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Do you know any cheapskates—those people who hold so tight to their money, they kill those dead presidents all over again in their grip? Beyond being frugal, cheapskates are downright excessive in their non-spending habits. To be clear, there’s a difference between budgeting—or being broke—and being straight-up cheap. Cheapskates are easy to spot; they’re also hard to be around for any length of time.
But what about the other kinds of misers? Using money’s a good example because it’s so familiar to us, but there are lots of ways to be scrimp through life. After a whole bunch of setbacks, I finally put together this list, which is by no means exhaustive, but it’ll help you spot similar tendencies in your own life and offer ways to do a 180º by turning them into opportunities for growth. As the saying goes, acknowledging the issue is the first step toward changing it.
If you catch yourself in any of these examples, consider them invitations to open up the flow in that area. Flow, by the way, is a marker of prosperity!
1. You resist compliments. This applies both to the giving and receiving ends. How well you take a compliment is directly related to your ability to embrace abundance. Have you ever been in close proximity to a truly attractive person—whether it’s a pleasant demeanor, great energy, a beautiful appearance. etc—and thought as much to yourself, but didn’t say anything to the person? This piece is natural enough, but the miserly aspect attaches itself if the follow-up thought is a negative thought like that person’s probably shallow, no one’s really that nice, what a bitch, or something equally base. When you find yourself energetically whacking someone in this way, it’s likely an attempt not only to bring them down to size, but to keep you stuck, safe and comfortable in your corner.
THE 180º To open up in this area, it’s worth remembering how great it feels to be seen and surprised by random kindnesses. And knowing you have the power to do that for someone will bless you right back. The next time you’re around someone who’s truly attractive in any way, offer them a genuine compliment on it. You’ll feel good at the gift you’ve given and you will have widened your world by moving into it with grace and good intention!
2. You hide the truth. Lying and willfully hiding the truth can take on many faces. A big-faced lie is one that involves keeping your story to yourself. Or worse: downplaying what you know to be true. There was a viral video circulating recently of a young woman sharing her story of being abused at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend. She blamed herself and suffered a long time as a result. She finally opened up and told her story. It was painful at first, but as she shared her experience, she touched more and more people by her example and encouraged other girls to come forward to get the help they needed to heal. Your story might not be as tragic as that, but there are experiences you’ve had that can help light the way for someone struggling and feeling alone right now. Maybe you think it’s too much or too little to tell what you’ve been through, but I guarantee you, holding on to it won’t benefit anyone.
THE 180º The next time you find yourself with an opportunity to open up about who you are and where you’ve been—in a way that feels right and appropriate to do so—then go for it. If I had never begun to share my stories about various issues of failure and feeling small, I’d still be stuck with them, too afraid to stand up and be seen as mySelf.
3. You always apologize. Offering a heartfelt apology that takes ownership for having hurt someone is right and good, but it becomes an act of self-harm when we take up the cause of apologizing for the bad behavior of other people. Do you ever catch yourself saying ‘sorry’ for conditions beyond your control? Do you position yourself as the ‘bigger’ person by apologizing when you don’t really mean it? There are times when apologizing for what we can’t control is an act of healing—and even spiritual practice. i.e., the Hawaiian practice of ho’oponopono or tonglin, which comes to us from ancient Eastern traditions. General sorryness, however, just won’t do. Habitual apologizing sets up an expectation that either you’ll be blamed for something, that things will always go wrong, or that people can’t be counted on to be responsible for their actions. This approach robs us of having higher expectations for ourselves and also shortchanges the experience of others when we rush in to manage or diffuse situations unnecessarily.
THE 180º The next time you feel yourself ramping up to take the heat for someone else’s mess, experiment with keeping your peace instead. Resist the urge to manage and fix by breathing, remaining silent, or simply remembering that you don’t have to handle other people’s problems, period. This act alone will leave you open to doing something more productive with your time and energy, and there’s absolutely nothing to be sorry for about that!
4. You’re always fine. Nobody’s ever always fine. Just last week, I was pissed with someone who—let’s just say she could have been a whole lot kinder. I responded by telling her straight out that I didn’t appreciate her attitude and in the days that followed, I retreated into my own shady attitude whenever I was around her. I made no secret of my lack of feeling for her and it honestly wasn’t my shiniest moment. But no one could accuse me of hiding how I felt: I was not fine. In hindsight, I could have handled it better; I could have been mature; I could have been bigger. I wasn’t. And, interestingly enough, I’m fine with that.
THE 180º Pretending we’re okay when we’re not will work against us if we don’t honor our feelings as they arise. There are plenty of ways to channel our feelings, and it’s crucial that we do. You don’t have to throw shade—or a tantrum—in order to express yourself. More to the point, giving yourself access to the full range of your emotions allows you to engage life with greater self-awareness, confidence, presence and flexibility.
5. You leave the party first. There are some people who live to party. They show up early, hang out tailgating with a huge crew in the parking lot, then they stay through the show until the sweepers move them along. Then there are the ones who film the fun on their phones, removing themselves from the moment; they watch their watches, trying to guess when the show will be over. They don’t stay for the encore and rush to their cars in an attempt to beat the traffic back home. Adopting the mindset that there’s something or someone to ‘beat’ and that we have to make it out before everyone else lands us right in the middle of competition and scarcity thinking.
THE 180º I used the concert example, but this one applies across lots of different areas Instead of contracting into a preemptive us-against-them defense, try bringing yourself to the beauty of the moment. Competition, racing the clock and cutting other people off takes us out of present time and only steers us into more of the same.
