A few weeks ago I spent the morning with a group of financial planners in Atlanta. It was a delicious experience from the moments before my talk began, when several of the members introduced themselves and thanked me for coming to their meeting to the talk. There were also two heart-touching demonstrations of my work on the root of people’s relationships with money and a “harvesting,” during which many participants acknowledged they realized they knew they needed to do their own work for themselves and they knew they needed to do their own work if they were going to help their clients. In therapy it is known that a therapist can’t take a client past where the therapist has gone in his/her healing. That is not just true of therapy. It’s also true of other life paths, for example, financial planning.
I was moved as these open, willing, courageous men and women allowed me to touch them with the truth, that nothing we do with our money in the here and now will create a sustaining and sustainable relationship with money. No matter how well we budget and save, how wisely we spend, or how well we plan. The only thing that will create a sustainable relationship with money is doing our own inner healing work with the root of our relationship with money, which inevitably leads to some other aspect of our life experience and our psyche that is calling out for healing and growth.
As part of my talk, I helped them understand that often only a small portion of our most intense feelings are here and now. The larger share of those intense, deep, raw feelings are from long ago in our childhoods. Many here and now situations will trigger the feelings from long ago that we haven’t yet healed and resolved. Some of those situations are more minor situations, like a disappointment in a relationship with someone close to us. Perhaps a friend doesn’t have time to talk with us about a difficult interaction at work. Some situations are considered major like natural disasters and serious illness.
When major situations occur, they bring up here and now feelings, particularly feelings of fear. But they also trigger our feelings, our fears and terrors from early in our lives, the ones we’ve buried and have spent great effort trying to keep buried. At every occasion when a past feeling is evoked, if we utilize that opportunity to follow the feeling for the purpose of healing, it changes us within and changes the world around us at the same time. At every occasion when a past feeling is evoked by communal events, saying ‘yes’ to that chance to heal helps and if many of us are choosing healing all in the same period of time, related to the same event or events, imagine the change that can be created.
When you feel something more intense than today’s situation warrants, it’s a signal that something from your past has been triggered. Draw a boundary between what you feel and any action you’re tempted to take. For example, if you’re furious at someone for not listening to you, don’t rage at that person. Remove yourself temporarily from the situation and commit firmly to allow yourself the time later to not only express these feelings in a safe, conscious, and non-destructive way for the purposes of healing, but also to explore the roots of these feelings.
Do not stop here, however. To truly heal these feelings, you must “make good” on the promise to yourself to both express and explore these feelings in a safe way. If you stop at simply removing yourself from the situation and telling yourself you will deal with it later, and if you don’t move forward to do the inner work to heal, you are simply burying the wound further by trying to “manage” or “control” it. Instead, stick to your commitment to follow the feeling inside you to its original source and do the work with those feelings in a safe, conscious, purposeful way — on your own if you already know how and have built the capacity, or with a good, safe therapist.
© Copyright 2009 by Judith Barr, MS, LMHC. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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