Human beings are belief making machines. Our full-time job is to examine our experiences and understand what causes lead to the results we want. We create beliefs so that we can be happy. Sometimes we create a useful belief that makes our life work better and easier in the future, but other times we miss the mark and our ideas about the world actually make it more difficult to get what we truly want.
I work mostly with people who want a better relationship with money (or, with many, who don’t care much about relationships but just want more money!). So I’ve seen myriad beliefs that have led to all sorts of financial stress and difficulty. I want to share one simple way to effortlessly uncover and clear up the unhelpful beliefs and ideas that may be bringing stress or suffering into your life.
A story from my own life is instructive
When I was eight, my parents discovered that from all my little odd jobs I had collected $42 in my piggy bank. Shocked, they said, “An 8-year old shouldn’t have $42!” and they took the money away.
When I tell this story in public, most gasp at what they heard. How could parents do that?, they wonder. And why?
All I know is I spent a lot of years and a lot of dollars going to therapy and workshops and classes, and reading books and listening to tapes to improve my financial life. It eventually became clear that, as a result of that event, I came up with the idea, “I can’t keep what I want.” And, as I looked at the rest of my life, I could see quite a few other incidents that demonstrated I couldn’t keep what I wanted, that proved my original idea true.
I also know that in all the years I spent trying to resolve my “can’t keep” issue so that I could keep what I wanted, and enjoy the financial life I dreamed of, nothing seemed to make that issue budge.
Then, one day, the first of two very surprising thoughts popped into my head.
I realized that every time someone (including me) suggested that my childhood experience with my parents was contributing to my adult experiences of not keeping what I wanted, I nodded my head.
That was it. Something that simple. I always nodded my head, agreeing with the idea that what I was experiencing now was directly related to what happened to me in the past. I unquestioningly accepted that an event in the past caused my experiences in the present.
When that surprising and small insight appeared in my thoughts, I decided to try something different. Instead of nodding my head, I decided to tilt my head. You know, tilt it just a bit to the left, the way I do when I’m pondering something, when I’m wondering, when I’m saying to myself, “Hmm… what’s true here?”
So, the next time the idea arose that my current experiences were being influenced by my past, instead of nodding, I tilted my head. I wondered, “Is that explanation true? Could there be some other explanation? Do I have evidence that might argue with that notion?”
In that moment, I found examples of dozens, maybe hundreds of times where I actually did keep what I wanted, and times where I had no problem at all if I didn’t keep what I wanted, and times where I happily gave away things I had wanted. In fact, I found more examples that argued with my “can’t keep” story than I had examples to prove it. When I let myself consider keeping vs. not keeping outside of the context of money—to food, shelter, air, water, love, fun and others—I thought of even more events where keeping was a better description of what I’d experienced in my life. My “can’t keep” story didn’t seem to hold up to reality once I tilted my head instead of nodding it.
Over the next few months, a number of changes happened, seemingly out of nowhere. I didn’t think much about my “can’t keep” story. My stress about money disappeared. My income tripled and I was working half as hard to get it. And, I found myself engaged to a woman who I had been in love with for years but who, up until that time, had been avoiding me like the plague. Suddenly, I was “keeping” some things I had really wanted for a long time. Within 2 years, at the age of 39, I retired.
Soon thereafter is when the second surprising thought hit me. I was in the middle of telling the story of my parents taking the $42 from my piggy bank and, out of nowhere, I thought, “I wonder what they did with the money?”
Instantly, the memory appeared.
They took the money… and put it in my bank account.
They never took it at all! They just moved it! And I remembered that I knew that’s what they were doing when they “took” my money.
No wonder all the therapy and workshops to deal with what my parents did had no effect. They never did what I blamed them for. The “event” never happened! Somehow, for some reason, out of the entirety of the actual event, I pulled out the tiny chunk that led to the idea “I can’t keep what I want.” And then I spent years (and a LOT of money) trying to fix something that was never broken.
Now, I’m not saying that the events that you remember didn’t happen to you. My invitation is simpler:
Notice what you believe is undeniably true. Listen to the stories you tell about the cause-and-effect relationships you experience in your life. Pay attention to the times you make decisions based on the cause-and-effect stories that someone else tells you.
And, when you catch yourself nodding your head, try tilting it instead. Wonder, “Is that true? Could there be other causes that lead to this same effect? Could that same cause lead to other effects? Is there more to this story that I haven’t noticed yet? What examples of the opposite of this meaning can I find? Hmmmm?”
You may be shocked at what you discover when you look at life with a tilt on.
Steven Sashen has taught with transformational visionaries Byron Katie and Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. In addition to leading Quantum Wealth workshops, he maintains a private practice sharing The Work and Integrated Kabbalistic Healing. He’s a teacher in a 400-year-old Zen Archery lineage and has practiced Vipassana meditation for over 20 years. In the “Outer” world, Steven founded a multi-million dollar software company, is an internationally known Internet marketing consultant and co-founded the world’s most successful online Network Marketing company.