Getting Debt-Free, Partners We Attract, Distorted Self-Perception, Embracing Change, Empowering Yourself In Today’s Economy

Earlier this year I liquidated an investment to pay off a few thousand dollars in credit card debt, and felt much freer and lighter after doing so.  I’m not a big shopper and I rarely use credit cards. I feel blessed to have little debt except my home and car, because I have friends who have $30,000 – $100,000 in credit card debt *yikes* Of course, these same friends have the latest computer equipment and the newest electronic toys and a much more social lifestyle than I do. They also earn less income and, interestingly, they also talk lots about how money is tight and they often tell me to visit websites like to secure my own finances, which in retrospect sounds like they are talking to themselves. It reminds me when I made lots less income in my 30’s and I had to have the newest everything. Even if it was a hardship to get it. Having said that, my credit card debt back then never exceeded $5,000, although at that time it seemed like a whole lot. I bought lots more clothes back then, and they often ended up in the back of my closet, unworn. A few years of that and I caught on that I was shopping to fill something within me, something that was never filled by shopping. I’m glad I got the lesson early. I’m excited now, I love having everything paid off – it’s like having a fresh start… infinite potential! Now I’m getting excited about saving up a nest egg, and it’ll be fun to see how much I can get it to grow and to plan really fun things with it.

A few of the couples I know who are on the credit-card-go-round tend to place the blame for their financial woes on the spending habits of their partner. They can’t understand how they can have a partner who is so irresponsible. Some of them have specific ideas on how much income their partner should earn as well. My thoughts on that are – always keep dollars separate in a relationship. That way it’s never about money. I used to joke and say that the way to have a successful relationship is to keep sex and dollars out of it – those are the only topics that are ever argued about. Many a truth is said in jest!

To whoever points the finger at their partner for lack of financial smarts, I say – how do you think you attracted this person, who has so many qualities you judge? Since like attracts like or, more appropriately said, since we attract into our experience those whom we vibrationally resonate with, what have you been thinking about that attracted this person to you and that keeps this person in your experience?

In much of my counseling, I’m asked:  “Why can’t I find a partner who thinks like I do? Why are all the men so selfish? I can’t find a spiritual man, there are none around. They’re all hypocrites or they’re players or they have no ambition or are afraid of commitment.”

Since we see the world through a filter of who WE are, we might ask ourselves why these are the types of men we attract into our lives. You’re either attracting others who are just like you – vibrational match and all that – or you’re attracting more of what you’ve been spending your time thinking about and focusing on.

I see spiritual men everywhere I go, and I sit next to them at church and at discussion groups and conferences all the time. Lots of these are the same men I’ve heard others complain about. I have great discussions with these guys and don’t find any faults with them. I know we each bring out different parts of our friends’ personalities, so it’s entirely possible for me to have a different take on someone that another does. But then I’m not looking at them with any hidden agenda, such as is he movie star handsome, what kinda car does he drive, will this be the one I marry, does he earn enough money to support me, will he be a good father to my children…

Once I learned – at 21 – that if I make enough money to support myself, I’ll have absolute freedom, I trained for a good job and stopped pooling dollars in a relationship.   Period.

My idea now is that I see no need to cohabit with anyone. If I was seeking a relationship, I’d like him to be financially self sufficient, with enough income so we can do things together and he can pay his own way. I’d like him to have a flexible work schedule so he could travel with me sometimes. I’d like him to enjoy having his own place, and to respect my privacy just as I’d respect his. I’d look to him for companionship and fun, not to be a handyman, not to fulfill any emptiness I might have inside, nor to make up for my deficiencies. If he lost his job, I’d hope he was responsible enough and clever enough to get another means of income going, or that he’d made some preparation for it in advance.

My experience is that I attract people into my life based on how I see myself, people who have much the same strengths and weaknesses I do. I believe we all attract into our experience the people who are most like we see ourselves. So the question becomes – how do you see yourself?

I’m rereading a book from 1975 called The Structure of Magic by Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder, It’s about the therapeutic effects of language and what has come to be known as neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and how we get programmed by the language we use and how our perception is programmed and distorted by what we’re taught is the norm. It’s one reason I try to be mindful about the written and spoken word – I’ve learned the power of it. A good example is someone who is a really neat and valuable person, like my friend Darla, but has been programmed to believe she’s a loser, so she acts like she’s a loser and all her talk about being a loser finally gets to you and you have to cut her off. She can’t get past apologizing for imagined deficiencies and pretty soon you’re tired of hearing it because she’s convinced you to start seeing her through her own filter, which isn’t a pretty picture.

