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Is There Any Shame in Losing Money?

Last updated on March 31, 2022

Sometimes money is simply gone with the wind.

I Lost a Lot of Money Last Week

Well actually, it took me about seven years to lose all that money, but I got confirmation last week.

After my mom died in 2010, I received a life insurance payment. It was the last gift my mom gave me. But I didn’t know what to do with it. I was like a child being given a car with no clue how to drive. My feet couldn’t even reach the pedals.

But like any child, I tried to drive it anyway. I put it in the stock market for a few months and watched it double and then go back down. I sold when it was the same amount as what I put in. And I thought, “I don’t like the stock market. I can’t predict it.”

I Was Looking for Something More Stable

I wanted something with a small steady growth. And lo and behold someone called me offering just that. Ten or fifteen percent growth per year sounded good to me. I believed it. And in this case, I literally bought it. Funny how “believe” and “buy” are the same!

I “invested” in a bunch of rare stamps. But what I found out slowly over time, and got confirmed last week, is that I was dealing with telemarketers, not actual stamp dealers. They basically sold me a “bill of goods”—stamps that were priced way above market value. So the bottom line for me is probably going to be less than 10% of what I started with.

The First Thought Is “I Was a Fool”

Granted, the money has been gone for years now, and I’ve had my suspicions for a long time too. So it wasn’t a big shock for me last week when I got the confirmation. It almost wasn’t stressful.

But nonetheless the stressful thoughts did start to surface:

I was a fool (or more directly, “I am a fool”).
I am naïve.
My mom would be disappointed in me.
I lost her money.
She worked hard for that money.
I don’t belong in the real world.
I made a big mistake.

The Thoughts Came Up Quietly at First

But I believed them enough to make my body tense, and to make my mood a bit more solemn. It felt like an undercurrent of shame.

I’m just starting to work these thoughts now in Inquiry Circle. I’m taking the time to hold each one, and let it be fully heard, and felt, and questioned. And as I do, the undercurrent of tension and shame is lifting.

In addition to questioning the list of stressful thoughts above, I will probably write some Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets on those whom I think would be disappointed in me if they knew.

So, Is It Shameful to Lose Money?

What I’m seeing is that it’s only shameful when I believe it is. The world may think it’s shameful, terrible, pitiable. But it’s up to me whether I believe it or not. It’s up to me whether I drag myself down with it or not.

What I’m finding is I just took a very expensive training program in how not to invest money. I have experience now that may serve me again someday when I have money to invest.

I was like a child, trusting a telemarketer. You might say I was a fool. And I’d agree with you. But I don’t mind being what I am. It was simply my path this time. I didn’t have enough awareness to do it another way.

This also gives me a lot more understanding for my grandmother who lost money in a scam at the end of her life.

It Is a Part of Growing Up for Me

Now I see the part of me that, like my grandmother, wanted someone else to invest my money for me. I see how easily I shirked responsibility.

That is a precious lesson for me. I gave my money to the sharks and the sharks did what sharks always do. I just never looked closely enough to see their dorsal fins.

Now, I understand the importance of due diligence. The importance of getting three quotes. The importance of diversification. The importance of educating myself about how to invest. If this loss is what it took for me to see that, it’s not a bad thing at all.

That Was The First Stage of My Education

I had to see the value of scrutiny and research in this area of life. The area of finances is an area I’ve pushed away and wanted not to look at for most of my life. This was a wake up call for me to step more fully into adulthood in the world of money.

I’m open to learning more now. I’m open to reading books, and educating myself on how to invest. Why not learn now how to tell the difference between a genuine investment a scam? Why not study the various ways to invest?

I was so focused on not being attached to money that I forgot the counterbalance, which is learning the skills of dealing with money. Both sides are important. Like any turnaround, one side without the other is not balance.

I was asleep, and now I’m waking up.

I Leave You With One Last Turnaround for Balance

I didn’t throw all of my money away. I used part of the money my mom gave me to get my training as a certified facilitator of The Work. That turned out to be the best investment I ever made.

Without that money, I would not be where I am today. Thank you, Mom.

Have a great week,

“How do I know I don’t need the money? It’s gone! I’ve been spared: what I would have done with that money would obviously have been much less useful for me than losing it.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

About the author

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.

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