One of the students in my Become Your Own Business Adviser program emailed me with this question:
“I recently became aware that I’ve been strangling the life blood out of my business by paying down debt as soon as money appears in my bank account. So I always feel behind, always short, never enough to do what I need to do – such as having a new website designed.
I’ve been doing this because I want to be rid of debt as soon as possible. Do you have any words of wisdom or suggestions for me, on the subject of debt? I know I need to shift my perspective on it – and not resist it as I have been. How can I work with this energy?”
In our culture, we live in an ecology of debt and credit. We are all experiencing the effects of having blithely and blindly blundered into a skewed relationship with debt.
Since 2008, we’ve seen record levels of consumer debt, layoffs, bankruptcies, foreclosures, business failures, and a recession that’s left so many of us scared and shaken.
And yet, we have an intensely ambivalent relationship to debt.
On the one hand, we are urged to spend freely, to consider ourselves entitled to the things we want, and to have them now.
“You deserve it!” is the slogan of the Me Decade. And even though you may think you’re too sophisticated to have bought into the mythologies of the consumer generation, the next time you’re feeling stressed, disappointed or vulnerable, notice how you meet those feelings. What do you reach for, to alleviate them?
Faced with a global economic meltdown, we feel helpless, vulnerable, ashamed of being in debt. We’re not living up to the cultural images of what constitutes a good life – a house, a car, vacations in exotic destinations, plenty of money in the bank – and that causes us shame too.
Then there’s the whole “prosperity consciousness” culture, which – in a fundamental distortion and misunderstanding about the nature of Divine Abundance — says that if we’re in debt, it’s because our consciousness is mired in beliefs about poverty and lack.
In this scenario, there’s something wrong with us if we’re not riding a wave of continual prosperity. In this scenario, our faulty beliefs are to blame; our consciousness can’t be trusted because it’s tainted with doubt. We’re doing it wrong – whatever It is.
Debt becomes evidence of our lack of moral fiber, or of our failure to align ourselves with the beneficial powers of the universe — or whatever else we believe it to be. It becomes a noose of judgment, blame and shame that we place around our necks.
Those of us who are more mindful of how we live may pride ourselves on not taking on debt. We pay our bills on time. We buy what we can afford. We are frugal, thrifty, virtuous in our relationship with debt.
And yet, we are not insulated from the larger economic currents that swirl around us. We are embedded in a cultural and economic ecology that affects us no matter how frugal or mindful we may be.
We are also embedded in an energetic ecology that includes the fear and hope, the anxiety and suffering of every single being on this planet.
When your own pain around money and debt meets the fear and pain of millions of others in the energetic ether, it is amplified and distorted.
You cannot do anything with feelings that are not your own. You can’t process or integrate them, soothe or alleviate them. You can only release them — separate your own feelings from the ambient field of emotions that swirls like a great, toxic cloud in the energy field of the world — and return to the truth of your own being.
So the first step in creating a new relationship with debt is to strip it of all the existing cultural and emotional baggage that has accumulated around it. Restore it to its essence.
You can use energy alchemy, guided imagery or other means to do this. I’ll offer an energy alchemy process for this in a future post.
For now, attune to the soul level of Debt. Everything that exists has a spiritual counterpart. Debt, once you’ve stripped it of anything that is not its essence, has its own soul as well. One of the spiritual truths at the heart of debt is interdependence.
We are interdependent beings. Every breath we take is dependent on the air we breathe, on the trees who convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, on all the beings, mortal or invisible, who are involved in maintaining the ecology of the Earth so we can inhale and exhale in the rhythm of life.
We define debt as obligation. Yet Debt is an acknowledgment of our utter vulnerability, of our dependence on the web of life – and of life’s dependence on us, in turn.
Debt makes it possible for us to grow and thrive; to contribute to our world; to participate in the activity of wholeness through reciprocity.
Take some time to appreciate and express your gratitude for all the “debts” that support your life: The activity of the sun, the Earth, the sky. Your business. Your health. The love and support of your family and friends. The contribution of your clients, colleagues and customers. The money loaned to you by your bank, or by your creditors.
Bring yourself into right relationship with debt, through acts of appreciation, gratitude and love.
Then, consider your monetary debts in the light of this renewed relationship. Receive what you need with gratitude, knowing that the Source of supply – the money with which you repay your debt – is the same Source that gives you the gift of breath and life. That causes the sun to shine each morning.
When you find yourself clenching up, feeling panicked and filled with fear, making your payments in order to get rid of debt as quickly as possible – stop.
Breathe. Remind yourself that each breath is a gift of grace.
Connect with your soul, and with the Sacred. Connect with something or someone whom you love, until the vibration of love fills you.
Then, extend that feeling of love to Debt. Meet her with love, gratitude and appreciation. Greet her as an invited guest.
Stand in your integrity and repay money you’ve borrowed in a way that contributes to your own wholeness, and to the wholeness of all that is. Humbly. Knowing that debt, too, is part of the Sacred. That it has its rightful place in the web of life.
If you deplete yourself and your business in order to repay your debt as quickly as possible, you are disrupting the pattern of wholeness. And that gives rise to other problems. It’s the equivalent of using pesticides to control weeds, killing beneficial bacteria in the soil and poisoning the food and water supply.
Ask yourself this question: If I trusted myself, trusted the Source of my supply, and trusted Wholeness, what rhythm of debt repayment feels right to me? What proportion of my income should I contribute to repaying my debt, and what proportion should I allocate to building my business so it can create more safety, stability, support, and income flow for me?
As your income grows, you’ll need to revisit this question, and adjust your payment schedule accordingly.
When you write checks to repay loans, give thanks for the love that gave you the support you needed, when you needed it. And the grace that has given you the money to repay that support.
Cultivate faith and trust that the Source that gave you life will guide you and grace you with all that you need to remain integral and whole.
Your obligation is to honor your commitments, both to your creditors and to the wholeness and integrity of your life. And to offer your own gifts in return. To flourish. To be free. To be yourself.
Grace is not an obligation — it cannot be repaid. But you can participate in its activity through love, appreciation, gratitude, integrity — and right relationship with debt.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, insights, stories and experiences with Debt. Have you struggled with it in the past? What is your present relationship with it? Let’s talk about this and bring it out of hiding, back into our hearts.
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