Asking for Money Is Not Asking to Feel Inferior
Even though asking for money is not asking to feel inferior, we sometimes feel inferior anyway, just because we are asking. In my recent workshop “Not for the Meek: Fundraising as a Contemplative Practice” at Money for Our Movements last month, we explored the pain that can accompany asking others to share their money with us. I really resonated with participants who said that when they hear “no,” they immediately fault themselves.
In truth, when we fundraise, we actually aren’t asking anyone to share their money with us. But it feels that way.
We are asking them to share their money with our wonderful, worthy organization, movement, cause, project. But very often, we end up feeling un-wonderful and un-worthy just because we are asking.
Is it OK to Ask?
It gets to the point that we begin to feel we shouldn’t ask for anything. Ever. But we humans are always asking. Even before we are born! (Our bodies are asking for our mother’s nourishment in utero). We need each other’s help.
Why Do We Punish Each Other for Asking?
Asking (for anything) makes us vulnerable. It opens us up to another human being. And while this is exactly where opportunity and community begin, we know how we humans can be. Sometimes we treat each other terribly.
Why Do We Punish Ourselves for Asking?
Sometimes we treat ourselves terribly. Sometimes we make it so hard on ourselves to ask others–for money, for help, for anything. We make ourselves vulnerable and punish ourselves for doing it. I suspect we do this because we think it will make us stronger, more immune–protect us, in other words. Or give us control. Or give us a reason to explain someone else’s action–whose reason we really don’t know!
But it shouldn’t be this way.
How to Stop
In response to a request to share my practice healing this, three ideas:
- Bring it to awareness. Become conscious that you are running a nasty pattern on yourself. Reread this post and remind yourself: the basics of being human include asking each other for help.
- Resolve intellectually that asking for money is not asking to feel inferior. Your rational mind is not enough to guard against your feelings, and you don’t want it to be. (You want it to become an ally to your feelings.) But it is a vital ally.
- Develop a true sense of yourself. My personal practice is remembering that in truth, I am the Source of All, nothing less and nothing more. I am not this or that stray concept or entrenched thought pattern; I am not my past, my future, my parents, my friends, or my beliefs about myself or the world. My practice is advaita (nondualism), supported by Sufi, Zen, Taoist and mystical Christian practices I can share if there is interest. But my most basic practice is training myself to remember that I am not this, or that: I Am That. So are you. Tat tvam asi. Your own practice will reveal this to you the more deeply you steep yourself in it, and the more deeply you steep yourself, the easier it is to remember when and while you ask. It may also be of use to internalize the Magician’s qualities and learn your own inner voices when it comes to money. Remember: you are That.