For over a decade I had a successful corporate career working in all sorts of diverse businesses… big, small, private and public organisations. I made great money and did well for myself. I hoarded that money. I got assets. I got possessions. I invested. I kept earning as much as I could.
Consciously, logically and practically, I was doing what we are trained to do by society, by our parents, by teachers, by our employers, by the news, by the Government… I was building my security. It felt good to have security. I LOVE security. Building security is a very sensible thing to do and incredibly useful… given it provides a stable foundation upon which your life can sit.
Unconsciously, however, I was hoarding to protect myself. At some level, I felt that I had to amass financially as best as I could in order to:
- Meet my needs
- Exceed my needs
- Have enough for the future
- Have enough for all unforeseen circumstances
- Ensure I never had to rely on anyone (including my husband, my family and the Government), because I had a deep fear and drive that I had to be independent
- To make me feel like no one and nothing could harm me
- To feel like nothing could go wrong so long as I had financial stuff sorted and money was “on my side”
- And last but not least, to show my worth and value to society
Come my early 30s, I had exceeded many of the goals I had set for myself in my 20s and was well set up for the present moment and the future. I was financially free in many respects. I had a small mortgage on my property, but it was minimal in the scheme of things and I had more assets than debt, I had great income including promising passive income paths, and my career was lined up for a secure and financially abundant future. I never had to want for anything. On paper, I was looking pretty set. On paper, I was looking pretty free.
Now for the funny bit… I WAS NOT FINANCIALLY FREE – NOT EVEN A TINY WEENY LITTLE BIT. I WAS FINANCIALLY TRAPPED.
And, the forecast was for “More trapped-ness, with the probability of rain and a storm brewing on the horizon”.
So, how could I have had it all and not have been financially free?
What I've learnt from first-hand experience, and what I want to share with you is this:
- Financial freedom is NOT just about money
- Having all the money in the world and a mindset of fear, limitation, lack, hoarding, anxiousness and conservatism (beyond necessity) is NOT FREEDOM
- Financial freedom is, first and foremost, an attitude toward money, accurately perceiving money and your situation in relation to money, and having the personal inner power and energy which allows you to choose and behave freely in relation to money… and in alignment with what you know you need and want
- You can be financially wealthy and have literally no financial freedom within that wealth because of how you are being and WHO you are being
- You can be financially less endowed and have total financial freedom within that circumstance because of your relationship to money and other resources, with how you are being and WHO you are being.
I had plenty. And… I was constantly fearful, anxious and a total freak when it came to managing my money. I watched every penny. I spreadsheet-ed, budgeted, feared not having enough (which in retrospect is hilarious because I always had far more than enough and there was no evidence at all to suggest any need for fear). I held many conscious and subconscious negative beliefs that completely limited me in all respects with regards to how I felt about my security, money and also in relation to what options I believed were or weren't available to me in terms of choices and directions I could take in order to improve my life. For example, I wanted a different lifestyle, different ways of working, different types of work, more personal freedom, more time, more space to explore what work and things in this world might light me up and give me a sense of meaning, more inner peace and relaxation in regard to my present and my future, a more expansive feeling of being alive in this amazing world and being able to explore it. Technically, I had resources and means which supported this possibility, but there were NO doors open to me, and NO feelings aligned in any way to this… because my entire paradigm was SHUT DOWN (that is – my beliefs, thoughts, feelings and my resulting actions were not conducive to financial freedom in any way). I had plenty, and I felt trapped. I had all my needs met and it was never enough for me to feel at ease. I never wanted for anything and yet felt like I couldn't risk one single thing to experience more of what I felt life could possibly offer me. All of that toxicity came from inside of me. It wasn't “truth”, it wasn't “reality” and it wasn't the only paradigm available to me. But, at that time, it was the only reality I knew and it felt like the truth.
If I'm totally honest, I would say that money OWNED ME.
