietnam and I was the only one to come back. Many of casualties were people I knew. During the process of my recovery from the War experience I sought therapy about the survivor’s guilt. I saw that the solution was the realization that those people were dead and I was alive and those two things had nothing to do with each other.
It is my belief that survivor’s guilt is the primary component in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). One characteristic all sufferers from PTSD have in common is that they survived while others did not. The survivor’s guilt tends to keep the PTSD in place far longer and far more severely than need be, because the guilt makes the events more painful to talk about and leads the sufferer to think he SHOULD feel bad. Additionally the sufferer from survivor’s guilt has a tendency to seek validation as, at least, a temporary relief from the guilt. Thus the mature Private Ryan in “Saving Private Ryan” asks his wife to tell him that he has led a good life.
The effort of suppressing guilt only increases its power. If the information in this article uncovers an incident where you hurt someone (intentionally or not) an apology is quite likely to free you from the guilt.
The following affirmations can aid in increasing your awareness of guilt feelings so that they may be accepted and cease to bother you. The basic affirmation on this subject is:
I forgive myself for allowing guilt to make decisions and hold me back. Now I use self-acceptance and massive action to lead straight to my goal.
Others of use are:
God is my Father.
I am free of those religious views that in the past kept me poor. I step forward to claim all the good that God has for me.
I am not my past. I am a child of God.
I now possess the foresight to think through my behavior to its ultimate results.
Affirmation: (about survivor’s guilt)
I am alive and they are dead and these two things have nothing to do with each other.
Authors Details: Phil Laut Web Site