This article is free from harsh judgment and blame. I always come to you from a place of utmost respect. And yet, I feel, this needs attention.
It has to do with the stories we tell ourselves. The stories we create. I am not immune, and have to catch myself as well.
Recently, I noticed a friend of a friend stating publicly online the need for coupons. Something like, “Does anyone have an x,y,z set of coupons for fill-in-the-blank? Lol. #helpmei’mpoor”
Anything wrong with coupons? No
Anything wrong with asking for help? No
Anything wrong with any of this? Well…
I won’t say it’s wrong. What I will say is this:
I want to encourage you to be very, very, very mindful and thoughtful about what you say and how you say it. If our words and thoughts help to create our reality, then our words and thoughts should be of our utmost good. (Read, We are in constant communion with God, and see my take on how we are constantly in prayer mode through our thoughts and emotions.)
In this case, it was clear that the sweet soul who was asking for coupons was trying to poke a little fun of herself, a little humor to downplay insecurities. Perhaps a little light embarrassment for asking.
I would not have gotten the idea that this person was in a dire financial situation, but I have no way of really knowing. Always helpful to suspend judgments.
My husband is a big couponer. He views it as being smart with money. I’m simultaneously grateful to him for being wise with money, as he was always a wise spender. And I’m also of the mindset that I’d rather focus on creating more rather than saving. In truth, both are important in the financial picture. A penny saved is a penny earned and all that. 🙂
I included the social media hashtag # in the statement, Help me, I’m poor, as well because that is another layer to this story. The fact that there is a hashtag means this is a popular trend in some way. That lots of people say #helpmeimpoor and in some way truly want to identify with that.
But let’s face it.
If you are saying in any way, shape or form, Help me, I’m poor, that is a crappy mantra. An affirmation that does not serve you. A statement that will not improve your life. A way of looking at things that there is lack, scarcity, no abundance and no prospects for the future.
I want you to be conscious and make conscious choices. That is my intention.
Don’t feel bad if you have said this. Just be aware that it is not serving you. And choose again.
Mindfully acknowledge what you have been saying to yourself, and then, consciously, make a new decision to make a new story. Adopt a new phrase. Say something different to yourself and to others.
My own personal crappy mantra
I’m reminded of 5 years ago when I began a stay at home mom. I fell into the ‘poor thinking’ trap.
Me with my son, Ben
Having been a public school teacher, and my husband having a corporate job, we were solidly in the middle class. We had moved into a new home a few years prior, had paid off our cars and had no major financial concerns. We had 401k’s and savings.
Yet, we knew that with me leaving my job, we would be taking a significant income cut. For us, it was worth it, because our values really aligned with my being a stay at home parent. It felt so important and I could not wait. We spent the months leading up to my son’s birth putting extra money aside, inside a savings account.
We began to feel a little squeeze. Nothing major, but just knowing that this was not the time for big expenses. Once the baby came, that continued. We delayed vacation planning, accepted gently used baby clothes from friends and neighbors, borrowed a few of the higher-priced baby items like a swing, etc.
We were getting into a mindset of needing to save. We were accessing our savings a little each month and watching it dwindle.
The first year passed and we wanting to continue with me being a stay at home mom for a second year. We had always said in looking at our finances, that we would take it year by year. The second year, our savings was not looking quite as strong, but we made the commitment again that I would not return to work.
Well, something happened one of those days when I was out and about town with my husband and toddling son.
I ran into a former co-worker, a teacher I considered a friend. It was wonderful to see her and to catch up. When she asked if I’d be back at work, I told her of my plans to stay home – but I added…
“We’re going to be poor for another year.”
What a dreadful statement! And when I heard it come out of my mouth, I realized that both my husband and myself had adopted this ‘poor’ mentality when I became a stay at home mom. In our minds, we were sacrificing having money so that I could be home. We were poor.
Now, I’ll tell you, poor is relative. I grew up poor, but my parents grew up much poorer, and their parents, much much poorer. We’re talking about outhouses, dirt roads and no shoes. Yet, we all grew up in America, not a third world country, so again, poor is relative.
And I want to be respectful of that and speak to that. Also, poor can be in your mind.
I became ashamed at referring to our situation as poor, even in humor. Even in making light.
1 – We lived in a beautiful new home in a loving, safe community.
2 – We had friends and neighbors we loved and trusted. We never wanted for anything.
3 – We had two cars, one a few years old with no debt and one new car we made payments on easily each month.
4 – We had good quality, nutritious food at all times.
