Forgiveness Drives Out Fear

It was 2008

The Great Recession was roiling the economy. The volatility of the market was upsetting everyone’s sense of well-being and life satisfaction. We were all living in a state of fear. We weren’t paying attention to account values, future projections, or financial plans. We were simply consumed with uncertainty and worry.

I noticed this especially with my own financial advising clients at the time. Even when financial projections proved that my clients would be okay, regardless of the sharp declines, most still reacted with fear:

  • Some clients sold investments into cash, resulting in significant loss.
  • Some postponed retirement.
  • Some came out of retirement and went back to work.
  • Others cashed in life insurance with adverse tax ramifications.

Each decision made came at a cost. Some costs were financial, but most came at the price of their overall well-being and peace of mind.

As a financial advisor, I felt I was not equipped to help my clients navigate the overwhelming emotions they were experiencing. Or the adverse effects it was having on the quality of their decision-making. No one was helping my clients make better decisions.

More than financial advice

It seemed important to know how to teach others to be confident decision-makers instead of fear-driven ones. I knew back then that I didn’t have that skill set. But if I did, I could help people heal their addiction to fear (yes, fear is an addiction) and transform their state of financial well-being.

That is why I decided to transition from financial advisor to coach…and 12 years later, I’m still doing wealth coaching full-time.

Now it’s 2022. We’re still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, another period of volatility and uncertainty. Financial planners can prove that their client’s financial plans are on track. They can withstand the storm. But many are still scared. Fear is still in charge of their decision making.

Fearful decision-making does not and cannot produce favorable results, nor will it ever improve your state of financial well-being or life satisfaction. Fearful decision-making is reactionary, impulsive, and creates additional problems instead of peaceful solutions.

So, what can you do?

Learn to forgive

Learn to forgive what you think is the cause of your (financial) fears, stress, and conflicts. Explore your relationship with money. You need to understand where your money patterns and behaviors came from and the influence your relationship with money has on the quality of your decision-making.

Once you do, you will sit squarely on the seat of choice. This can be scary because going forward, you are no longer a victim of your circumstances. You’re aware of your financial beliefs and behaviors. You can choose to believe and act in healthier ways, or you can choose to repeat old behaviors, rooting yourself stuck and fearful, with no one else to blame.

Embrace these times of volatility as an opportunity to see things in a different way. Instead of asking, “why is this happening to me?” Ask yourself, “what is the purpose of this volatility? What can I learn?” Volatility isn’t good or bad. It’s up to you what you make of it. Shakespeare got it right in Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Another choice always exists. When financial struggle or a turbulent market brings fear and anxiety, peace is always a choice. Say this to yourself: “I can choose to see peace instead of this.”

Say this “thought turnaround” statement until you actually believe it.

The practice of undoing

The forgiveness I teach is the practice of undoing. Undoing how you think life is supposed to work and look like, financially or otherwise. It is a commitment to the process of change. Undoing is changing your mind about what is truly important to you.

What’s more important when your investments take a dip: peace of mind or insecurity? What about when you make an impulsive purchase: peace of mind or guilt? When you forgive, you “undo” your initial reaction and deliberately choose peace instead.

This forgiveness gets you out of your own way. Accept that the mistakes you made–financial or otherwise–were not sins. They were simply errors. Now that you are aware, you can choose a perspective that matches your values. Better behavior will follow.

Forgiveness is the great restorer of hope. When past mistakes and current fears are put in right perspective, life becomes easier. You don’t avoid reading your investment statements anymore. You know how to make mindful and deliberate decisions. Instead of worrying if your house will sell above asking, you trust that what matters most to you is in charge of the choices you make. Good decision-making results in everyone’s best interest.

Forgiveness is an attitude…and I don’t know of a way of life more powerful and transformational than this practice.


Hear more from me! Join my free webinar on forgiveness and better decision-making, hosted by the University at Buffalo on September 14th:

Addicted to Anxiety, Part II

Letting judgment go so that you can grow.

Read Part I first.

A Question for You 

What do you think causes someone to file for financial bankruptcy?

What is the very first thought that comes to mind when you read that question?

Now, humor me, write that answer down. Note how you feel as you answer. No filtering please!

What if I told you that this person is 39 years old at the time when they file, lives in the suburbs, is a 15-year veteran financial advisor, and has to apply for HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) to get through the winter?

Did your opinion of what causes someone to file for bankruptcy change? If so, how? Now write that down.

Here is a little more information … this person, when they file, is a single woman.

How does that affect your original answer … if at all? Now write it down.

This 39-year-old single woman, financial advisor of 15 years, living in the suburbs, applying for HEAP because of significant debt … is the mother of a 2-year-old and 6-year-old.

Did that last piece of information change your opinion of what causes someone to file for bankruptcy? If so, how? Please write it down now.

Wait … there’s more.

Prior to filing for bankruptcy, this woman is married to an abusive alcoholic who, over time, gambles away most of their money. Two weeks prior to the birth of her second child, she files a restraining order and has her husband removed from their house. Six months later, they divorce. To protect herself and her two small children, she absolves her husband from all financial support if he agrees to an indefinite period of zero custody and zero visitation. He agrees.

Did this final piece of information somehow change your opinion about those that file for bankruptcy? If so, how? Now write it down.

Assumptions

When you look at your first answer and then your last, what do you notice?

If you are like most that I have posed this scenario and question to, you probably realized that your first answer is quite different from the last. And the reason for the change is that the more information you received, the greater your capacity for understanding and compassion grew.

