Multi-Disciplinary Artist & Futures Designer

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How to play the money game 

babe you've got this

Zephyr INS 6

Shepherd Lad KY 216

How to play the Money-Game - is the second in a series of essays in which I'm exploring the inner and outer workings of taboos and provide practical ways to transcend them. As my research continues these pieces grow or shrink, depending on the quality of insight I gain. I wrote this piece in preparation of a series of talks in which I explored the future of money from an embodied, experiential, perspective. If you want to join the conversation, tweet me!

"We suffer more often in imagination, than in reality." said Seneca

And he may have had a point. If my imagination spoke the truth, I'd be a full-time spectator to a scarcity-show. It doesn't matter how many times I win and money comes in, the imaginary voice of Scarcity Satan keeps convinced that one day I'll lose everything and thus it plays a myriad medley in my head with tunes like these:

  • "You have to be scared because you are a woman in a man's world."
  • "You have to be scared because living from abundance is utterly irrational."
  • "You have to be scared because being rich is equal to lacking grace and heart for humanity."
  • "You have to be scared because you'll probably never enter adulthood anyway."
  • "You have to be scared because all of the above, adding all your mum's fears too."

Although most people who know me would neither constitute me as a big spender nor as a grand grab-all, I know of myself that I place certain projections in money that limit me from receiving and spending it freely. I also know that if I express and recognize these projections in money, I will be more in tune with money as an extension of who I am, rather than who I believe I should be.

So what I did for this piece is make a study of how to reinvent money, how this New Idea then projects into society, and how we can collectively purify our relationship with money through simple visualizations and practices. All this you will read if you pursue.

But first I want to share with you my personal story that led me to have a more complicated relationship with money than I'd want.

As a female tech founder, I have been seriously confronted with social stigma placed on women in business. As those cases that are now circling around the internet about sexual harassment and working environments being psychologically and physically unsafe for women, also I have been in situations in which I didn't feel seen or felt seriously oppressed by men in the tech scene. From potential investors who asked me out for dinner during a funding round to generally not being taken seriously by mentors, I felt unable to express the mistreatment and was left feeling misunderstood.

At the time I didn't know how to deal with that but to seriously judge myself ("I must have been flirting") and implode. But here I am and I feel this so I say this, as these experiences fed my internal Scarcity Satan who to this date is making attempts to limit me from entering the money-game again. The negative connotations I have with money keep me away from success as I have started to associate it with oppression. This voice still tries to thus make me choose poverty, failure and loneliness over success. But my judgment on the "masculine" aggression that led this world to being obsessed by money as an object, limits me to manifest myself in meaningful ways. My internal suffering from not being seen and recognised as a woman, now separates me from recognising and seeing my own capabilities and opportunities for adding meaning to the world. And in this way Seneca was right: I suffer much more in imagination than in reality.

So here I am, making an effort to purify my relationship with money and re-imagine how to play the money game. To convince my Scarcity Satan that now is the time that I'll fierce through her headlock and shut her mouth, or else, she'll be a victim of the great lioness of wealth and pleasure who is relentless to say the least.

What is money if we reinvent it?

Not only because of the story I shared, but in general, we have to admit it is about time we reinvent the idea of money as it is the one invention that stands above them all.

And as our society updates itself with new innovations constantly, the meaning of money and what we value changes as civilization evolves and mirrors our evolutionary state. So, whatever we project into money says a whole lot about us and deducting backwards, we can come to the root of what we believe about ourselves that now determines our reality.

And it's needed. The world is ruled by money. And it doesn't make us happy. Money makes us feel independent. And yet it also makes us less compassionate. American psychologists Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich concluded already fifteen years ago that doing things makes people happier than having things. “To Do or to Have? That Is the Question” was the title of the study they published in 2003. Now, we are slowly transforming our economy to one that is driven by material purchases to one that is driven by experiences; but still, we're not quite sure how to merge our wishes for our bank accounts with our wishes for experiencing a life full of meaning.

And this is all because of our dedication to the voice of Scarcity Satan.

