A big topic of conversation for my clients and I is money.
It warrants a discussion because one of the things I want to ensure is that gentle living isn’t as seen as a ‘soft’ topic. We deal with rawness, edgy-ness, difficulties and constraints under the banner of gentle living because, as I’ve always said, getting to a gentle life might well be anything but gentle itself, but the rewards can be huge and life-long.
So what’s money got to do with gentle living?
And how can discussion, or more or less, of it lead to a more gentle life?
Understanding what’s important
Well, first – when we understand more about what our gentle life is and what it means to us, we tend to become acutely focused on what’s right and less right for us. As a result we start to make clearer decisions to create space; where the ‘less right’ parts of our lives, and how we spend our time, can be adjusted or even stopped – so that we have more energy to focus on the ‘right’, which is often where the money stuff comes in.
By focusing more so on the things that make us more gentle, we’re not busy for the sake of it. We’re not working or thinking ourselves to exhaustion. We finally see that by doing less we can actually have more – usually more time, more space, more clarity, more stillness and thus more confidence to move forward clearly with our goals – some of which may be money oriented.
We’re able to spend more time on these and our other success markers, making clearer progress towards them without all the noise of extra stuff to think about and do. As a result, we are indeed likely to work towards creating more money.
Getting clear can lead to growth
Second, and related to this, is how money awareness can help us let go of what’s not serving us – releasing us from pressure and stress.
I’ve helped a number of clients work on their money outlook – by crunching numbers with them, helping them to crunch their own and supporting their beliefs about their own value at the same time.
As a result of this, we’ve seen how they can work differently and often less, so that they’re still achieving their goals and aims in their work, and importantly so that they’re not running ragged and on the edge of burnout.
The thing is, all of these clients came to me for gentle living and mindful business support – we didn’t stipulate that we’d look at the accounts. But where this has come up and where appropriate we’ve gone into this, because without it, it wouldn’t have cleared some serious blocks about their business model, how they work and show up for themselves and how they then feel about their own success.
I’m not an accountant, and I don’t profess to provide that guidance, but I am able to spot opportunities for my clients to grow, both in themselves and in their business. And when we talk through the topic of money, it has a huge impact on their sense of control over the numbers and immediately helps them make better decisions, so they can improve their financial situation.
By making changes to how they price and package themselves, they become better at serving their clients, and their clients more deeply value their time and effort.
I’m not one for inflating our prices just because we think we should, but the pattern many women are in (myself included at times) is that we want to support and give and, not without merit, feel loved back (I don’t believe we do anything entirely altruistically and it doesn’t make us bad people for wanting that love!).
We want to be seen to be kind and supportive and helpful and often money doesn’t feel congruent to that because money reminds us
- Of our old corporate lives….; or
- That we’re about to get on a treadmill…..; or
- We’ve never felt quite good enough….; or
- How far we’ve got to go to turn out fledgling business into something that works for us.
But by ignoring it, or not looking closer at it, and by not seeing where things could be changed for us we’re doing ourselves a disservice. We’re not acknowledging the many years of experience we’ve had to get where we are. We’re also inadvertently downplaying the unseen, less tangible results of our work that you know are there but don’t show up sometimes for years later in a client’s decisions or outcomes.
Money and gentle living means being clear on what you would love to have coming in to lead the more gentle life you would like.
That might mean having hard conversations – with yourself and others. It might mean admitting you would like a lot more money and settling into that understanding about yourself, and not judging yourself for wanting it.
It might mean sharing with others how you feel about money and being willing to hold those views even when met by judgement from others (and, really, care less about any judgement). It might mean tricky things happen at home because your money dynamic needs to change, and you want it to change, and that impacts someone else or others around you.
As I said, gentle living is determined work, but done right and at the right time for you, it’s impact is seen for life.
When too much holds you ransom to stress
Third, money and gentle living is relevant to raise where we or others might be in a position that money is holding them back from leading a more gentle life – in this instance the worry that (at times misplaced) security holds them back from changes that would make them so much happier. Money is actually keeping them stuck, for fear of losing it and missing out. Yet it’s also keeping them working harder than they can, keeping them stressed, keeping them beholden to others and a life they no longer enjoy.
