Reviewing the Situation
I’ve written before about my belief that money is a bit of a shadow in our profession, and probably for everyone at some level. It’s a subject I have a lot of interest in, having some money related trauma in my past, and from my earlier career in accountancy. I recently came face to face with a visual image of one aspect of my own money shadow which I thought I might share with you today.
Why is it important to look at our own money shadow? For the same reason that uncovering any shadow aspect of ourselves is important, because as long as it stays in the shadow, it uses energy to keep it hidden, and it is in danger of sabotaging us in some way.
How do we know what our money shadow might look like? The easiest way to see it is in someone else. If we have a strong reaction to how someone else acquires, uses or manages money, then they may be reflecting back to us some shadow aspect of ourselves. For example, with Donald Trump in the news at present, you may find yourself honing in on some aspect of his wealth or some story in the media about him. This may be telling you that there is some gift for you in what is being reflected back. Another way to find your money shadow is to notice where you have fixed responses, such as “I always…” or “I never…”
I was doing an exercise about shadows during the week and found the image of Fagan from the musical show, Oliver, came to my mind. My first reaction was disgust. I immediately disowned the image. After all, I’m nothing like that grasping old miser who introduces small children to a life of crime in exchange for a roof and a crust of bread. Am I? And while Ron Moody in the musical version was bad enough, the Dickens’ character on which the musical version was based was darker still.
However, I was curious and as the image refused to go away, I found that actually there are some similarities between Fagan and me.
In his famous song “Reviewing the Situation,” Fagan is talking about his desire to settle down with a wife. As he sings, he is looking greedily and covetously at his treasure chest of stolen jewels. Initially, he thinks about the positives, “A wife could cook and sew for me, and come for me and go for me…” But no sooner does the idea come, but he treads all over it with why that isn’t a good plan: “…and go for me and nag at me, the finger she would wag at me, the money she would take from me, a misery she’d make of me…I think I’d better think it out again.”
I can definitely relate to some of that…
- Even though I am very self-sufficient and independent, there is a part of me that resents adulthood, loves to be taken care of, and would willingly trade my self-sufficiency for the luxury of someone else taking charge for a while
- I can often undermine my desires by anticipating overly negative outcomes
- I can create obstacles to intimacy and relationship by telling myself stories about myself and other people
- Sometimes I won’t let myself have what I say I want because I’m afraid it will cost me too much (in money, time, energy or emotional investment)
While I can honestly say I try very hard NOT to exploit homeless orphans in order to put bread on the table, I know for sure that when I feel scared and insecure about my future, the knowledge that I have some money put aside helps to support me. In that scared place, I find my inner three year old, who wants to keep all her toys and possessions to herself. This little girl hates sharing, and bears more than a passing resemblance to Fagan, tucking his treasure chest under his arm and creeping off into the night.
It took a while to get there, but the gift in recognising and acknowledging Fagan in my money shadow is a sense of freedom and compassion I didn’t have before. Up until then, I had this vague feeling that if I owned these attributes, that I would become an exaggerated version of them, in other words like Fagan. While something remains in our shadow, like a stone in our shoe, it feels much larger than it actually is. When we finally get the courage to take it out and look at it, we’re surprised to find it’s not nearly as bad as we thought. It is just one small part of a much bigger whole.
If your money shadow was a character from real life or from a fairy story, cartoon or film, who might it be? Whose behaviour around money really sets your teeth on edge? Who in your experience, direct or indirect, behaved around money in a way that you find abhorrent? And what gift might that hold for you? Or to look at it another way, do money issues turn up in your life in such a way as suggest you might have unresolved money traumas?
And if I can help you at all with this part of your journey, I’d be glad to do so. Contact me here to make an appointment or to avail of a free 20 minute consultation. Your practice will thank you.