Over this past summer I decided that the I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money) support group would use the 12 steps used by other support groups.
The 12 steps were designed for those struggling with addiction. In applying the steps to money, you may take some time to determine what areas of your life represent a money addiction. Aside from shopping or gambling, it could manifest as addiction to checking your balances, constantly worrying about money, avoiding dealing with money, nagging your spouse/partner, giving too much to others or some other troubling behavior which may not be wrong, but may not be healthy.
How can you tell if it’s an addiction?
Is it helping you? Does it offer a benefit?
If not, why do it?
Can you stop it?
I’ve often wondered, as a person of faith, how atheists and agnostics navigate the 12 steps, many of which have strong “Higher Power” components.
Several participants in the last meeting shared that your “Higher Power” (HP going forward) could be represented by any number of ideals, not necessarily a god figure.
It could be your higher self (from a spiritual/metaphysical standpoint), your super ego (from Freudian psychology), positive energy, a community of respectful companions, your Guardian Angel, a sense of pure love and so on.
With the definition of HP open ended, our discussion about acknowledging what energy or force may be available, willing and able to help us manage our finances took off.
Some of the agenda items included questions such as: Do you believe your HP can and will help you? Why and how?
Many responded that your HP can and will help you if you listen to it. Meditation or simply moments of solitude can help you turn your ear to the HP of your understanding. These practices prepare you to welcome your HP because it will not enter where it is not invited.
Our HP may let us struggle if struggle may offer some benefit, so we must be careful not to get discouraged if things aren’t super easy. In fact, struggle brings our attention to the importance of accepting imperfection and prompts us to nurture forgiveness, patience and loving kindness (towards ourselves and others); after all, we all make mistakes with money.
Some of us shared experiences of asking (praying to) our HP for help managing our money including asking for help finding a job/clients, keeping free from temptation, and learning how to forgive, let go, and move forward.
Acknowledging a HP seems to help bring a sense of calm and increase focus. We may ask for clarity, hope, patience, peace, guidance, wisdom, truth, tools, people/connections/relationships, and healthy boundaries (to know the difference between helping and enabling, so we can share our financial resources but not give to the point where it threatens our financial security).
But once you’ve asked for help, listened for guidance, it’s important to actually do something or you risk staying stuck in fear, ambivalence or what I call “wandering and squandering.”
We’re all busy, but we can be busy not really doing anything. Once you take even one small step towards the financial situation you desire, you’ll feel so much better!
The next meeting is Saturday, November 3 10:30am when we’ll discuss Step 3: Turn over your will and life to the Higher Power of your understanding.
I also offer the 12 Steps as a year-long personal financial coaching program called Financial Freedom Makeover. If interested, let’s talk!