Mirror of the Soul
Received wisdom has it that our eyes are the mirror of the soul.
Arguably, however, the true mirror of the soul is your money.
Poets tell us that our eyes are the mirror of the soul. Arguably, however, your money is far more effective at this, if less romantic. Unfortunately, the connection between your money and your spirit is not immediately apparent. It is certainly not talked about in the same way as ‘you are what you eat’. The way we produce and consume food, for instance, receives far more attention than our spiritual health and the way we produce and consume money.
The money mirror of the soul in practice
If your body is in part a mirror of the food you eat, then your spirit is also a reflection of your money. I found a deep reluctance in clients to explore their spending. Usually, we would agree about the need to know where their money is going. They would promise to work on it. However, often this didn’t happen. They would express their antipathy for the exercise and provide several excuses. For some, they had no system or regular practice to provide the process they needed. Others told me it was a question of time. However, I have come to understand that there is a deeper reason for this reluctance.
The mirror of your life
The flow of money out of your account tells the story of how you live. For my client Drew, that was too painful a story to face. Accounting for her spending, analysing it and categorising it brought home the reality of her story. It needed deep compassion and support for her to look at her life before she could look at her money. For Drew, money was a mirror for the soul. It showed in uncomfortable facts how she existed instead of living or thriving.
You may well instinctively know this already. However, seeing it in figures that do not lie can often be disheartening. It’s enough to turn anyone off from the work of accounting for your expenditure. And of course, knowing where you stand personally and financially provides that firm foundation for making informed decisions about your present and your future growth and development.
Lenses before the mirror of the soul
You compound the situation when you look into the money mirror of the soul through lenses. You may be using many lenses at the same time, which confuses even more. The most common lens is that of security. Your financial situation may appear bad even though it is probably strong enough to enable you to live well and even thrive. Some of my most joyful moments as a financial planner came when I helped elderly clients look in the mirror after ‘adjusting’ their security lens.
I’ll never forget Eleanor, who came to me shortly after becoming a widow. She had little understanding of her finances and was afraid to spend money on herself or her family. I helped her to see she was more than secure, thanks to her late husband’s prudence. She then gave herself permission to go out into the world and live, in style.
The lens of power is often the most difficult to handle. You look into your financial mirror through the lens of power and judge that you are powerless. You feel you have no status or control in your life; this can be demoralising and repressive. Comparison, of course, kicks in here, often making the situation even worse. However, the lens of power comes with the assumption that your financial worth judges you. If you consider your net worth to be weak, the distorting glass of power and status reflects someone with little or no status, worth or influence.
Love, generosity, freedom and autonomy
A few years ago a friend wrote that ‘In this world, we are living through a time of both great darkness and light. We have war, and corporate control, alongside a great spiritual emergence. It is time to choose which collective timeline you want to take.’ The first timeline relates to the lens of power. However, I sense that more and more people are opting for the second timeline and the lens of love and generosity.
Renowned researcher and commentator Brené Brown defines spirituality as ‘recognising and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected by a power greater than all of us and that our connection to that power and one another is grounded in love and compassion.’ It follows that many more individuals look at their money mirror today through the lens of love, kindness and generosity.
- ‘If only I would win the lottery jackpot I would …’
- ‘When I get my inheritance, I’ll…’
- ‘When my bonus comes through I’ll…’
- ‘If only my job paid more I could…’
Freedom and autonomy is the final lens through which you might see your reflection in the money mirror of the soul. So often we see our financial situation in terms of the power of money to give us choices in our lives. No wonder the clients I described at the beginning of this chapter were reluctant to complete their financial statements. It hits you hard when the figures show you exist rather than living, with all your income disappearing on life’s essentials and nothing left over for escaping for the daily grind and monotony.
The lens of freedom is responsible for the comments I listed above. You view your soul in the money mirror through the lens of liberty which traps you into thinking that freedom comes down to money. Looking at ourselves in the mirror of our money through the lens of freedom seems to trap us in anything but liberty.
The solution – know yourself.
Do you always see yourself in the money mirror of the soul? Is your reflection distorted by those lenses of security, power, generosity and freedom? If so, you do not see yourself for who you indeed are. That’s a shame. The real you has so much more to offer than the reflection you see in your money mirror.
Tasha Eurich is an organisational psychologist specialising in the field of self-awareness. In her view, self-awareness is ‘a remarkably rare quality.’ Instead, ‘for most people, it’s easier to choose self-delusion – the antithesis of self-awareness – over the cold hard truth.’ The result is ‘a growing gap between how we see ourselves and what we really are.’ Knowing now what you know about your money acting as a mirror of your soul and those distorting lenses, it is not surprising that this gap exists and is growing. Money feeds your self-delusion to your detriment. Becoming self-aware, as well as financially aware, helps you deal with those distorting lenses. It also helps you to preserve and reinforce your integrity.
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