5 – We had an abundance of materials – anything we needed, bottle warmers, breast pumps, diapers, toys, anything we needed for the baby.
6 – We had books and movies, bikes and a baby bike trailer – items for entertainment and fitness.
7 – We had access to nature on a daily basis with gorgeous trails in our neighborhood.
8 – We had education/degrees, knowledge and skills. We had intellectual ‘assets’ if you will.
9 – We had retirement plans, mutual funds, savings accounts and stocks.
10 – We had the most love in our lives that I had ever, ever experienced.
Poor? Hardly. Middle class on a budget, yes. But not poor.
I decided right then and there never to hear myself speak those words again.
What I didn’t know then and what I have spent the last 3 years learning, is that we are powerful creators. That our creator, however you choose to refer to the higher power in this universe, gave us the ability to create.
What we say, think and feel – that is creating and shaping the next moment and the next moment and the next moment. It never stops, it never ceases.
My newest crappy mantra….!
Recently, I heard myself saying I was old. It was in reference to my pregnancy. (I’m 41 years old and pregnant with my second child.) And I think to hide my insecurity about being an ‘older’ mom, I refer to my age first and jokingly. The conversation goes something like this:
Person 1: “Ah!!! You’re pregnant! Congratulations. That is wonderful! Do you know yet if it’s a boy or a girl?”
Me: “Yes, because I’m old! <ha ha>”
Person 1: <looking confused>
Me: “Yeah, once you reach a certain age they do extra testing when you’re pregnant. I think it’s past age 36 or 38 or so. So, we found out very early on we were having a boy!”
The conversation then usually goes into a variation of what it’s like to have two boys, or how I don’t look 41, or how their sister or friend, etc. is also pregnant past 40.
Me with my son Ben, expecting baby #2
Look – sometimes it takes a while for us to get it. To hear ourselves. To notice what we’re doing.
The last time I heard myself say this and talk about age in this way, it hit me on the head like a big ridiculous cartoon-like ker-plunk.
What am I saying?? Why would I highlight that I am old? In truth, don’t I feel much younger? Yes, absolutely. Do I feel healthy and well? Yes, absolutely.
Is there a better way to talk about my pregnancy? Yes!! Absolutely.
So, then and there I was able to become conscious of my words and make a decision to change them.
The catch is – if it’s a story you’ve practiced for a long, long time (years, or maybe even your whole life), then you may have to practice a new story. You may be on such an auto-pilot that you don’t know how to say it any other way.
I’ve heard this come up in sessions before. When asked to say it in a new way, a positive way or how you want it to be, there is initially silence. You have to think it through. You have to create a new thought, new words. And from that, new emotions and new actions will come.
Here’s a list of some common crappy mantras I’ve said, I’ve heard… maybe you’ve said or a friend of yours…
Add to the list in the comments and if you can, replace it with a better thought. Again, these are things we say aloud. We may have another whole list of a thousand things we say in silence in our minds due to negative self-talk.
Let’s start with what we say aloud to each other.
Life is hard
Money doesn’t grow on trees
Having a senior moment (losing my memory)
When it rains it pours
Everybody’s falling apart (old age joke)
I can’t afford that
Everything is always so expensive
I’ve just never been a good sleeper
No matter what I do, I can’t seem to lose weight
I catch everything that comes around (getting sick)
Why does everybody else always have money?
Yeah, I’m the “poor” kid, my family never had money
The DMV is always a nightmare
I hate flying – my flight is always delayed
I’m losing my mind! (when flustered)
He is always… She is always…
This is just part of getting old (about a body ache or pain)
Success requires blood, sweat and tears
I’m just tired all the time
I never win anything
If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any
Notice some of this is victim-mentality. My dear mother, God bless her soul, has taught me mountains. One of her seemingly favorite ones to say, one that I grew up hearing a lot was, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any.”
If you don’t believe you have any real power in this world, you can say a statement like that in humor, or in desperation. But it’s never going to serve you.
I’ve taken a path of personal growth because of the beautiful souls who populated my world. Growing up, and as an adult. Hard times, good times. Negativity. Beauty. Love. It’s all shaped me. It’s shaped you too.
And here I am now, at the tender age of 41, saying to you: Make your own luck.
I find 4-leaf clovers all the time now. Why? One day I decided it was a ridiculous belief that they were impossible to find. I met a man who found them regularly. I heard myself saying that in my whole entire life I’d never found one! How could he find them all the time??
Ah, he believed he could. And now I do too.
View some of my 4 and 5 leaf clover pictures here and read the full story.
Life is truly what you make of it.