Who is Scarcity Satan anyway?

The voice of Scarcity Satan speaks through fear and struggle for survival and is programmed deeply into our DNA. It lacks trust in the future as it doesn't understand the expanse beyond the egocentric self. It doesn't speak the language of inclusion and interconnectivity, it's simply there to guide us to food, shelter, and safety and it has done so successfully for millennia. For that we should thank it. But times have changed now, dear Satan. Modern technologies have arrived that allow us to make our system’s hierarchy flatter, to divide power, to empower the masses and liberate us from the bondages of scarcity, fear and survival.

If we would only grab the opportunity we could end the alienation, isolation and competition-game and live a life of trust, growth and connection.

And as we look outside, that's exactly what we're trying.

A trust economy

First we had the sharing economy. Suddenly we experienced we could make money from adding an experience to an already-made investment in our skillset or property. It is only because of AirBnB that I've been able to be an entrepreneur since my early twenties. It is only because of Facebook that I opt-in to learning experiences that continuously update my professional and personal skill-set to stay on track. The sharing economy obviously serves a purpose. But by entertaining it we also learned that a truly sustainable sharing economy requires us to say bye bye to the middleman, even if it's only a platform. We require ownership over our data and direct transactions under transparent circumstances so that money flows easily to all corners of the system and not just to those who are already privileged.

And here we are, creating a second generation sharing economy. Surfing a higher wave of consciousness that is based on greater ideals of inclusivity and connectivity. Struggling with the integration into our economy of even more powerful redistribution technologies like blockchain and bitcoin that allow us to squeeze wealth into those who were left behind during the previous cycle. And as a result, we're allowing more people to make the decision to set up a free work life and express themselves as humans in ever more authentic ways. This new institutional culture sets a space for the spiritual being within a dynamic hierarchy that leverages differences instead of squeezing everyone in a mold. Within institutions there is room for experiment, which translates in an economic model that allows us to invent and re-invent, constantly.

And this will lead to radical reinventions of our concepts of living and working, as what we now associate with Business and Work will become the world of Self-Exploration and Self-Expression. Personal Development tools will merge with Innovation tools. Creativity becomes the key driver of success. And the introduction of a Basic Income seems inevitable as soon as an Artificial Intelligence takes over most of our 'work tasks'. It has to be financially lucrative to optimize human potential, and it is now, because money and trust merge as one force.

In this way, the spiritual seeker merges with the post-modern hedonist, unlocking purpose and richness at the same time.

Unlocking purpose & richness

So the story is: if we express and recognise that we've placed projections like health, freedom, autonomy and even love in money, or on the other end, oppression and victimization, we will feel more empowered to live in abundance.

In that story, the definition of abundance is not to chase money as an object, but to follow the advice of Bashar who says that:


How's that?

By projecting some characteristics in money, we separate ourselves from money as an extension of who we are, which obstructs our flow and therefore our ability to ACT when we need to act and to stand STILL and open when we need to receive.

Over the years we started to believe that money can give us health, freedom, autonomy and love, whereas we're the only who can generate those experiences, by acting when we need to act and stand still and open when we need to receive. With giving away our power to money as a force that can oppress us, we forgot that money is No Thing in particular. That money is what we make of it: an energetic extension of our own beliefs.

To illustrate this trap, you may be able to relate to your experience of the money game and it being a game without winners.

The money game stretches our greed for 'more, more and more' over the far-end of the horizon into infinity. Really, there is no richness and poverty. There is no such thing. “A thing is really a think“, as Alan Watts says.

We are creating this reality by thinking that it is real. But if we can sense the space in between us and our sensing, then we can move through all fears and trust that there is some deeper essence, some lifeline of integrity connecting us and breathing through us all. We can fall back in this web and see the connections that integrate us in the whole. We sense our mutual responsibility and dependability and tune into a pure balance between giving and receiving that moves on infinitely. And this will change our relationship with money everlastingly.

So let's put into the light our beliefs about money and explore ways to transcend them so that we can live in abundance, free from their headlock, able to act when we need to act, and stand still when we need to stand still.

