Money has a way of distancing us from the truth. What is something worth? We typically answer in terms of currency. Dollars and cents. But we can just as easily answer in terms of time and energy. Measuring our money this way can transform our relationship with money and make us more financially intelligent.
As a marathon runner, I’m quite familiar with the experience and power of massage. As my coach told me some time ago, no serious runner would attempt to compete on a world-class level without a weekly therapeutic massage. The demands of the sport are too high, the bumps and bruises too many, to think that anyone can go through a lifetime of running without paying attention to the active requirements of recovery.
Even so, the bumps and bruises of running can • on occasion • overcome even the best of runners. Witness some of the great names who pulled up short in the recent U.S. Olympic trials. When that happens, the standard recommendation is to implement a program with the acronym of R*I*C*E: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Many runners don’t want hear those dreaded words, but R*I*C*E is the road to recovery when the injury is significant.
What does all this have to do with money? Last week’s Provision talked about massaging our memories of money. Many of us suffer from bumps and bruises when it comes to the subject of money. Whether they come from the distant or recent past, financial injuries can lead to crippling paralysis if they are not attended to properly.
Massaging our memories of money begins with our being able to identify the pain. What’s going on? Where does it hurt? That’s how my massage therapist begins every session. Although he’d eventually figure it out on his own, my being able to identify the pain makes our session more focused, robust, and productive. From there he begins to spread the muscles apart, removing the knots in the process, so that the inflammation can end and the recovery can begin. On occasion, he’ll recommend R*I*C*E • and I always take his advice.
So too when it comes to money. After we identify where it hurts, we can begin to heal and move on by massage and R*I*C*E. Massage, when it comes to memories or money, is a matter of active and honest reflection. We bring them to the surface and chew them over, so as to no longer be controlled or manipulated by them. Just because shopping was a source of emotional comfort in your family of origin, for example, it does not have to be that way for you. You can name the game, understand the rules, and make it different.
R*I*C*E, when it comes to memories of money, is a matter of calling a time out in the game. You don’t go from one thing to the next. You go from one thing to nothing. You take a break from the activity that’s causing, provoking, or aggravating the pain • regardless of how attached you may be to that activity. It can take a Herculean effort, for example, to cut up all your credit cards. But some people have done just that in order to get control of their spending.
In their book Your Money or Your Life (Click), Dominguez and Robin suggest a powerful exercise for those who want to transform their relationship with money. It is a kind of mental massage that, when practiced faithfully, can keep you from ever having to go all the way to R*I*C*E.
Dominguez and Robin suggest that we equate money with life-energy, and that we evaluate every purchase as well as every investment in terms of the life-energy they represent.
The equation of money with life-energy is simple enough to make. How do we get money? Except for those who have large streams of passive income • for which they literally have to do nothing • most of us get money by working or doing something. That’s obvious when you’re being paid so much per hour. But it’s even true when you’re playing the market, for example. It takes time • either yours or someone else’s • to make money.
Time is money is life-energy. How much does something cost? Although we usually answer that question in terms of currency • so many dollars or pounds, for example • Dominguez and Robin propose that we answer that question in terms of time and life-energy. How much time and energy will we have to expend in one area in order to have the money for such a purpose in another area? Once we get that equation on the table, we may or may not be of a mind to make the purchase. It can put things in a whole new light.
I have personally found this technique to be extremely helpful. It does not mean that I have withdrawn from the world and stopped making purchases. It does mean that I evaluate my purchases differently. I massage them, in my mind, with the time and energy question before I pull the credit card out of my wallet.
To overcome your bumps and bruises, to face your fears and create new truths, it’s time to measure your money differently. Don’t think in terms of how much you have, how much you make, or how much you deserve. Think in terms of how much time and energy you expend to get that money.
As a spiritual discipline, you can also think in terms of how much time and energy it takes the vast majority of the world to get that money. The minimum wage would be a good place to start. After you equate that $100 purchase with 20 hours of effort, for example, you may or may not still decide to go through with the transaction. Either way you’ll end up better off for having gone through the exercise of measuring your money in terms of time and energy.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC