I grew up in a working class family in inner city Birmingham, UK. As far back as I can remember we always struggled for money. I was raised with a poverty mentality of being thrifty, making do, watching the pennies and being anti the rich and wealthy – with no awareness of the concept that my wealth comes from inside me.
We didn’t have a car or a telephone as those were luxuries my family couldn’t afford, holidays were a treasured rarity and don’t ask for the latest toys or craze as we simply had to go without. And when my Dad got made redundant for 5 years during the Thatcher years things got really tight. We, however, were lucky as we had a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.
It was difficult and my family had to rely on things like school uniform vouchers and free school dinner tokens that were offered by way of assistance. I always felt the stigma of this at school, I hated that we had to ask for and take government ‘handouts’.
This poverty mentality has dominated much of my life. I must study hard and do well at school so I can get a good job, have nice things and never go without. I must push in the way I work so I can earn enough each week to pay my bills and put some money in the bank.
The worry of not having enough money and the struggle to be able to afford things constantly nagged in the recesses of my mind like a background hum that tainted all my decision-making when it came to investments, purchases and saving cash.
MAKING A LIVING AND THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MONEY
Once I graduated from university and earned the title of Doctor in front of my name you would imagine that my attitude to money would have started to shift. However, I was up to my eyeballs in student loans and as a new graduate wasn’t very fast or efficient with my skills, so earning a decent income initially was very difficult.
I learned to be super-effective with my time management, cramming in as much treatment as possible when seeing a patient to maximise the return on each one I saw. In this though, I was always stressed – pushing, rushing and compromising the standard of my work and level of real care towards my patients.
This affected my behaviour towards myself, my team and my patients: but that story would be best served up in another blog. One thing I did see though, was that by working this way I could make a decent living.
I worked like that for 20 years, driven by the pressures and worries of providing treatment and making a living. The more money I had, the more responsibility with money arose in the form of:
- A mortgage,
- Car loans,
- Credit card debt,
- Tax bills,
- Owning a business,
- Business loans,
- Paying wages and
- Being the sole income provider for my dental practice and staff and my family.
On paper I am very successful – I own a thriving business, 3 houses, 2 cars, take 2 overseas holidays a year and can buy pretty much anything I want as the money is there in the bank.
Yet… up until very recently I was still carrying that poverty mentality I was raised with.
THE WORRY OF HAVING ENOUGH MONEY… EVEN WHEN I HAVE ENOUGH
I knew there was plenty of money in the bank and my appointment book could be solidly booked for a month in advance, yet I’d be freaking out if a patient failed to attend for their treatment or cancelled at short notice. I’d almost hyperventilate if there was a space in my daily schedule.
I constantly worried about paying the bills and having enough money to provide for my team and my family. I stressed about taking time off – could I really afford to be away from my practice for so long? And I felt the constant burden of the loans and mortgages I was responsible for. Even with plenty of money I still felt like I was struggling to have enough to make ends meet.
I have been working on healing my personal issues for quite some years now by applying the teachings presented by Universal Medicine, but I never made the leap that money, or at least my attitude to it, was something that needed healing too.
In October 2012 I finally made an appointment with a financial advisor. I had been putting this off for a few years even though my accountant had been on at me to sort out my income protection, life insurance and my will.
I sat down at the meeting prepared to be talking about income, debt, assets, etc and was really taken aback when the advisor asked me to put all my paperwork away for now and simply tell him how I felt about my business.
In our meeting I talked about my poverty mentality and much of what I have shared above. To this the advisor replied, “You see your business as a burden, as too much responsibility, and instead of focussing on what you do have and how well you are doing, you focus on the gaps in your appointment book. This makes you stressed. Do you think your patients want to see stressed Rachel or the Rachel who is full of the joy of the life she lives and the success she has?”
“You work hard so you can have enough to take a few days off and reward yourself for your efforts when in fact the way you live and everything you already are is your reward.”
I was totally floored. But what he said was the complete and irrefutable truth and in that moment I felt a massive shift as something deep within me let go – the relief was palpable.
I had been measuring my worth and success against a profit and loss statement and not on who I am and what I offered to my patients and the people around me.
My struggle with money was a reflection of my internal struggle to be enough, and to be more. But the reality was and is that I am enough just as I am. And that my wealth comes from inside of me and the loving life that I choose to live every day.
APPRECIATING WHAT I HAVE AND WHO I AM
That meeting was 8 months ago; during the time since, appointment bookings have remained constant but the takings of the practice have dramatically increased.
My obsession with cash flow and the need to make money had stopped me from fully enjoying my work and being in the moment. I was constantly swimming upstream, acting like a dam across the money river, slowing down or holding up the flow completely. It stopped me fully appreciating what I have and what an incredible person I am.
By letting go of my strangle-hold on the purse strings of my dental practice and focussing on the person who is booked in rather than the gaps in my schedule, I have been able to just be myself with my patients and let my love and passion for dentistry shine.
So now when I discuss dental needs with a patient, they can feel there is no pressure to have the treatment as there is no undercurrent of desperation and money worries driving the conversation.
This has led to a higher level of case acceptance and patients booking for the best treatment options rather than compromising their dental care by opting for a quick fix or cheaper short-term option… and hence a significant increase in revenue.
Who would have thought it?! When you stop focussing on money and start enjoying what you do, the rewards start to flow as a by-product of appreciating oneself – and one of these is more income.
But the ‘rewards’ for me go much deeper than this – I have more fun with my patients, my team and family and have found a renewed passion and appreciation for my profession. And most significantly, I no longer feel like I carry the dental practice like a dead-weight around my neck.
When the bills come there is always sufficient money available and plenty left in reserve in the bank, just in case. Taking responsibility for my financial affairs and knowing my family will be taken care of if I get sick or should die is a wonderful gift I have given myself when it comes to money.
But the greatest gift was finding a financial advisor who was able to connect to me as a person and have the wisdom to work with me to break down the poverty mentality that was holding me back from being fully free to be me, to enjoy my life and work knowing the wealth inside.
By Dr Rachel Hall, Holistic Dentist, Brisbane