Chapter by Alexis Neely from the collaborative book:
Pioneering the Path to Prosperity
For years, I chased freedom—and got it. Kind of. At least from the outside, it appeared that way.
I built two million-dollar companies, wrote a best-selling book, was appearing regularly on television, had a house a half a block from the beach, sent the kids in private school…the whole nine.
By anyone’s standards, I had made it.
I should have felt abundant, but I didn’t.
I had a great business and the ability to make all the money I could have possibly needed, and yet I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt.
You see, I couldn’t appreciate what I had created. Instead, it all felt like a huge burden. I was terrified most of the time, questioning myself constantly, and horribly uncertain about whether I was making the right decisions.
“Am I doing enough?”
“Will I be able to keep this going?”
“Does he only like me because of my money or what he thinks I can do for him?”
“Am I on the right path?” “Do I even like the work I am doing or am I only doing it for the money?”
“Is the work I’ve created even valuable in the world, or am I just a really good saleswoman?”
“What should I be spending my time on?”
“Is this a good use of my resources?”
“Should I make that investment?”
“Is she trying to take advantage of me?”
“Am I getting my money’s worth here?”
Although I had plenty of money, I did not have anything close to freedom. I was worried sick, almost all the time.
I knew there was something else possible: a feeling of ease around money, a knowing I had enough, a certainty that I was doing the work I was meant to do, in the way I was meant to do it, and that I was being paid properly for that work. That would feel like true freedom to me, if only I could figure out how to have it.
False Core Beliefs
All the incessant questioning, and my reactions and behaviors that arose from that questioning, stemmed from a core belief I carried with me from childhood. This core belief led me to make consistently poor decisions about how I used my Time, my Energy, my Attention, and my Money (I call these TEAM resources). Due to this core belief, I hurt relationships that will never recover. I made investments that reinforced my belief that I couldn’t handle what I was creating. And I used my money to try to buy myself security and assurance that I would be loved.
The truth is, I didn’t really know how to have relationships because the only thing I really thought about when it came to relationships was how much the relationship would cost me or how much it would make me.
I had no clear vetting process for investments and was usually too afraid to ask the hard questions that would reveal what was true because I didn’t want to be disliked.
The saying “money can’t buy you love” is an absolute truth. My emotional and spiritual bankruptcy would ultimately lead me to financial bankruptcy, where I was able to discover the truth of financial freedom and what it takes to really have it.
At the bottom of my rock bottom, I got to see the truth of who I was, and I didn’t like her.
As Sara Blakely, the founder of the billion-dollar company Spanx, is quoted as saying: “I feel like money makes you more of who you already are. If you’re an asshole, you become a bigger asshole.”
That was definitely the truth for me. I was an asshole, plain and simple.
While I considered myself someone who cared about people, that caring was mostly trapped beneath a dis-ease of epic proportions that nearly ruined my life and most certainly didn’t make the lives of the people around me very pleasant either.
The scariest part about it, though, is that I was blind to it, due to a common disease that I believe most of us have. And, it’s a disease that’s extremely difficult to see or diagnose because it’s so common in our culture.
The First Signs of Dis-ease
In fact, you just might have this disease yourself. If you do, it really doesn’t matter how much money you make, it will never be enough. If you have this disease, you’ll never feel free.
If you have this disease, you are probably an asshole too, and may not even know it.
Instead, what you will likely do (and are probably doing right now) is compromise your life, your time, your energy, your attention, and your relationships. And maybe even blame others for that compromise.
The worst part is, you won’t even know it’s happening, though you will be aware that something isn’t right because no matter how much money you make, it will never be enough.
It’s not your fault though, really. It’s the disease. It’s blinding because it makes you think you don’t have what you need and that you must compromise because if you don’t you’ll starve, or be homeless, or never be able to support yourself, or not be good enough, or never prove it to them, or…well, you know the stories, I am sure, because you’ve got your own personal version of them, probably secretly motivating you, possibly in ways you can’t even see.
As a result of this disease, you have thoroughly convinced yourself you have to work that job you hate, or stay in that marriage or relationship you can’t stand, or go to that event you really don’t want to go to, or be friends with that person you would rather just not, or invest in that company that you know is hurting the planet, or buy that disposable thing because you can’t afford the one that’s more expensive, but won’t end up in the landfill, or not do that thing you really want to do, and you just know would change your life…because, well, you don’t have enough money to make a different choice.
Do you see what I’m saying here?
You long for freedom, and yet every choice you make is based on a diseased reality, a distorted view … the ultimate trap.
Where Are You Blindly Compromising Due to
Dis-eased Understanding of Money?
