One of the things I’ve been hearing a lot lately is “I can’t afford to spend money on myself right now.”
Granted, I’ve heard this thought specifically in regards to my See You. Be You. group retreat and coaching program – but this mindset comes up so often, for so many of us – I wanted to explore it a bit more deeply.
How do you get to the point where it is ok to spend “that” amount of money? And specifically, how do you decide to spend money on yourself?
Beliefs about not having enough money or time are some of my favorite thoughts. These beliefs are responsible for triggering us down into the trap of scarcity, fear and overwhelm. And it occurred to me, that just like I believe we should be protective of our WHY instead of our time, I’m also a cheerleader for being willing to invest in our why and our inner flame instead of hiding it under a mattress with our pennies.
The thought I can’t afford to spend money on myself is a doozy. Especially around the holidays, or when you have kids that are heading to college, or when you have already allocated your money in other ways.
Practice inquiry around sticky thoughts
The journey to believing that it is ok to invest in yourself can be a complicated one – so I want to take you through the process that I’ve used to get myself to the point that I feel worthy of spending money on ME. This process works for any story, thought or judgment that you tell yourself. The process is inspired by The Work, an inquiry process by Byron Katie and is based on the theory that thoughts are just stories we tell ourselves – stories that more often than not do not serve us to be the best versions of ourselves.
We’ll start with the original thought: I can’t afford to spend money on myself right now.
I’ve had this thought before. A lot of times. When I thought about registering for life coach training, for yoga teacher training, to work with my own coach, to sign up for a program with another coach while simultaneously still working with my 1:1 coach, to sign up for a surf retreat – the list goes on.
Who are you with the thought?
With the thought I can’t afford to spend money on myself, I feel frustrated. Stagnant. Guilty – like I shouldn’t want to use up more of our family savings or resources. Like I should be spending my time on more tangible, concrete things. And then I feel resentful. And then scared – and I start to doubt my choices. Are they sustainable? Will I have to go back to teaching elementary school because I will have failed? And somehow as the phrase “yet again” sneaks back into that sentence. And further and further down the rabbit hole, I go.
Who are you without the thought?
What would happen if I couldn’t think the thought? If I could put it on a shelf – just temporarily. Without the thought, I’d be optimistic. I’d be curious about what wants to emerge. I’d notice abundance and be grateful for the big and little things. I’d discern between choices from my heart rather than my mind. I’d show gratitude to my family for giving me the space to explore. I’d see what was possible.
That isn’t to say that the choice to spend will be easy or that I won’t feel some guilt, but now I have an opportunity to pause before I think and react.
Reframe your thought to make room for new possibilities
The next step is to reframe the original thought. The easiest way to do this is to consider the opposite.
I can’t afford to spend money on myself becomes I can afford to spend money on myself.
Or, because I like options – I can’t afford to NOT to spend money on myself.
While those might sound strange – the process of inquiry isn’t about believing every turnaround just because. It is about creating space for new possibilities. For looking for evidence that other perspectives might be true, or truer.
For each turnaround, the process of inquiry invites us to look for evidence that the reframed thought is true. Is there an anecdote or example that would offer documentation of a time where that was true?
I can afford to spend money on myself.
Just recently a yearlong group program came up with a master coach that I’ve admired and respected and always wanted to work with. I saw the program as a way to deepen my own individual sacred practices.
Don’t I already have a business coach/spirit wrangler? Why would I need ANOTHER program? I knew this question would come up from my husband (and in my own mind).
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this work helps me get deeper clarity and amplify the work I’m doing with my fabulous 1:1 coach. Ok, but still – this was another big investment.
At the same time that this program came up, I was also thinking about purchasing a new laptop. I “needed” a lighter option to travel with that was more powerful than my iPad but not as heavy as my older MacBook Pro. But wait! The new laptop and the program were similar in cost. So I could afford the program if I pressed pause on buying the new laptop. And now – there it was – I could afford to invest in this program and in myself.
I can’t afford to NOT to spend money on myself.
