Who the Hell am I?: Money, Fear, & Loss of Identity
[The following is the continuation of the saga of my toxic-now-improving relationship with money.]
As I am working through the concepts for The End of Fear Itself, I find myself returning to my relationship with money, which most of you know, has be toxic in the extreme.
Thanks to Greg Dickson, and some help from my friends, Bobby Kountz and Justin Finkelstein, I have been able to jettison most of the negative emotions I had attached to the tool we call money.
I still hold some resentment for those who misuse the tool to create destruction, greed, and corruptions world-wide, but for the most part I’m able now to separate the tool from the user.
I probably should let go of my angst towards the douchebags of the world, as well, but hey, one fuckin’ problem at a time people.
As I was thinking on Fear this week, I began to wonder what underlying fears were at the root of my relationship with money.
Why did I hold such hatred, disdain, and toxic anger towards it?
And what was I afraid of losing by giving up all that nasty crap?
As for the roots, here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
- A Fear of Scarcity: This most likely set in early in life, due to the fact that my parents were Salvation Army officers/ministers, who worked with the poor and destitute of society, every day. I saw the despair, the depression, the hopelessness of poverty in the faces of those people, and it made an indelible impression upon me. Why were so many people suffering, when others had so much?
- Fear of Loss/Lack of Control: As I grew older, into adulthood, I experienced this lack, this scarcity myself. I was a young father, in debt from day one, with no vision of how to get out of it. I tried, trust me. I worked my fuckin’ ass off for years and years to try to get out of that hole, with no success. This embittered me towards the very idea of money, though I wanted it and needed it desperately. I could never gain control over this illusive thing, called wealth.
- Fear of Loss of Identity and Control: A part of me, deep down, not one that I would have ever really articulated — because I didn’t realize it myself I don’t think — was afraid that if I were successful I might be corrupted in the same way as the douchebags I blamed for the world’s problems. In my mind, they had been corrupted by greed, and greed and money were nearly synonymous. If I became like them, I would lose my identity.
This Loss of Identity carried over into the reasons why I held on to my anger. Why hold onto it for so long? I know now, that holding onto all that toxic emotion is what was blocking my financial success all along.
There are a few reasons I think it was hard to let go:
- Fear of Being Wrong: Down deep, I was afraid that to change my attitude towards money, meant I had to admit I’d been wrong about it all along, and that it wasn’t money, per se, that was the root of all evil. To admit you’re wrong triggers another common Fear,
- Fear of Criticism, or Loss of Status: If you’re wrong, then you may come under criticism from your peers, your friends, even your family. It’s easier to entrench yourself behind the walls of being right than it is to tear them down and come out. To be Wrong, also means you have to face another Fear.
- Fear of Loss of Identity: If I’m not the angry young man (I was once young), thrashing the world of money, then who am I? So often, we take positions of rightness for so long, that they become an essential part of us, of our personality, of who we are. To let go of that feels a lot like chopping off an arm, or even worse, scooping out a large chunk of grey matter from our skulls. Who are we now, if we aren’t pissed off about something? And what about my identity as a Victim of Fate, railing against a rigged system?
- Fear of Outcome: This is related to the underlying Fear I mentioned above, and to the Loss of Identity. If I find financial success, or any kind of success, then what will happen? Will I be able to handle being successful? What does that look like? It’s unknown territory, like moving to another fuckin’ country. Will my friends and family still love me? (Fear of Loss) Or will they think I’ve sold out and become just another douchebag, perpetuating the system. I would no longer be a Victim of Fate! What would my mission in life be without that?
All these Fears kept me stuck for decades. When you’re in the grip of Fear, you can only see the negative side of things, the story is decidedly negative. You cannot see the positive things that are happening around you, the opportunities that your failures offer you, the lessons you can learn from them that make you capable of even greater success in the present. I will return to that idea later, probably in my Power of Storytelling series.
Steve Bivans is host of the hit YouTube show, Second Breakfast with Steve Bivans, the author of the best-selling Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, and is working on his second book, The End of Fear Itself. If you love what he does, support him on PATREON!