Saying that statement now makes me sad for the woman I was back then. I feel sad for her because I remember how it felt to feel owned by circumstance. I feel sad for her because she didn't know that true freedom in life doesn't came from outside of you. I feel sad for her because she didn't know how to enjoy the blessings of her life, as she was totally fogged in by her own warped perspective.
At that time I wouldn't let go of my iron grip on security, not for anything. For many years I was not willing to let go of it even to do what I knew my soul needed at every level – space to explore more meaningful and soul-aligned work… space to take a few risks and to see what might be possible if I redesigned my life more consciously.
Financial freedom to me at the time meant more money and more options, and I wanted to build that freedom on a shaky foundation, hoping that somehow more of what I already had would be the key to setting me free.
Unfortunately, my attitude, no matter how much money, time or options I got, was NOT one of financial freedom. My attitude (based on my beliefs, arising thought patterns and resulting feelings) would never allow for me to feel free. EVER. Something had to give.
You cannot experience something as new and different if you continue to view life through the same old lens, dragging your old limiting beliefs with you into new experiences.
That was before.
Then I had my spiritual, mental and emotional “epiphanies” in my early 30s, sounds cliche I know. (If you've read Pinch Me and Going Out on a Limb you know the details, if not, you can check those out if personal transformation books interest you). I started to walk through my fears and through the anxiety about creating change and reaching for different ways of living, working, and being in this world.
Why, or how, all of a sudden did I decide to release the iron grip? In summary, I realised I could carry on for the next 5, 10, 20 or 30 years being how I was being, doing what I was doing, amassing as I was, and there was going to be an extremely high likelihood that I would find myself in the exact same place just slightly older and more worn down (feeling empty, feeling trapped, wiling my days away waiting to find courage and not feeling free at all). The analytical and planning side of my mind just forecasted the likely position I would end up in if I stayed on the same trajectory, both in how I was being and what I was doing with my career, money and lifestyle.
I realised I had to shift my inner paradigm in order to shift my outer reality. From all I'd read and learnt, both from a high performance/personal growth and spiritual perspective, all pointed in this direction – showing me I had to learn to set myself free internally in how I was viewing myself and my life.
It's hilarious now to look back at how I was being about it all and what I ended up doing… because I walked away from it all (step by step over several years). I left the career at first, then I sold the house and then I sold every single possession I owned, except suitcases, and I ended up going full throttle into a new way of living. That was pretty radical for the person I was, the person who labored over even small changes and clung to security. The changes happened through 2010-2012. And it was just a couple of months ago (2.5 years later!!) that I had finally had the major realisation from which this blog stems. It was a lightning bolt moment that came to me. The realisation was this…
I am more financially free NOW than I have ever been, with LESS now than I had before – go figure!
I was shocked to realise this and laughed out loud to myself. It is hilarious to me. In summary…
- I have less amassed resources than I had back then, and yet now I am financially free.
- I own less materially than I owned back then, and yet now I am financially free.
- I make less income than I made back then, and yet now I am financially free.
- I have less perceived “certainty” in every respect that I had back then, and yet now I am financially, mentally and emotionally free.
Having sold everything, and having chosen to travel and live nomadically (which so far has meant 3-12 months in different countries), having built a location-independent business around my deepest passion, I have come to the most peaceful, relaxed and happy place I have ever been in my life. I am finally fully self-expressed. I feel at home, within myself, no matter where I am. I feel free. I feel excited and deeply grateful to be alive. I feel safe and at ease. I feel provided for, by myself and by the Universe. I live from love, not fear. I am not afraid to depend on others when I need to. In the face of adversity I know how to access inner peace and can stand with whatever life has served up and know with 100% conviction that all is well and the Universe has my back.
Does that mean I always act on what I know and practise what I preach? Nope. I'm just like you. Sometimes I do well, other times I falter. It doesn't matter how many times we muck up or struggle, it only matters WHO WE CHOOSE TO BE in those moments.
Does all of this mean life is easy? Heck no! I just accept that we all learn lessons in life and that challenges are the vehicle through which we are gifted that learning.