I had to think about this one for a moment. I thought about synonyms: I can’t afford to pass this up. I can’t afford to miss this opportunity. I can’t afford to miss this moment.
It hit me. Right. Every single moment I spend being present with my family. With my daughter, with my puppy, with my husband. My daughter’s Bat Mitzvah sticks out to me in particular. We wanted to keep the event small and focused on her and the significance of the milestone. We’ve got some unique family dynamics (though really, who doesn’t have unique circumstances?) – and more than anything I wanted to savor and cherish every moment. It would have been easy to get wrapped up in the pomp and circumstance that this day can trigger, but in the end – none of that mattered. I couldn’t afford to be thinking about shoulds or expectations. I wanted to be present and immersed in the joy that radiated from my 13-year old.
As it often happens when you start to practice inquiry, some thoughts are harder than others – but when you get the ball rolling, other examples bubble up to the surface. I realized that I’d had a moment that in retrospect, I couldn’t afford to miss.
Have you ever done one thing that then opened the door to a new possibility or understanding? Going paragliding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming was that thing for me. It was expensive for an experience that lasted no longer than 30 minutes. But my heart knew that I had to do it. Not only was the money a stumbling block – we were also at the mercy of the weather and just the right wind patterns.
The day before my paragliding flight, I’d gotten a massage. The therapist and I were chatting about energy work and in passing, she asked me if I’d ever considered life coaching. Indeed – I had! But I’d never admitted it to anyone. Fast forward to the following morning. I rode the gondola to the top of the mountain, only to step off the summit harnessed to my paragliding pilot and parachute. It was at that moment, soaring through the air with the birds and the clouds, noticing how it only took subtle movements to change direction – that I knew. It wasn’t about a destination as we flew. It was about noticing. It was about letting the wind move us and fully experiencing each shift with gratitude and wonder. By the time I reached the landing zone, I’d decided to embrace the nudges. I’d taken the first step to be a guide for anyone who was stuck in a “not enough” mindset to release their dependence on external validation and their hold on expectations and outcomes with more intention, more self-compassion, and more self-acceptance. Thinking back to that moment of decision, I thought I was deciding between spending the money or passing on what seemed like a frivolous “want”. But now, I realize I couldn’t afford to miss the opportunity.
Ok, we’ve reframed – now what?
It is so easy for us to wrap ourselves up in scarcity induced thoughts about not having time or money. I get it, I’ve been there. To be perfectly transparent, my husband is an aerospace engineer by training and lives in world of spreadsheets and budgets and doesn’t always appreciate my willingness to spend. After all, we went from a life where there were two steady incomes down to one and another that reflects the ups and downs that come from the life of an entrepreneur.
The now what comes with awareness.
When you are aware of the stories you are telling yourselves and have spent time reflecting on other possibilities, you have options. Choices. Opportunities to discern. What feels right? What nudges does your heart want you to know? What stories will you choose to release and which ones will you invest in and amplify?
Many of us spend a lot of money and time looking for the magic solutions and cure-alls. Vitamins, supplements, essential oils and even skin care are great examples. We want to find the exact right combination that will make us healthier, more radiant, younger-looking…which we think in turn will make us happier and more fulfilled.
But what if instead of shopping around or trying anything and everything that is new and sparkly, we could commit to ourselves? To going deeper and finding the answers within?
My invitation to you
How do you get to the point of it being ok to spend money on yourself?
Ask yourself this question: What choices are band-aids or searches for magic pills and what investments will help you stand stronger in yourself with more awareness, more intention, and a feeling of “enoughness” that comes from deep within you?
Are you ready to seize the opportunity because you can’t afford to miss this chance to get to know yourself with more clarity, more love, and more self-acceptance?
I’d be delighted to have you join me for See You. Be You. But if not, I’ll still be here. Know that I’d love to support you in any way I can. Whether it is to hold space for your story or to help you step into 2018 with more self-compassion and less judgment – I’d love to connect. All you have to do is email or set up a time to chat.
Oh…and sometimes learning to hit the pause button can be a valuable way to get out of your mind and into your heart. Get your free guided exercise to find your personal pause button