Welcome back to 20 Questions! I am so excited to have with us today Barbara Stanny, the leading authority on women and money. Barbara has a background in business, journalism and a Master's degree in psychology in addition to deeply personal experiences with money and wealth, which set her up to be a bestselling author, popular wealth coach and motivational speaker. Barbara is on a mission to inspire women to become financially empowered, and she will be releasing her seventh book on October 7th, titled Sacred Success®: A Course In Financial Miracles (BenBella Books), which guides readers on the path that she followed to success. Here are her answers to my 20 Questions.
20 Questions — Soul-Style
1. Who are you?
I am Barbara Stanny, a woman who is passionately driven by my Soul's purpose: empowering women financially.
2. What do you do?
I write books, teach, coach…with one over-arching goal — to inspire women to take charge of their finances by following a three-pronged approach: The Outer, the Inner and the Higher Work of Wealth.
3. Why do you do it?
I spent most of my life in a financial fog, even though my father (the "R" of H&R Block) was a financial expert. He genuinely felt that making and managing money was a man's job. His only financial advice to me was: "Don’t worry." And that was fine with me. I didn't understand money. I just wanted to spend it…until I found out that my Prince Charming, a stock broker, was a compulsive gambler who lost a fortune of my inheritance. After our divorce, he left the country, leaving me with tax bills for over a million dollars and no money to pay them.
4. How did you find your way to it?
When my father refused to lend me money for those tax bills (and I refused to talk to him for years), I knew I had to get smart. No one was going to do it for me. I had 3 daughters, one just a baby. I was not going to raise those girls on the street. Problem was, every time I tried to learn about finances, my eyes would glaze over and my brain would fog up. I felt terminally stupid. Until out of the blue, I was hired as a freelance writer (I was a journalist for the San Francisco Business Times) to interview women who were smart with money. Those interviews changed my life. I not only got smart enough to manage my own money, but I also wrote my first financial book, Prince Charming Isn't Coming: How Women Get Smart With Money. It was the beginning of a whole new career and 6 other books, all empowering women financially.
5. How do you feel when you do it?
Powerful. I realized, early on, that the reason women tend to have so much trouble with money has nothing to do with money, per se, but rather their fear of or ambivalence about power. As I discovered, when you take charge of your money, you take charge of your life! And it's a very, VERY powerful feeling. I also feel grateful. I have since thanked my father and my ex-husband for their roles in my life, because those painful experiences with money introduced me to my Soul's calling.
6. What is the joy that keeps you up at night?
I've coined a word for my work: Metafiscal — that which blends financial know-how with metaphysical principles; a melding of the spiritual and the practical in regards to money. Thinking about anything Metafiscal keeps me up at night!!! Partly because it's so exciting…but also because it's scary.
7. What is one thing you still have to practice every day?
8. What are you always searching for?
Impact. How I can reach and empower more women, Metafiscally!
9. What have you found after searching?
I'm really happy and grateful that I've had the opportunity to impact as many women as I have!
10. How do you stay connected to your inner core of peace?
I have a very strong, consistent spiritual practice (I'm a student of A Course in Miracles, which my husband and I read every morning and then meditate). It also helps to have a massively supportive husband, the best kids ever and terrific friends I can turn to when I'm not at peace.
11. What makes you feel led or guided?
The best part of being older — I can look back on my life and see how, despite the pain and craziness (or perhaps because of the pain and craziness), I've clearly been led to where I am now. And I LOVE where I am now. So it's very easy to trust my intuition, to trust my Soul's wisdom, to trust the Divine Downloads that gave me Sacred Success®.
12. What do you do when you can’t hear God (or the Universe, or Source, or your intuition) speaking to you?
I try my best to find stillness and quiet. As the Course teaches: "Learn to be quiet, for His Voice is heard in stillness."
13. What is the difference between resistance and fear?
I believe that all resistance comes from fear. At the root of all fear is a belief. And at the core of all beliefs is an unconscious, irrational decision made early in life. Whenever we do something that conflicts with that unconscious decision and subsequent belief, we trigger fear and go into resistance.
14. Where does the idea come from that we are broken, unworthy or undeserving?
I agree with A Course in Miracles: all misery comes from the belief that we are separate from God. Or as the Course puts it: we heard a joke (that we are separate) and forgot to laugh!