I’m all for lovely holidays and good nourishing things – and if these cost the money you earn then please enjoy them.
But if they’re there to compensate for the stressful life you lead to make that money in the first place, wouldn’t it be more exciting to shift priorities and notice what’s even more important first?
What’s the point of living in fear of loss of money, when it has a daily impact on your sense of peace, happiness and calm?
There’s no doubt that self-worth, external validation and ‘success’ play big parts in this process too – it’s never just about the money – but understanding where and how money fears and blocks might be keeping us from making better changes should be an important part of the equation to creating shifts towards a more gentle life too.
When not enough means more than prioritising
It goes without saying that not enough money means a lot of things. How much is your ‘not enough’ will be different for everyone, and I’m not professing to offer a service that is accessible to everyone, but where we’re at personally with how comfortable we feel in our own monetary circumstances matters a lot.
How we feel about our circumstance will invariable also impact what we’re able to prioritise, and what we feel is open and available to us. Also, the level of importance we’re able to put on various parts of our lives – frankly gentle living as a brand will not be a priority at times.
But gentle living as a concept can be the key – self compassion even when we feel life is hard. Forgiveness even when we’re envious. Finding moments of peace even amongst chaos. I’m not saying they’re easy things to find (as I said…hard bloody work) but if we do find them inside ourselves there is a different way we’re able to show up for ourselves and others around us.
No-one said money chat would be easy, hey?
When you don’t feel worthy
Fourth, despite knowing money talk can be very healthy, many of us who come to the topic of gentle living have been giving a lot to others, and struggling to show compassion and kindness to ourselves.
Included in that can be a healthy dose of not feeling worthy – worthy of attention, worthy of love, and worthy of what we would like to charge in our fledgling or growing business.
Which, again, is exactly why we must talk about money and gentle living for our work; we can’t make the belief shifts needed unless we bring it up.
To finally see and believe you are indeed brilliant at what you do and you deserve to have that shown in more than just feedback, to finally realise your years of training counts towards the way you’re supporting people now, to finally see it’s OK to talk about money without feeling greedy and selfish and evil and it will make a whole lot of difference to many people if keeping yourself in business is possible.
Feeling better about ourselves and understanding our worth go hand in hand with having a business we can support and get behind 100% because we believe in it (and ourselves) so much more – thus we both see and feel the value we have.
This is not to, for example, inflate our prices unnecessarily but to finally see you’re worth it and you’re allowed to be happy just like everyone else you help.
It’s not selfish – it’s possibly one of the highest forms of self-care.
Plus, you’re probably doing some life and planet changing work, and what good are you to anyone if you don’t share that, if you don’t have a business to provide others, if you’re so strung and burnt-out that you can’t do what you do anymore because you went out of business by not looking at money and charging what you needed to. Again, ensuring you have a viable business is a huge part of that – but you’re running a business not a charity aren’t you? (just check that one cos I know I had to ask myself that a number of times when I first started).
But money doesn’t feel gentle!
Finally, it could seem inappropriate to speak of gentle living and money together, as if gentle living…as if gentle living is such a beautiful untouchable topic that it can’t be sullied with such things as harsher business ideals.
But if we don’t bring money into the conversation we might miss how adjusting what we’ve got coming in and out (whether that’s more or less of it in both scenarios) can lead to far richer lives at a soul level than we’ve ever experienced before.
I have seen time and again with clients, the wider gentle life community and in my own personal and professional life that when we’re working towards self-compassion, kindness, standing tall and showing up in our lives in the way we truly want, we are all the richer for it. And if actual money conversations behinds the scenes help with that process then all the better.
So, the idea that gentle living can’t possibly be about money feels wrong. If gentle living was only about lounging around, doing nothing and not worrying about the consequences, I guarantee there’d be some pretty stressed souls coming out of the process.
Instead, talking about gentle living and money together allows us to face what’s needed with compassion – knowing what we want and need to survive and to be happy, and to be happier if necessary, based on your gentle living goals. It’s all about living in more alignment with our needs – whether that needs more or less money – and understanding what impact that has on your and others’ wellbeing and the wider world.
So how do you feel about money and gentle living – does it feature in the concept for you and how would introducing more openness about it help you achieve what you need to lead a more gentle (and potentially successful) life? Let me know.