I am a descendant of the first black millionaire in the Caribbean, George Stiebel. The grand home he built in the late 1800’s still stands as a national landmark in the capital city of Kingston, Jamaica. His name is etched above the huge brick oven in what used to be the kitchen and is now a bakery.
As a result, my last name was well known in certain circles and associated with wealth. I remember a friend once asking me to lend her $600 to pay her rent when we were in college. I laughed heartily and asked her why she thought I would have that kind of money to lend her and she said “You name Stiebel. You must have plenty money”.
The truth is, we did have a very comfortable childhood. My parents had worked hard to provide us with all the “right” things. A good education, piano and dance lessons. We lived in one of the best neighborhoods and went to the best schools.
After my younger brother (their 4th child) came along, my mother quit her nursing job to care for us full time. When I was 10, they started their own real estate company after my father got fired from his job as an insurance salesman. Ever practical, my mother reminisces “We chose real estate as a business because it didn’t require any overhead to start up, I knew your father was a good salesman and he had good connections”.
When I was 13, my parents got separated and my father moved out. It wasn’t a big surprise as they had been sleeping in separate rooms for a while. I never really saw my parents argue much, but as an empath (one who is very sensitive to other people’s energies) I was acutely aware of the undercurrent of tension between them.
In my young mind, money always appeared to be a source of tension. There never seemed to be enough. My parents seemed to disagree on how it should be spent and while my Dad liked to have fun with his money, Mom was always a more cautious spender and by default the money manager.
After the separation, things became even tighter financially. My Mom was hustling to make ends meet while never letting on to us how dire things were at times. It wasn’t until recently she shared with me that we had food sometimes only because her sisters would sneak groceries up the back steps of our home.
She thought she was protecting us by hiding this but, for me, it made it confusing to hear “we can’t afford that” and “money doesn’t grow on trees” while living in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods. A request to have something my friend had might be met with a sarcastic “Who do you think we are, The Rockefeller’s?”.
My Mom, a public health nurse, would sometimes take us into the ghetto, to a patients home, and say “You see this room? Ten people sleep here at night!” She was trying to drive home the point that we should be grateful for what we had. But it only made me feel guilty for having the things we had.
I formed the impression that money was a scarce commodity and only certain people were lucky enough to have a lot of it. You had to work really hard for it and life was uncertain so you couldn’t really count on it being there for you when you needed it the most.
I developed a love/hate, on again/off again relationship with money.
It would take me three decades and a lot of inner work to figure this out and to learn the tools and techniques to identify and break free of the patterns I had learned around money. This process is ongoing and I continue to be fascinated by the way the mind makes connections and how we develop these self limiting thought patterns.
In hindsight it is amazing to see how I repeated learned patterns of scarcity thinking (both familial and societal). I often told my children “I can’t afford that” for something they wanted, while finding the money for the things that I thought were important.
My beliefs about money impacted my quality of life, the way I did business, the activities I participated in. I realized I used money as an excuse – a sociably accepted one – to get out of doing or having the things I didn’t want. It was my go to excuse and the area where I was limiting myself the most.
I’m not sure exactly when my journey to enlightenment around money began. I just know I got to the point where I was sick of how I felt about it. I was tired of the heaviness, resentment, guilt, anger that I felt about money and my financial “status”. I was tired of feeling jealous of people who seemed to attract it so easily and felt comfortable about it. I was tired of working hard for it and never seeming to have enough of it at the end of the day. Or feeling like I was selling my soul to get it, by working in jobs that I hated. I was tired of feeling limited by it and disempowered around it.
I decided that I was never going to let money be the thing to stop me ever again.
I resolved to learn about it. To figure it out. How to get it, keep it, spend it. To feel differently about it. To have a different relationship with it. I wanted to understand how it worked.
I realized that to feel differently about money, I would have to be willing to look at my beliefs about it and change the ones that were not serving me. I would have to be willing to think differently about it. To interact with it differently.
I bought books. I took courses. I surrounded myself with people who were also working on changing their relationship with money. I mentored with others who had walked this path before me. I fell down and got up again…many times.
I now have a very different relationship with money. It is my friend. I love to receive it, hang out with it, have fun with it, create safety with it, share it with others. I allow it to support me and protect me like a warm blanket on a chilly night. It opens up possibilities for me.
Most importantly, it is a wonderful representation of how powerfully I am loving myself, showing up authentically, and receiving for sharing my gifts with the world.
Like all relationships we have our ups and downs, but I am committed to working at it so it continues to grow. 🙂
Do you know your money story? Have you explored and identified your relationship with money?
That’s part of what I’ll be covering in a free online class on Wednesday January 21st @2:00 pm EST called “Money Stress is NEVER just about the money: Why you are not making and keeping more money in your business (and what you can do about it)”
Will you join me? Click here for more information or to register.