The Dark Side of Money

Back when I was 15 I was approaching the last few days at school and I was given a heads up by my mum that a limo was coming to pick me up and take me in. Given that I feared embarrassment of any nature I thanked her for the warning and got out the door quick to take a different route to school by foot.

Back when I was 16 I began a long love affair with boozy nights out followed by donner kebabs, dodgy taxis and an attempt at womanising. That last one took a while to get off the ground. Of course, I also became quite accustomed to the ‘day after the night before’ feeling and a hearty serving of the good old English fry-up.

Back when I was 25 I began developing feelings of sadness and subsequently depression. I was feeling the strain of a relationship that was rife with insecurity and anger on both parts and a job that kept me on red alert for trouble every single night. I started becoming more aware of where exactly I was in Australia and seeing first hand what I wasn’t seeing up until that point.

These three particular times in my life have only one common denominator.

Why the limo? Well, it was in reward for being present for every single day of Key Stage 4 (years 10 and 11). Though it was quite ungrateful of me to make a run for it, I just couldn’t handle any pointing and laughing that may have come my way for being ever present at a school that had quite low standards.

My mum served on the board of governors at my secondary school and was once asked by the Head why I never missed a day. She wanted to know in the hope that she could find a solution to the ever growing absence rates. I loved school. I loved every minute of it. Getting towards the end of Primary school I started to develop an apathy. Secondary school was different, I was itching to get started and bounced out of bed every morning ready to go.

Sixth form was an even better experience as I started to develop a greater amount of freedom. There was less class time, bouncers of local nightclubs never checked ID and my part time job at McDonalds funded plenty of Smirnoff Ice. To top it off, I would soon be able to drive. Life was good.

Upon leaving school I started working in banking and insurance which would take me to branches and offices all over London and the South East. It opened me up to even more nights out in new places with new people. I was starting to grow up. Well, kinda.

After 5 years of office work I deemed there to be more to life than the standard 9-5 routine and so I set sail to Australia to backpack to my heart’s content. Even to this day I have people ask me why on earth I ever came back. The answer is very simple and it ties in with that one common thread that you have been reading about so far: Socialising. In the case of coming back home from Oz it was more a case of lack thereof.

I had an absolute blast in Australia and met some great people. In fact, I am soon to be ‘best man’ for one of them. However, one by one people were starting to head home or to other places to travel while I found myself quite settled in the Queensland city of Townsville. I had a good job that offered to sponsor me and I was leasing a house with my then girlfriend. Sounds like a dream of a life, right? Nope.

I couldn’t shake this downbeat feeling that had swept over me. I had experienced mania and now the inevitable depression was starting to kick in. It was taking a stranglehold of me and I had no idea why I was feeling this way. All I knew was that I just had to get out of there and focus on heading in a new direction in life.

As part of my obsession with studying human behaviour and potential I have become increasingly informed about values. I had no idea back then just how much I valued socialising. It is so true when people say that it is not where you are that matters, it is who you are with. It is what you make it.

My mum’s response to the Head teacher that day was that I just needed to be around my friends. It was like an addiction. She was right. Lessons were boring. I would sit in every class and day dream my way to the end. Despite lessons accounting for most of the time each day I lived for morning breaks, the lunch time kick-about and the walks home.

School was a laugh. Clubbing was a laugh. Travelling was a laugh. Reality sucked. I returned home in late 2010 from Australia at the time when the Credit Crunch had a tight grip on things in the UK. Jobs no longer existed, at least not for unqualified schmucks like me. Never fear, I was enrolled for my PT course before I had even left Australia.

Now here is why reality sucked. I now had to build a business. In a new industry. With zero confidence. And a complete lack of self esteem. Oh, and in a recession. My survival became my fixation and I couldn’t think of anything else. I needed clients in order to make money. I went from viewing people as companions and connections to money and opportunities. People. Actual real life people.

It is only now that I have figured out that I struggled so much in the beginning, not because I was bad at sales but because I didn’t have the belief in myself that I could provide adequate value for what I was expecting people to pay. And so my feelings of unworthiness led me to take course after course in the hope that I would figure out what I needed to. It didn’t work. It got me in debt. A lot of debt. Now the pressure was really on.

