A thought dawned on me – I don't put myself first in my own life. That's quite likely true for most people, there are so many life demands. Most of the demands we respond to are a call for love. A call for love from other people such as family and friends. We know that if we don't answer that call then they will get hurt. The only time we really get hurt is when we feel the withdrawal of love.
The call for love is how we get love, not only from family and friends, but also within our work. We want to be seen as doing a good job and be rewarded.
These aren't the only ways in which we can't put ourselves first in our own life. The other way is when we put money first. For my whole life I thought I had to. In fact, I wanted to cheat it. I thought if I could earn or have enough money from a crazy pants lottery win, that I would become free. It's what we call financial freedom.
I heard spiritual teachers talk about freeing yourself from being a slave to money. I thought that's fine for those rich people to talk about, but when you're trying to keep a flat over your head, it sucks to worry about money at the end of every month. So like everyone else who can't live on the side of a mountain and eat bean-curd, I put money first. Took jobs I didn't want, put up with crap from people, worked crazy hours, all thinking one day I would make it and be free.; 'The American dream'.
I was money’s bitch. The problem is that at the end of every money transaction is a person.
When you need money you feel powerful towards other people and you can become everyone else's bitch. On top of that is the resentment of having to spend on stuff you don't want to and guilt when you buy stuff you do want. All the time advertising tells you to spend money to feel better about the whole thing. Money is an addiction when you put it before yourself. You may think it’s an act of survival, but I tell you this, I have had plenty of rich clients who resent paying bills and feel broke all the time. That feeling when you buy something for the first time is a big deal.
My family didn't have any money, so I was working weekends from the age of 13. But it was when I saved up and bought my 50cc motor bike that my relationship with money started to change. It bought me freedom. I have been chasing that hit in various ways ever since. But the drive is an addiction, not the root to freedom, and you learn this to be true when you put it before your wellbeing. Before time with your kids, before your health, before your vibrancy as a person.
The belief that stability or enough money will buy you your freedom is a lie. Freedom is a state of mind.
The first course of correction is to be in control, of your money. Make sure your life is covered. Then in every decision ask yourself, does this light you up or feel like a drag? What feels heavy try and change. Hard if it’s your job, but at least find a way to shift your mindset about it.
Putting yourself first in your own life is liberating. It makes the world a better place for all.