How much would you need to have before you stopped compromising? Or before you got truly generous, as you claim you want to be?
It doesn’t matter. Because if you are compromising now, or not being generous now, there’s no amount of money that will ever be enough—not until you see the disease that has been running your life, wake up from it, and start making your choices with your eyes wide open, clear, sober, awake, and aware.
When you begin making your choices with your eyes wide open, you can relate to money, and compromise, and generosity, and the life you really want, from a place of health.
What will it take for you to get there?
Will it be a forced financial crisis? Or a health crisis? A spiritual crisis? A business crisis? A relationship crisis? Or, all of the above, all at the same time?
Will you be willing to see what’s true before it takes everything you have from you and you are forced to rebuild from the bottom of the bottom, like I did?
Ultimately, this is your choice. If you are on a the path to true freedom, you will either be forced to discover what’s true or you will choose to excavate the truth, consciously.
The path of true freedom, what I call financial liberation, will require you to grow up and see what’s actually true, one way or another.
Force or Choice?
For me to see what was true, I had to be forced. I simply could not make the choices that were necessary for me to face reality.
Instead, I had to hit absolute rock bottom, “forced” to move from a 3,800-square-foot house into a two-bedroom ramshackle farmhouse, “forced” to give up all of my “help,” and “forced” to let go of everything I thought I was creating, so I could watch my life unravel.
As it was happening, I was often torn between surrender and grasping in terror as I tried to hold on.
I never would have been able to see the truth if I had not come across two timely and pointed resources to help me see where I was actually off the path.
The first was Lynne Twist’s book “The Soul of Money” and her teachings around sufficiency. Lynne says that sufficiency isn’t about cutting back or lowering expectations. “Sufficiency,” she says, “is a context we bring forth from within that reminds us that if we look around us and within ourselves, we will find what we need. There is always enough.”
I loved these ideas, and yet didn’t know how to actually find them inside myself. They were beautiful words with no actual meaning inside of me. I was still sure I needed millions of dollars accumulated in my bank and retirement accounts to be free.
Then I met the $100 million man and saw clearly how very wrong I was, and I got a very clear view of the trap I was creating for myself.
I knew he was a $100 million man because it’s all he could talk about: where the money was, what form it was in, how he could access it. At the same time, he was still working harder in his business than anyone else I had met. Not because he needed to for the money, but because he didn’t seem to have anything better to do.
The $100 million man’s relationships were painfully shallow, his fear prominent, and his primary security came from the gold and silver and bills and coins he had piled in various places across the planet. He was more trapped than anyone I had ever met, living in excess (in stark contrast to sufficiency) and yet still seeking more.
Meeting him, and reading Lynne’s book, I saw that I would need to face the truth that everything I had created was from a place of “not enoughness” and it was time to find my own sufficiency, rooted and grounded in reality, on my path to true freedom.
So I did. I faced my biggest fears. I let it all go. I did the thing I said I never would, and moved to the farm with my kids.
And for the first time in my adult life, I was no longer the breadwinner. I was no longer the one who paid people to do things for me. I was stripped bare.
I grocery shopped, and cooked, and drove my kids around. And felt certain I had failed with no hope of ever returning to this thing I had called success and prosperity.
What I discovered in that year was that there was a far greater possibility of success and prosperity available to me when I remembered who I was, why I was here and what was really mine to do.
Because, until I was choosing to live from the truth of my being, I would never feel fulfilled, no matter how much “success and prosperity” I created.
And the first thing I would need in order to live from truth, and remember who I was, why I was here, and what was mine to do would be to get into right relationship with time, money, and how I got paid.
Doing that made me face that I had been living with a painful disease. A disease that had kept me blind. A disease that keeps many of us blind. A disease that has most of us compromising what really matters to us and creating a world that doesn’t really work for anyone.
My hope is though that I did the work for many of us, and that if you are reading this now it’s because you are ready to wake up, see the disease that’s driving you and make a different choice without having to lose everything to do it.
So, what is this disease?
Money Dysmorphia, Revealed.
It’s called money dysmorphia. And it’s the distorted view that most of us have about money that causes us to make poor decisions about, well, everything. But, mostly it causes us to make poor decisions about how we use our non-renewable assets: our time, our energy and our attention.
And the really sad part of this is that money is infinitely renewable. You can always, always, always make more money. But once you’ve given up your time, your energy, and your attention, it’s gone forever.
The good news is that once you see your money dysmorphia, you can begin to awaken to right relationship with time, money, and how you get paid, in a way that will bring you all the prosperity you want and need. And you’ll stop compromising. I imagine you’ll also be generous in all the best ways, supporting a world that truly works for everyone. And that’s the path to true, everlasting, prosperity. Not just for you, but for all of us.
