The Kenwood Press
: 05/01/2014

Taking the ostrich approach

Donna Colfer

Maggie is almost 70 years old. You’d never know it; she looks 20 years younger and still enjoys working. She grew up on the East coast and loved being in the limelight as a child; she was head of the cheerleading team, was an actor, and a dancer. Whenever she wanted anything, her father would pay for it. She was raised to believe she would be taken care of by either her parents or a husband; not uncommon in that generation.

Her parents lived and managed their money well. Unfortunately, the management of money wasn’t passed on to Maggie, but she easily caught on to living well. After college she became a skilled, dedicated teacher, but continued spending most of her money on clothes and enjoying nightlife with her wealthy friends. This wasn’t a problem since her father paid for her rent and expenses.

This all changed in her late twenties when Maggie decided she needed an adventure and moved to California. Leaving the safety and security of her family was scary; she was financially on her own for the first time. This was the beginning of her independence, creative endeavors, and uncertain job earnings. The types of jobs she chose and how she managed what she earned was a struggle for her. Back home, her father managed everything. She continued calling him to send money when she came up short. This went on for years. She eventually married a writer/editor who was self-employed. They made a great team, but it didn’t add financial stability to their lives. Maggie and her husband always worked but relied on her father’s monthly support.

The time came when Maggie’s father was no longer able to continue his financial support. This threw Maggie into a tailspin of fear. Her “safety net” was gone. Her whole life, she had avoided looking at the details. She’d been brought up to believe she would always be taken care of, which kept her naive with a sense of entitlement. Now she’s almost 70 and for the first time, her goal is to learn how to take care of herself financially and bring a sense of empowerment and security into her life. That’s when she asked for help. It’s never too late to ask for help.

Taking the “ostrich approach” and burying your head in the sand is one way the Innocent money type handles money. As children, we all start as innocents and hopefully learn about money from our parents or in school as we get older. Unfortunately, when money know-how isn’t taught, fear results, creating inaction and denial about our finances.

Innocents prefer to be rescued from this seemingly huge responsibility, to have someone else handle it. Their primary fear around money is abandonment. Since Innocents don’t trust their own capabilities, they become very trusting of others whom they believe will do a much better job. It is a perfect setup for being taken advantage of. Though they appear happy-go-lucky externally, beneath the surface, Innocents can be fearful and anxious. Making decisions around money doesn’t come easily, they become financially dependent on others. Because there’s a tendency to repress their feelings and beliefs, they’re often non-confrontational around money issues. This leads to feeling powerless and overwhelmed. Maggie had a pattern of being an under-earner not because she lacked skill, but through her job choices. She couldn’t negotiate well for herself and didn’t feel the need to learn how because her father was always there to rescue her when times were difficult financially.

How do you heal the challenges this archetype has around money? The answer: take responsibility to educate yourself and “own” your self-authority. The first step is to ask for help. Think of someone you know who is good with money, either a family member or a friend. Take a class or hire a money coach or bookkeeper to teach you basic methods. With some simple instruction, you’ll start to claim your own power. Begin questioning others’ motives or behaviors; this will give you experience trusting yourself more. You’ll then learn to find safety in the knowledge of your own capabilities. Allow yourself to experience your independence, one baby step at a time, and your fear of abandonment will dissipate – as well as your innocence.