I have nothing against Capitalism. In fact I love it. It has just become apparent how much it has been taken out of context from it’s origins. Providing a service that meets the genuine needs of the people. Brilliant idea. Only, greed took over when Generation X were given everything their parents never had. Yet it is Generation Y that are labelled the entitled ones. Not at all. Only now it is Gen X in all the powerful positions that the set behaviour is now to tread all over each other in order to get what you want.

For the last 7 years I have put so much time, energy and effort into making something of myself. With a few lucky breaks here and there lately I have found myself in a position that I never in a million years would have dreamed of back when I started out. Debt free and earning a pretty penny. It just doesn’t feel like I have found what I went searching for.

I had made money my driving force. Self interest was the go. Attachment to my own ego telling me that I lived in a state of perpetual lack. I was caught up in this whirlwind of striving to survive. When I became debt free I had a profound shift to a greater level of consciousness. I discovered that I had disassociated myself from my default mindset of constantly needing more and began seeing how so many people live this way. I was becoming free and being able to observe the trappings of so many others.

My amygdala was starting to quieten down and as the dust settled I saw more and more just how I had let money control me. Bemoaning all the while that my youth had slipped away from me. Only my youth wasn’t gone at all. I just had prioritised money over health instead of finding a balance. The stress hormone cortisol flowing through my veins kept draining my energy and leaving me fatigued. Not wanting to exercise and making me binge on pack after pack of biscuits, cookies and anything else I could get my hands on.

My coach, Martin, recently made a interesting comment about money. He said that he loved money as it enabled him to do things. Although at what cost do you allow it to take. What he meant by this is that he would always opt for 4 clients a day instead of 8 if ever given the choice. This is because he knows that having 8 clients a day would take him way from other things that he wants to do.

Simon Sinek, in his book Leaders Eat Last makes a very compelling argument for how we are so gripped by self interest yet biologically we are not equipped for it. Our human nature dictates that we are designed to cooperate instead of compete to the degree we are currently doing so. In times of hardship we pull together. In what he terms as ‘Destructive Abundance’ we have a throw-away attitude that makes us value things a lot less.

As someone that has always been neat and tidy I have found a love for minimalism. I no longer seek the material possessions that I once did and even though I now own very few items, I am still looking for where I can further de-clutter. Truth be told, it starts in the mind. We have been conditioned with the idea that we need more and more. We don’t. We are already enough.

Another great book, Minimalism by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus gave me further insight into this new movement occurring in the developed world. Particularly on the subject of work. They state that you can have either a job, a career or a mission. To me, a job and a career fuel self interest whether we realise it or not. Of course we all have bills to pay. It is ‘mission’ however that brings us fulfilment. Something we can do that is so big that can change the world. A cause that inspires us to get up and make a difference.

I’m one of those crazy people that believes they can change the world. And of course, all change starts from within. My mission is and always has been to educate the world. I am a seeker of truth and am on a journey to find it and share it. Us Gen Y and Millennial types aren’t so much as entitled as is made out. We are impatient (and constantly distracted) according to Simon Sinek. I am inclined to agree with him.

I want to make a difference in the world. I want to make a impact for the good of humanity. I have discovered first hand just how unfulfilling my self serving attitude was. What I have now realised is that at 32 years of age, I am not expected to have changed the world yet. In Gary Keller’s book The One Thing he asks what is the ‘one thing’ you can do right now that would have the biggest impact on your biggest goal. For me, if you haven’t already guessed by now, is studying.

My iPhone has stayed on my bedside table and I have stepped up my already high consumption of information. Either side of getting all this off of my chest, of course. (And an increase in gym time). The thing is, study or no study, I already know what the truth is. I have already found it. And I keep working towards finding it within myself, each and every day.

The truth eradicates all beliefs that we have been conditioned to store in our subconscious minds. It goes beyond judgement and ego. It goes beyond even our own value systems. The truth transcends our emotions, taking us out of the limbic system and into the frontal lobe, connecting us to a higher state of consciousness.

The truth, is love.

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