6. You can’t forgive. Who was it who said holding on to grudges is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die? Whoever it was, they were right. That woman I was upset with the other week, well, I only drove myself into a deeper hole by not letting go of my grudge. She went along frolicking through the tulips while I was left behind to kick rocks and pout.
THE 180º Forgiveness calls us to truly let go. It also opens an opportunity to resolve old issues that need to be released. It could be that we’ve carried around residual pain that’s collected for so long, it turns up as the chip on our shoulder or the baggage we drag into our current relationships. To open the flow of forgiveness, start with yourself. Give yourself a break for being human. Honor your process, whatever it is. Look for ways to heal what’s really behind the trigger. When you do, it automatically cultivates more compassion for your own vulnerability, and forgiving the other person becomes that much easier.
7. You don’t ask for help. There’s a hitch to defining oneself as a so-called ‘strong’ person. For one thing, it means you don’t need anyone’s help. Ever. Because needing help is a sign of weakness. And being weak means you’re not strong. Being strong for strong’s sake is overrated. It’s hollow, and damn if it doesn’t do us a huge disservice. Being strong—embodying strength in the fullest sense of the word—encompasses the ability to be weak, and wrong, and out of control on occasion. It creates space for whatever’s going on in any given moment.
THE 180º Opening up to vulnerability is what connects us. Being strong in the face of it all will only separate you from others, especially if what you really want is to collapse in the safety of a hug. Strength comes in honoring the fact that your needs aren’t an imposition and in trusting that people actually do want to help. Roll this one out there slowly; realizing you don’t have to do it all, after all, can come as a shock to the system.
8. You hoard. When’s the last time you came into information that you knew people would benefit from, but you kept it to yourself? Maybe it was a hot website, a great new song, a life hack that would save people time, money or frustration, yet you didn’t share it. Maybe there’s a feeling that sharing information will deplete your resources somehow, or that you’ll be less appreciated if you turn the spotlight on someone else. I’ve hit on this one more times than I can count, and what’s funny is that I’ve never gone hungry, been tossed out on the street, or passed over (as far as I know!) because I shared information I found useful—information that also came to me freely, I might add. The idea that giving or sharing means there’s less left for us paints a pretty bleak picture where abundance and life’s ability to support us is concerned.
THE 180º Think about the last time someone shared a simple kindness with you. Being on the receiving end probably inspired feelings of gratitude and appreciation at the thoughtfulness of a friend. It also probably didn’t inspire an urge in you to run off with the information hell-bent on sabotaging your generous friend’s life at every turn. Prying ourselves free from the grip of competition and scarcity opens us to the flow of collaboration while reminding that we actually benefit from helping each other without strings attached.
9. You. Can’t. Even. Be. Bothered. Growing up, I always marveled at the cool kids. Unaffected by the pains and entanglements the rest of us faced, they seemed to glide by on an air of being above it all. Cool kids never seemed to express their emotion and always seemed to be in the right places at the right times. They were seen, appreciated and unfazed by the adoration. As a sensitive and awkward type, I never knew how to gauge my emotions to appear cool and, somehow, simultaneously, hot. Still, I wanted to be someone other than me. I wanted to have it all together. And this one’s a doozie on the miser scale. Being above it all is a guaranteed way to avoid genuine closeness and connection on the ground, in the real world, where actual people live.
THE 180º That saying ‘get real’ is more than a notion. In fact, consider it a call to action. Getting real means giving up the mask of impenetrability, it means showing up to our lives in ways that engage and reward us with deeper bonds than we ever thought possible. We shed the persona of indifference in every act of authenticity. Doesn’t matter if your attempts aren’t perfect. If they’re heartfelt, they’re real, and that will more than suffice for now.
10. You think you’re unworthy. You have a longstanding passion to do, have, experience or become something, but you don’t go for it out of fear and a persistent feeling that ‘it’s so big,’ you just can’t handle it and feel unprepared to handle it all. Your calling overwhelms you so much, it sends you right back to bed. Those are the bitter and beautiful ends of having a vision: you can see the impact it would have, but the path to getting there is unclear at best. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently said we don’t have to see the whole staircase before we take the next step. And how about Marian Williamson who reminds us that it’s already in us to be brilliant, that it was our job to stop playing small. Playing small is the tipoff that you’re scrimping through life because you don’t trust it, life itself, enough to support your most persistent desire—the desire to fully and truly be you.
THE 180º Getting out of the unworthy rut begins with intention. Just like your passion is uniquely yours, you’re born with resilience. It’s in us to keep moving lifeward. In the days ahead, pay attention to people, places, and things that offer you an opportunity toward taking a next step—and take it. Remind yourself that The Journey only happens one step at a time. We must commit again and again to that single step because it’s only ever a single step, no matter how big the vision. And as you take each one watch your momentum and sense of self-worth build right alongside your dream. .
Experiencing our lives through a scarcity filter or miser’s mentality is a shrinking affair; it only pulls us deeper into our heads and negative thinking; it draws the juice right out of our veins, leaving us brittle and brooding at the edges. Moving with the rhythm of life is what will keep us flowing and open. It builds our faith by inviting us to trust its process, even we feel upended in its current. Being alive and conscious demands our faith, courage and willingness to not know every damn thing all the time. Allowing ourselves to be immersed in that stream will strip us of our petty notions and flow us into everything we need.
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