Exercises for Discovering Your Own Money Baggage

Joseph Campbell’s landmark book The Hero with a Thousand Faces presents a compelling case: that at the heart of all world cultures lives one primary story—the journey of the Hero. The Hero journeys from the ordinary world to the underworld and then reemerges with a gift for mankind.

Similarly, on the journey to discover your money baggage, you must first go down into the underworld of your past to that which is unconscious. Then, when you emerge, you can form a more conscious and fulfilling relationship to money. It is a journey of heroic proportions, a sacred journey.

This journey takes us from our ordinary world, where money is a source of suffering, to an extraordinary world, where money is aligned with and empowers our soul’s calling. It is a journey from unconsciousness to consciousness, from fear to love, from artificial control to true inner power. It is Dorothy’s journey to Oz, leaving behind the bleak black-and-white world of Kansas and exploring a new world of color and adventure and potential, only this new world is real and you want to stay.

To decide to examine your life and become consciously aware of your pain in relation to money is to begin your soul’s journey. Because money infiltrates everything we do, it is a journey that involves the entirety of your being. When we begin the journey to transform our relationship to money, we begin to rethink everything in our lives.

The moment you decide to discover your money baggage is the moment you go from bobbing on the surface of the ocean to diving down to explore the depths. Those things that hold us back, all our fears and habitual responses to life, lurk below the surface. Healing is the process of bringing these patterns up to the surface and into the light.

First, explore your history with money by writing down your childhood thoughts and memories about money. Reflect upon your earliest experiences with money. In those memories you will find two things: a blueprint for the ways you have formed your current life, and the reasons behind the specific struggles you have regarding money. Then examine how you currently relate to money to see how thoroughly your early imprinting has defined your adult world. What this process reveals will lead you to your money baggage.

Next, write down your own personal money baggage. Don’t worry about whether you get it right or wrong. First consider the stories throughout this blog, do the exercise above, and then trust the process. Your money baggage will emerge, and when it does, write it down, and then look at it in relationship to the various areas of your life: Relationships, Family, Finances, and Work.

If you are having trouble determining your money baggage, ask your spouse, partner, or good friend what they think your money baggage is. You will be amazed how clearly others see you. Use this dialog to help you discover your money baggage and don’t be defensive. Be open to hearing what the other person has to say.

Journaling can be a great way to trigger memories. Some of you may need to write out your entire life story to get to your money baggage, or write about specific money memories in detail before you can distill this information down to one simple money baggage statement. It may be helpful to write a longer version that you can then condense. Condensing your statement will help you really capture the essence of your money baggage. You should express it in a child’s language, in the simplest words you can. There may be several threads—different variations on the theme that you come up with—but ultimately, there is one, maybe two core beliefs that you believe to be true. Distill these down to their simplest form.

You will know you have your money baggage if, when you say it out loud, it catches a bit in your throat. It can be embarrassing. It brings up emotions that have been deeply hidden. It might even make you feel a bit queasy.

Once you’ve done the work, you should have a pretty good idea of what your own bleak personal “Kansas” is. Do you think counting chickens comes before family or fun? Do you believe people who have money are like Miss Gulch? Does thinking about your money baggage make you feel like the cowardly lion? Are there flying monkeys keeping you up at night worrying about money?

On your journey, you should expect to encounter obstacles, fears, tests, and disappointments. This is the juicy and interesting work of discovering yourself. And it can be a little frightening. But keep going. When you start to see the emotional baggage you have been carrying, you are beginning to care for your soul.

By drawing back the curtain you have exposed your false belief for the imposter it is. Now you are ready to articulate your new money message. You have brought your money baggage to consciousness; now it’s time to set that burden down and create the rest of your life.

Next week, we learn how to create your New Money Message.

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