My family has always been blessed financially. After I exited the United States Marine Corps, I immediately found a position that paid plenty to provide me an above average quality of life. Over the next 20 years, I continued to ascend in roles and responsibilities as well as income. When my corporate journey ended in 2016, our net-worth was strong, and our savings provided years’ worth of buffer to allow us to get our own business off the ground. But it didn’t feel like it.
The months following the loss of my job were filled with panic and anxiety fueled by thoughts of poverty and homelessness. I lost sleep because of the dread I felt that my kids would not be able to eat, or that they would never have Christmas again after being spoiled since they were born. I was worried that I would need to sell our cars and our house, scrape by just to pay the rent of a small apartment, and hit food shelters to eat.
We turned off our satellite television, downsized our cell-phones, eliminated comforts, and paid all of our bills with fists clenched like Ebenezer Scrooge considering giving to charity. If you would have been in my skin you would have felt the anxiety of poverty. If you would have watched me you would have thought I was broke. If you would have looked at my asset statements you would have thought I was nuts for being concerned.
I would have taken any job I could find. I interviewed for positions that offered 50% of my previous salary. I felt desperate. I had been fired from two executive level positions over the past 20 months because of alcoholism, my health, and the state of my family, and I was trying desperately to get back into the working world. The fear of loss was more powerful than my desire for “happiness.” At the time I thought having an income was happiness. I thought that was all there was to life.
As the months flew by and my savings shrank, I started working with a coach. That coach helped me understand my current perspectives, beliefs, mind-set, and heart-set and I began to feel safer and safer. I realized that I had held onto painful beliefs and perspectives, such as if I ever touched my savings or investments that I would die, or that everything would collapse. My “safety net” had actually prevented any feelings of safety or security. In fact, over the years, the bigger the safety net grew, the more I scrambled to protect it instead of feeling safe because of it.
Simply put, I had a very poor relationship with money. After reading The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, a fantastic book by T. Harv Eker, I realized for the first time that safety and security is not a number in a bank account or income, but a mind-set and heart-set that money is just money. Harv helped me realize that my relationship with money was painful—I believed that money was life, and the absence of money meant death. He helped me realize that the opportunity to make money was everywhere, and a poor relationship with money will prevent anyone from creating income or wealth.
When I stepped back, took a breath, and observed my life and current circumstances, I could see that I was not in scarcity, but my mind and emotions perceived scarcity everywhere—even in the face of prosperity. After chasing income and net worth my whole life, that with my poisonous mind-set and heart-set, I could finally see that no amount of money would allow me to appreciate what I had.
That’s when I began to recognize and appreciate the prosperity I had for the past two decades. It was always there, but in the chase to feel prosperous, I almost lost my life and family. I was simply not wired to feel prosperous even if I was a multi-millionaire. I began to heal not only my relationship with money, but my relationship with everything. I was in fight-or-flight in all aspects of my life, and my poor relationship with money was just a single aspect of how much I appreciated everything. This shift helped me start my executive coaching and consulting business, and in my first full year in business I surpassed any corporate salary I ever had.
Years later, I coach wealthy business owners, executives, and professionals who have no issues with the amount of money they earn or have saved but feel scarcity at all times. I have clients that could cash out of all their investments now, and never have another financial issue the rest of their lives—but that does not change the fact that they feel that they need more to live. They feel, just like I did, that money is life, and that without more they will die or lose it all. This is insanity. Scarcity at its worst.
When you feel a sense of scarcity inside, there’s no amount of money that can heal that feeling. The feeling of scarcity is pain that cannot be healed until it is observed for the false signal that it is and healed by honoring and intentionally feeling the prosperity that is all around you— regardless of the amount of income or savings you have.
One of my favorite anchoring quotes of all time: “If you’re not happy with zero, when you have one, you’ll just want two.” Happiness, safety, and security are not numbers. They are relationships with your current circumstances that enable you to choose happiness, safety, and security. This mind-set and heart-set allows you to feel prosperity regardless of the external conditions you face.
Do you know any millionaires who feel insecure about money? I do. And yet so many think that millions is the answer to all their problems. Money enables experiences, gives you more options, and allows you to not worry about money. But more money in the presence of a poor relationship with money will just amplify the pain that already exists.