We are quick to judge, yes? Quick to make assumptions about people and circumstances that we know almost nothing about. And we are just as quick to judge ourselves as well … most of the time not even knowing it.

The Whole Story

I was that 39-year-old woman. The former financial advisor, mother of two, and divorcee.

Regardless of my circumstances, I was my own worst judge and jury, constantly berating myself. In my mind, there was no room for forgiveness. I was much too comfortable playing the role of victim.

And I wasn’t willing to look at the true cause of my embarrassment, my constant worry, and my fears. So, I hid from it. I painted a smile on my face that told others “Everything must be well in her world”.

Then I noticed the physical manifestation of my anxiety … I couldn’t breathe. I could no longer inhale deeply. I was suffocating.

It was the Buddhist practice of “daimoku” that first showed me how to turn inward … to stand back and simply look and notice my responses to what was happening.

From there I was introduced to other practices and processes, metaphysical and spiritual in nature, that taught me how to truly see myself, increase my self-awareness, and let go of judgment.

Letting go of the thoughts (judgments) of “I’m a failure”, “No one will trust me”, “I’m not good enough” is what brought me to the peaceful decision to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy was no longer a shameful event, but one of transformation and liberation.

On some level, we all experience stress and anxiety and, if we are being honest, we experience it every day. And therein lies our addiction.

And its cause? Judgment.

Where Judgment Leads

Judgment of ourselves and assumptions about ourselves are a perfect recipe for anxiety.

It can show up in different ways …

Anxiety could look like the person struggling to let go of their business and/or retire because they are afraid of envisioning their future. Or the husband who has been diagnosed with a debilitating sickness and is afraid of making the wrong decision financially for his family and keeps his fears to himself. Or the woman who is constantly comparing herself to others, thinking that she doesn’t “measure up”, so she doesn’t apply for the promotion.

While the stories all sound different, they all share a common element: judgment. Which then leads to worry, fear, anxiety.

It’s not that we should not judge, it’s that we cannot. To judge rightly, we would have to be fully aware of a wide range of things – past, present, and future. And that is impossible.

I believe that what you give your attention to makes all the difference. This is why wealth coaching is important – because there is value in understanding your current mindset and how it is affecting the quality of your decision making and your state of well-being (happiness).

So, if what you want is a life without anxiety (stress and worry), then do yourself a favor and learn to release judgment and forgive. I have every confidence that when you do, your life will transform in unimaginable and magnificent ways.

If my story resonated with you or you need to let go of your own self-judgment, please hear more from me and register for my free webinar hosted by University at Buffalo on March 23rd: Addicted to Anxiety?

Addicted to Anxiety, Part I

A wake-up call to pay attention and forgive.

The light dimmed. Darkness overtook her mind. She was about to faint. 

Her patterns of financial anxiety were the norm for many years … even while she was a financial advisor. She was successful, but she suffered from low self-esteem and low self-worth. When her business began to suffer, she hid the truth from her husband. 

She will never forget that feeling. Standing in the middle of the kitchen and suddenly overcome with a sense of heaviness. 

Miraculously, she caught hold of the edge of the kitchen counter and fell, almost gracefully, to the floor. Her anxiety had reached an all-time high and was begging for attention.

She sat on the floor, her husband looking down at her, partly in shock and then with concern. She told him that their conversation … well, their argument … over money … would have to wait.

She got up off the floor, steadied herself, and headed to the living room. As she sat down on the couch, she thought, “never again.” She pulled out her journal and archetype cards, her chosen tools to better understand herself, her relationships, and effect positive change. 

First, define “anxiety”:

Noun; a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Her anxiety had reached such an intense level that it had thrown her into a “panic attack”. This all-consuming sense of terror and impending doom, accompanied by a lack of Faith, had rendered her “out of control” and falling to the floor. 

Next, recall two lessons from her years as a practicing Buddhist:

  1. The quality of our environment and experiences reflects the quality of our inner condition.
  2. Faith is the belief in our own limitless potential and in all people to establish lives of unshakeable happiness. 

Her panic attack wasn’t because she was upset with her husband and money, it was symptomatic of her thoughts … her “attack thoughts”. She was reminded that she could choose to have faith in herself. That her potential to reach an unshakeable happiness hadn’t been lost … 

She was done with anxiety. The only way to be rid of it was to look directly at it. 

She wanted to understand where she was “stuck” … where her thinking was “stuck”. So, she drew a card from her Archetype deck. 

The “Addict”.

It didn’t make sense at first. Then it hit her … the “Addict” helps you recognize when an external force has more power over you than your inner spirit does. Her relationship with money was riddled with fearful thinking …  she was afraid to share that her business was suffering. 

She was afraid to tell her husband that she didn’t know how she was going to meet her share of the household expenses. She was afraid he would be angry. She was afraid of being seen as a failure and not good enough. 

Over and over and over, she chose money as the symbol of her fears. And the habitual pattern of choosing “fear in the face of money” had become her addiction. 

In the book, The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron states that it is through pain that one learns to pay attention. 

Nearly fainting from a financial panic attack was a painful experience. It was up to her to decide what to do with it: pay attention, learn, and forgive to come back to peace. Or ignore it and play victim, fully aware that her addiction to fearful thinking and anxiety would continue. 

She chose to pay attention, learn, and forgive. 

With peace of mind restored, she began to change her mind about her relationship with money and herself. 

Once upon a time and many years ago, that was me. Since then, I have coached countless others with similar stories in releasing their anxieties. Did any part of my story ring true to you? If so, we should talk

You can rid yourself of your financial anxiety … then share your own story to encourage others too. Contact me directly at christine@noteadvisor.com.