From “The Energy of Money” by Maria Nemeth, Ph.D.

When we strike out to achieve our goals, we are often blocked by old ways of doing things that kept us from reaching our goals in the first place.  Just because we have more energy, doesn’t mean we know how to direct it and use it well.

This chapter is really about awareness.  I read the new Oprah pick, “Women Food and God” last weekend.  And it was, in its essence, about awareness.  The lesson I took from it was that I can be at my natural weight simply by paying attention, being aware of when I’m full and making good choices.

Dr. Nemeth tells us that, in terms of money (and food), Driven Behavior gets us nowhere.  It’s busy, it’s movement, but not necessarily what we want to do. She explains that “driven behavior commands our attention because it feels extremely urgent.”  This kind of behavior is very often covering up a fear that we’re not enough or don’t have all that we need.

“Your experience of an abundant life is the sum of your authentic choices minus the sum of your driven behavior.”  Dr. Nemeth wants us to identify where we are driven. Here are a few symptoms of this driven behavior:

1) Repetition.  It’s that thing about insanity being something we do over and over again, expecting different results. (She attributes it to Rita Mae Brown.)  When we do things repeatedly, that we know are not good for us, that aren’t giving us what we want, we are wasting our energy. One of the ways we do that is what she calls, “The Rut Syndrome.”  Dr. Nemeth defines it as “a habit or pattern that blocks your progress on a particular path.”

She gives us a couple of questions to ask:

*  What specific ruts am I in right now?  In areas such as financial, career, personal, social and physical well being.  (Libby Gill’s wonderful book, “You Unstuck” addresses these areas, specifically.)

*  What reasons do I use for staying this way?  This really is the key.  If you identify this you have a handle to help get out the rut.

*  What has it cost me to maintain this rut?  Dr. Nemeth asks us to be specific.  If it has cost money, how much.  Time?  Well-being?  Finding this out gives us the boost we need.  Once you see how much it’s costing, you’ll be amazed at the energy you have for getting out!

2) Limited Satisfaction.  This is when you’re always too busy or too tired to do anything.  Or enjoy anything.

3) Perfectionism.  I think we’re all familiar with this!  Dr. Nemeth describes the behavior in glowing detail.  And, defines it: “Perfectionism is just the inability to arrive at closure.”  It’s never good enough.

Then, Dr. Nemeth gets into the deep end of the pool.  Obsessions, she says, “are reoccurring thought patterns that get in the way of doing things with ease, and they are energy sponges.”  Compulsions get defined too. “These are acts you must perform again and again to maintain some level of comfort or security, even when the  behaviors themselves are tedious or painful.”  Both keep us stuck in our fear.  The way out, she says, is in telling the truth “about what you think you must have in order to feel secure.”  That awareness piece.

She discusses addictions.  The garden variety, of course, but also “spendaholism,” which has to be brought up in a book about money.  Also the actions around not spending money, getting money and then spending it like crazy and ending up broke again.  Gambling can be another money addiction.  Information addiction.  That’s where she got me.  There’s just way too much out there to slow down now.  I might miss something!

Then there’s Workaholism.  “Peak performers”, she says, “take time for complete rest very day.” Something we don’t often attribute to them.  Dr Nemeth tells us that when we are so busy working, we rarely take the time to think things through so we can tell the truth about our behavior.

One more: Busyholism. Those of us who feel a need to always be doing something, always be busy.  She offers a few questions to see if you fit the mold:

* If I were to give myself time to rest, would I feel guilty or edgy because I’d be thinking about all the things I need to do?  My answer is Yes.

* What would I do with myself if I didn’t work so much?  My response was short and simple.  Spend more time on personal or household projects, see my friends more.

* Who am I under the flurry of all the activity in my life?  Not sure I know the answer to that one.

* What would I find inside if slowed down my frantic work pace for several hours?  A variation on the last one.  I think, if I’m not working, I’m eating, watching or sleeping.

* If I had some free time, would I know what to do with it or myself?  I’m going to say yes here.  I’m very good at filling up time.  And I can always journal.

To finish up, she gives us a “Busyholism Inventory” just to see what’s what.  Most of them are pretty straightforward.  You are to answer Not True as 1, 5 is True with 2 and 4 as Somewhat on either end and 3 being Don’t Know.  That’s a sad state of affairs if you don’t know.  I’ll offer some that struck me. 

  • I get very frustrated if I cannot finish a task or if I’m interrupted and I have to put it off until later.
  • On Sunday (or my day off) I have a list of things I must do before I can play or rest.  I rarely get to the play and rest part.
  • I feel guilty when I am resting or just taking it easy.
  • I usually do things in a hurry.

I figure, if you have even one true in this lot, you’re probably a Busyholic. Dr. Nemeth says, to be absolutely sure, ask your family and friends. Then, slow down, fix a refreshing beverage, put your feet up and breathe!  (That’s my advice.)

Next week we deal with the sticky topic of Lack.