And, I can hardly relate to the woman who had it all and felt trapped. Because now, with less than I had before, I feel more abundant and I see abundance everywhere, even in places where others might see lack. I ask for what I need, and it somehow it always seems to show up in one form or another, at some point, right when I need it – be it help, ideas, new people, resources, new clients, new opportunities, or answers.
I look back now at the leaps of faith I took, and realise that while seemingly risky, deep down my intuition was telling me that the risks were entirely warranted, that it was essential for me to take the journey into redesigning my life in a way that felt more aligned for me, and that anything I risked financially would come back to me, and I would always powerfully create whatever I needed in this life. It was a deep knowing well below the fear and tough decisions I had to make… but it sat there like a calling forth, beckoning me to trust in myself and my nudges, and to trust in the Universe.
And of course, as synchronistically as soul journeys play out for each of us, that calling forth into leaps of faith, taking a few risks, redesigning my life, is the one thing that finally changed everything for me in relation to money, freedom and abundance…
Financial freedom does not stem from how much money you have. It has everything to do with your relationship with money, with resources, with the Universe, with opportunity and possibility, and it stems from your accurate and truthful perspective that you are an INSIDE OUT CREATOR who has the power to generate what you need when you choose to get out of fear and get into your heart, to get out of what doesn´t serve you and to trust in the flow of what feels right to you. When you stop doing things that you have outgrown, when you cease to stay stuck within that which doesn't align to your emerging passions, values and intuition, and you start trusting in that which sparks a flame within you, things begin to shift at every level.
From there, freedom emerges, not in your circumstances alone, but within yourself, and guess what… because you're an INSIDE OUT CREATOR, when you create that freedom inside yourself from a shift in perspective, then you start to feel and see that freedom outside of yourself as well.
After having this whole realisation recently, I also became clear that this was one of the major personal life lessons I had to learn… for this phase of my life at least, and for my soul journey overall. My astrology, numerology and Akashic Record readings all point to learning in this financial area being key for my life path. I didn't know what that meant or what it would look like, until now. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! It was this lesson about money and financial freedom in action in the past few years that has allowed me to transform my lifestyle to what it is now. It is not by luck that I live the way I do. It is by design. And I am very clear on one thing… it is this lesson I have learnt that created a shift in my energy to allow for more abundance on all levels to enter my life experience. For through these inner shifts in my paradigm, and outer changes in my lifestyle, I have more time, more space, more travel, more clients, more opportunities to grow my business, increasing creative inspirations flowing for my books, coaching and retreats, increasing like-minded people showing up in my personal network and professional network, more deep connection, more fulfilling experiences, increasing spiritual guidance breaking through the noise of my mind into my awareness, increasing income, and most importantly more inner peace, more personal freedom and more New World success than I could have previously imagined to be possible.
We create our lives and outcomes from our own energy and we attract with that very same energy. The Universe is not listening to your words alone. If your words are backed by contradictory beliefs, thoughts and feelings, you will find yourself stuck. What I learnt from Dr Wayne Dyer's wise words is this..
You don't get what you want. You get what you are.
So it is important to stop every now and then to ask yourself what energy you are bringing into the world each day. Look at what you say you want, and then look at your overall attitude and feelings toward it. Look for any contradiction, and be willing to open yourself up to the idea of aligning your beliefs, thoughts and feelings more fully with what you actually want to experience in your life. Maybe there is some room for greater alignment?
Bottom line is that you can't create sustainable and enjoyable financial freedom if your attitude toward money and freedom is warped, because while you may generate more financial resources, you'll simply drag your toxic old paradigm about money and freedom with you, and find yourself in a different version of the same old trapped reality. And as it is for finances, so it is for health, relationships, career, lifestyle, love, family, education, travel, or any other area of your life or goals. This journey in life is asking us all to wake up to how we truly create, from the inside out. We are being asked to wake up to the inner blocks we have, to clean them up, and to realise we can create all the same external outcomes we've always been capable of creating, but we can do so from a healthy, free, light, expansive and empowered inner paradigm, which means we can ENJOY what we create in whole new ways.
With love, Bernadette