But first, it takes seeing the money dysmorphia. Once you see it, you can make your life choices based on clarity and truth.
So, how do you see it?
Getting to the Truth of What You Really, Really, Really, REALLY Want
Seeing your money dysmorphia, and on the flip side, your path to true freedom, requires you to get honest with yourself, first and foremost, about the life you really, really, really, REALLY want. Getting honest with yourself often requires digging deeper than the surface beliefs about what you think you want.
For example, on the surface you may think you are totally fine just getting by. You’ve gotten so used to not having much that you have resigned yourself to the belief that just getting by is all that’s possible. Or you don’t let yourself dare to dream of more than just getting by because you may be disappointed if that’s all you can have. You may even tell yourself that your desires for more aren’t “spiritual” or that if you have more someone else has to have less.
If any of that is the case, note it. Begin to consider where those beliefs came from, and if they are serving you. Most likely they are roadblocks on your path to prosperity because they aren’t what’s true. What’s true is that there is more than enough for everyone. You having more actually makes it more likely that others around you can have more too.
Or perhaps you’re focused on living the big life. You’ve got a million-dollar business. You’re drawn in by every Internet marketing ad out there promising you that you can make it big while working less.
You can have the “big life,” but first you need to get honest about where you are now and then map the path from here to there.
But, if you already have enough, you need to look at what you really need to have the life you want. Think about whether you are chasing the big life to distract yourself from the thing you really want, that you think maybe you can’t have.
Just getting by, chasing the big life, or somewhere in between…it all starts with getting honest about what you really, really, really, REALLY want.
I recommend you do this at four different levels of reality.
- Minimum to be happy.
- Minimum to be of service.
- Preferred, if you could afford it.
- No limits.
Describe your life at each of these four levels, in as much detail as you can. Where do you live? What do you eat? Where do you travel? How do you exercise? I have a program that takes you through thirty different categories to consider. You can check out the Money Map to Freedom here.
It’s important to look at each of these levels, no matter where you are now, because your truth exists on a spectrum. What you really, really, really, REALLY want isn’t a single, static thing. You are an ever-changing, evolutionary being. And you may just find that when you have all of your needs met and you are doing work you love that perhaps a more minimal life meets you fully.
Or, you may find that your dreams are so big, and your visions so clear, that you actually need a $1M (or even a $10M) company.
Once you’ve mapped out each of the levels, you can get honest about where you are now in relation to each of those levels.
Are you living a life that is below your minimum to be happy? Or maybe you’ve already got enough money to be living your preferred if you could afford it, and it’s time to stop thinking incessantly about saving more money and instead start thinking about how you can use money to buy back your time.
Once you are honest about the life and income you really, really, really, REALLY want (on all four levels) and where you are now, you can chart a path from exactly where you are now to where you want to go next.
This is the key to your path to prosperity. Seeing through the money dysmorphia. Getting real with what you need, what you already have, and how to use your TEAM resources in service to the truth.
When you know what you need, and you know what you have, and you can ask for what you need in exchange for what you have, you can never not have enough. It does require you to know what you need, which many of us don’t because of money dysmorphia. And it does require you to know what you have, which also many of us don’t because of money dysmorphia. And it does require to know how to ask, which many of us don’t because we never learned.
But, it’s time you do. Because this is your path to true prosperity.
Remembering Who You Are, Why You Are Here, and What’s Yours to Do
When I came to see my money dysmorphia and got into right relationship with time, money, and how I get paid, I was able to remember who I am, why I am here, and what’s mine to do.
It’s not an overnight process. In fact, for me, it took seven years of spiraling around and around the wheel, sometimes going all the way back down after I was already on an upswing. Partially, that’s because I had to invent the process I’ve shared with you here, and I didn’t have anyone who could see me clearly and direct me to open my eyes and make better choices.
The good news though is that each time I spiraled and returned to this process of clarity that I’ve shared with you here, more was revealed. And I never again had to let go of everything like I did in 2011. Instead, I’ve been able to let go of only that which needed to be released to make space for what was more in alignment.
Today I am living in true freedom, what I call financial liberation. My company that trains lawyers earned $3 million in revenue last year (our biggest year yet), and we’ve got a fantastic team of twenty. I no longer make decisions that compromise my truth, my generosity, or my integrity.
Best of all, I know exactly what I need, how to ask for and receive it gracefully, and how to give what I have generously (and not as a secretly disguised attempt to get something), and I remember who I am, why I’m here, what’s mine to do. To me, this is what makes life worth living.
I want this for you as well. Book a call with a Money Map Master today to find out if we can help you stop compromising and start living.