The book asks: “How is it possible for different human beings faced with the same world to have such different experiences? Our understanding is that this difference follows primarily from differences in (the model they grew up with.)

Thus, the question becomes: How is it possible for human beings to maintain an impoverished model which causes them pain in the face of a multi-valued, rich and complex world? The difficulty is not that they are making the wrong choice, but that they do not have enough choices – because they don’t have a wide and richly focused image of the world.

One mechanism which we can use either to cope effectively or to defeat ourselves is Deletion. Deletion is a process by which we selectively pay attention to certain dimensions of our experience and exclude others. Deletion reduces the world to proportions which we feel capable of handling. The reduction may be useful in some contexts and yet be the source of pain for us in others.” Wow.

My friend Darla distorted and deleted my perception of her so much that it changed how I felt and I no longer wanted to be around her. She quit a five year job she detested, and instead of going right out to find another, she thought she’d take it easy and see what else came her way. During this time, she didn’t look for a job, although she had house and car payments to be made. When she finally got in such dire straights that she was in danger of being foreclosed on, I asked her why she didn’t go apply to work at Home Depot or WalMart or one of them. She said she couldn’t, because they drug tested and it would show up that she smoked pot. I asked her how she felt about the consequences of prioritizing buying pot instead of paying her mortgage, or instead of cleaning up her system so she could pass a drug test. She shrugged and said, “I dunno.” This isn’t a 14 year old, this woman is 42 years old. She’d allowed herself to be emotionally devastated by losing a job she quit in the first place. It was the only real job she’d ever had.

I told her, it doesn’t have to feel so final, like it’s only one event and then it’s over. Life is a process and it’s helpful to look at it as an ongoing process. You’ll have lots of chances to reconsider decisions about where to work. It took years for me to realize that I wasn’t going to just have one job or one career, or one man, or one apartment, or one car or one pet.  When I first began to see that everything was apt to change every couple of years, at first it frightened me and made me feel insecure. Oh, no, how will I live? Will I end up being a bag lady? Will I have to get married and trade sex for room and board??

I also began to look at it as a temporary thing, which also made me afraid and insecure. At first. Then I began appreciating more and feeling more grateful for what I had when I had it. When I went years later from being afraid when things were temporary, to feeling hopeful things were temporary, I began to feel more free and relaxed.  That ultimately helped me attract a better experience each next time. There will always be lots of of chances to reconsider your decisions and make better ones whenever you feel it’s time. You can always choose again.

The problem is seldom that we don’t have the correct vision of what we want, the problem is that we hold ourselves back from our good by our resistant thoughts on other topics. How do resistant thoughts about family and rent and future housing affect the kind of job you attract? Who knows how, I stopped caring “how”, but my experience is that it does. I had to get right with lots of things in my life before I had the relatively easy flowing life I have now. Each time I thought I’d gotten clear, I was called back to the battlefront again to face something I’d overlooked and needed to work through again. I was real slow in getting it. I still am sometimes.

I suggested to Darla that meditation might be helpful and she countered that she didn’t think it was possible to meditate yourself out of a situation, otherwise no one would have died in concentration camps, and people around the world wouldn’t be starving.  I told her I wasn’t suggesting she could meditate her way out of trouble.

I told her meditation is simply a daily practice to relax and release resistant thought a couple of times a day. Meditation doesn’t replace action, it doesn’t replace anything. Concentration camps and starving communities take a lot of mass consciousness pre-paving to get to that crisis point; it doesn’t happen overnight.  And you don’t meditate anything away.

If you meditate regularly, you’re more likely to have organized thoughts.
When you have organized thoughts, you’re more likely to have less uncertainty.
When you have less uncertainty, you have less fear.
When you have less fear, you have more trust.
When you have more trust, you’ll be directed to true guidance.
When you’re connected to true guidance, you feel empowered.
When you feel empowered, you empower others.

And a community of empowered individuals does not get led to concentration camps and they will find a way to feed themselves.  And it all begins with paying attention to where you are, and to where you want to end up.

RELATED: Andrea’s Meditation Process and Links