15. How do you move past that to connect with others on a soul level?
I do my best to get out of my ego and communicate from my Soul to their Soul…even with perfect strangers. I’ve never been good at shallow chit-chat. It actually feels more natural for me to dive in a bit deeper. I've been really pleased with the way people respond. And those who don't get it do not stay in my orbit for very long!
16. How did you get to this place of honoring your difficult financial past and the hurt caused by those closest to you?
I did tons of work on myself (therapy, spiritual study, personal growth workshops, 12-step programs like Al-Anon and Debtor's Anonymous). Eventually I came to a vital realization: no one did this to me; I was doing it to myself. In other words, my husband may have gambled away most of my inheritance, but I was the one who gave him the keys to the kingdom by letting him manage all the money. I kept the blinders on while he put me and my children at terrible financial risk. Once I realized my role in this, once I started taking responsibility, everything changed. I had a line in my first book, Prince Charming Isn't Coming, which my editor deleted because she thought it was corny: "In our deepest pain lies our highest purpose." I knew, as I was writing that book, the reason why I was here on earth. How could I NOT honor my past with that realization? (By the way, I included the 'corny' line in my latest book!)
17. What are the most effective tools in your Metafiscal toolbox — do you incorporate anything other than meditation, such as EFT/tapping, prayer or therapy, to get to the root of the inner issues?
Definitely therapy and coaching. I also have a group of very wise friends who can help me dig deeper into my issues. Another tool I use is what I call 'reframing' — when anything 'bad' happens, I always look for the message, the gift, the opportunity it has for me, and then I ask myself the question: How can I use this to take me higher? Journaling has long been an important tool for me, and sometimes when I'm writing I swear it feels like I'm channeling! Of course, I pray and express gratitude all the time. I love what Meister Eckhart once said: "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'thank you,' that would be enough."
18. What do you advise in that moment of financial temptation, when the mind games start swirling about spending, saving, deserving and denying?
Changing our habits with money is a process that occurs over time. First, just observe those mind games that are swirling around inside your head…be aware of them… notice what your brain is telling you…simply listen to those internal voices and get to know them, without necessarily doing anything differently. Second, realize those voices are not the truth but a result of old programming and they may never shut up. Never! But you don't have to listen to them. The more aware you are of how your old beliefs are keeping you in your current rut, the easier it becomes to consciously shift behaviors, to ignore the mind games and make healthy choices. Third, it really helps to have support, someone you can call when temptation strikes to serve as a voice of reason and compassion.
19. What is the first step I can take to stop spending on things that don't serve my highest good, that aren't in alignment with my values (ie, junk food, fast food, excess toys and treats for the kids)?
Track your spending. Every day, write down everything you spend (in a small notebook or empty check register). This in itself can be a game changer when you see how much money you fritter away. Then start looking for ways to shave expenses. But don't just make cuts. Bank what you don't spend. For example, take the money you would spend on your morning mocha latte or evening night cap and put it in a jar. Every month, take the money that's accumulated in the jar to the bank and deposit it into savings. Small amounts add up quickly. Soon you'll start to realize that what you once saw as sacrifice (what? No Starbucks? No shoe sale?) is money that you’re giving to YOU.
20. How do you suggest I go deeper into my own money issues — is there a daily practice you recommend, or is it a slowly developing awareness?
Keeping a spending journal (as above) can be a huge eye-opener, not just regarding money but your whole life. As my mentor, Karen McCall, says: "You can never get enough of what you don't really need." You'll start seeing areas of deprivation, unmet needs and childhood wounds that no amount of money could ever heal. I also highly recommend 12-step programs like Debtors Anonymous and/or Underearners. Daily meetings (on the phone or in person) are so powerful. If you really want to witness miracles, go to 90 meetings in 90 days.
THANK YOU, Barbara! What's that saying, you teach best what you most need to learn? That must mean that I'd be an AWESOME money coach, so you may see more finance posts from me in the future — I can definitely get into roller-coaster patterns of "feast or famine." I am excited to put Barbara's tips into practice, because (if you saw my checkbook) clearly what I'm doing now isn't working! A sign from God? As I am typing this there is a segment on TV called "Why we overspend." It often feels like two steps forward, three steps back. Do you wear the financial pants in your household? Would you like to learn more about the psychology of overspending (or under-earning)? Leave me a comment below — I'd love to compare notes.
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