Starving artist or desperate designer?
Understanding Your Relationship with Money
By Donna Colfer
Starving artist or desperate designer?
At the early age of nine, Becky would have a beautiful table set and dinner ready by the time her parents came home from work. Becky was the older of two children; her sister was five years younger. Her mom was an attorney and her dad was a physicist (a rocket scientist!) with busy work lives. “I took care of my sister and felt more like the house help growing up. My mom was a type-A person, busy and often tense, angry, and worried,” she commented.
Becky’s dad was the opposite, more lighthearted, generous, and carefree. On occasion, he would treat Becky and her best friend to ice cream, only to come home to an angry mom who lectured dad for paying for her friend…in front of her friend. Becky felt embarrassed and ashamed and couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal.
Becky’s dad wasn’t as organized with money. He was a bit detached and undisciplined: the opposite of her organized mother. Not only did Becky receive mixed messages around money, but she also took on the responsibility of being the mediator in the family, taking care of everyone’s needs to keep the peace while unconsciously developing a strong Martyr money type.
Since she was nine years old, Becky’s passion in life was to have her own design business. She was truly a Creator/Artist and eventually followed her passion with a master’s degree in art. Her parents did not support her field of study because they didn’t believe she could make money as a designer. There was a constant message from them that “artists don’t make money.”
At age 20, she received her first credit card, not realizing how credit worked. When her mom found out about her accumulated debt, she hit the ceiling! She loaned Becky money to pay it off, which was just one more thing for her mom to be angry about. Instead of educating her daughter about credit cards, interest rates, and saving to grow money over time, she confused Becky. The lack of understanding how money works (Innocent), the lack of attention growing up, and constant criticism from mom (Victim) has contributed to Becky’s feelings of being unworthy and undeserving to receive (Martyr), especially around money. These attitudes kept alive the belief that “artists don’t make money.”
Over the years – and in spite of this belief – Becky had some great positions working as a Creative Director for several design firms, managing projects with large teams and budgets. And though she was paid well, she often felt undeserving of the jobs and high salaries because the nagging belief she unconsciously bought into so many years ago persisted: artists don’t make money. Consequently, her positions didn’t last, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy around money and her career, which in turn fed her low self-confidence.
One of the first steps toward changing your relationship with money is becoming aware of unconscious beliefs governing what you can and cannot do. It’s important to identify unconscious agreements that keep you small so you “fit” within your family’s dynamic. Without this knowledge, it’s much harder to create a more fulfilling and prosperous career. In Becky’s case, she worked for bosses who were similar to her mother, continuing her experience of being criticized and unsupported (Victim).
After recalling her money memories growing up, and becoming familiar with her relationship with money, Becky was completely willing to re-write her “internal script” around money. She’s learning simple ways to become more disciplined and consistent in managing money and feels much more empowered to make better decisions moving forward. She has developed her own part-time design business. She realizes that valuing her self-authority, work experience, and education (Warrior) rather than trying to prove her validity to her parents when earning money was far more effective and deeply satisfying than her old attitudes. She attracts the right clients and situations, and she creates more ease and flow around money. When things don’t go as planned, she no longer defaults to the old belief that she can’t make money as an artist. She remembers her vision, reaches deep inside to find the strength and patience to believe in herself, and has faith in knowing she is more than enough, and that all her needs are being met (Magician). Forgiveness has played a huge role in letting go of grudges against her parents, and lightened up her creative path while she remains grateful for all that is working.
Learn more about your relationship with money: visit www.BuildingWealthFromwithin.com and take the complimentary “Money Type Quiz.” Only you see the results. Or contact me at donna@BuildingWealthFromWithin.com.
Donna Colfer has worked in financial management since 1987. As a Financial Counsellor and a Certified Money Coach, she blends her financial expertise with spiritual counselling in her private practice in Sonoma. A Valley resident since 1981, Donna and her husband, Randy, reside in Kenwood.
© 2015 Donna Colfer