These steps I explored as a simple experiment to get rid of my own fixed beliefs about money. I have walked through this journey based during interactive talks for big audiences and the good news from my own experience is: THEY WORK!

These steps are a practice that allow us to make space for new connections to be downloaded into the spheres of our understanding so that we can act upon life in new ways and express ourselves in new, meaningful ways.

To me personally, this practice has brought me the freedom to enter the money-game again without playing a part in it, being a spectator to other people's beliefs about wealth and success, instead of having to identify with them. This allows me to breathe abundance into my life without chasing it.

Step 1: Disarm your fears

Before we get to eat the fruits from the tree of abundance, we have to be prepared to sip from the tea of terror and have a serious talk with Scarcity Satan. We cannot entirely let go of its voice, and nor do we really want to as fears are there for reasons. But we can learn to live with them in peace by feeling our fears and experiencing that they’re harmless in itself. That only ignoring them can do us harm.

Tim Ferris, the productivity guru, recently did a Ted Talk about Fear-Mapping. Mapping your fears, he says, is, rather than mapping your goals, vital to becoming successful. If we can live with guilt, anger and grief, if we can be respectful of them being alive in us, we will no longer be limited by them; what's more, they will be our diving board to purpose and richness.

If we're willing to unveil our fears, the story we tell about ourselves, and how we should be dealing with money, we start making money by seeing new connections and making space to receive and give freely.

So ask yourself:

In the face of money, I'm afraid of …
If I'm spending money on this… I'm afraid that I'll ...
If I'm earning money with this… I'm feel ...

Then ask yourself:

If I avoid these actions that scare me, what would my life look like?
What would I live like?
Is it even an option to not be free do these things that scare me?

And now try again. Think about your fears and feel their headlock. Then sense what's behind them. Feel this lifeline that is deeply moving and piercing change through those parts that you deemed fixed. This deeper essence that is taking your fears by the hand and showing them a world beyond their limited perceptions, telling them, again: don't worry, you've got this babe.

Step 2. Burn your stuff

They taught us not to play with fire. But in fact it seems we should. Fire is needed to burn everything around it that is no longer needed. It is the expression of energy that is out of connection with our purest intentions. The fire is that where heaven and earth merge to purify the stuff that obstructs your body. Stuff obstructs. It's in the way of letting the life juice flow freely through our bodies.

The location we live, work and play, whatever we absorb around us becomes part of us, be it the goodness of people, nature, knowledge, or our own negativity and resentment. If God or Universe or that-which-cannot-be-named would be resembled by the Flower of Life, stuff is resembled by the Cubicle that is stuck inside itself. It represents the cage in which Satan is residing. Stuff contains the limited perspective of forgone times that the world is simply material. Only if we look at stuff as something that we can have a relationship with, we can bring it to life.

Inside each material form lies energy that once unlocked allows spirit to flow in and transform matter into consciousness. When we allow ourselves to only be surrounded by things and people that uplift us, then we turn to life, and so does life turn to us.

So express this to your nearest:

If you really knew me you would know that money...

Express your vulnerability, let it recklessly go and you will turn to life as life will turn to you.

Allow the flame in and move it through your body to burn to ashes those cubes of ice you have within that obstruct energy to flow freely. Allow the spark of inspiration to come in, recognise it for who he is, and welcome him again and again to help you make new connections and explore new networks to manifest yourself in.

3. Reset your focus point

What would you do if money were no object? If everything was possible? What would your next Monday look like? What would you do?

Say to yourself:

Abundance, what would you have me say, who would you have me meet, what would you let me wear?

We have to set intentions, sharpen and purify them and then act upon them. If we invest money to experiment it liberates movement: we cannot sit and wait for money to come to us. We have to use our mental and physical power to project our intentions in the outside world in the purest way possible. And that we do through continuous trial and error. These experiences trigger what is real: our physical experience and our imagination. Our senses. For a focus point to be so deeply rooted into our subconscious that it eventually can become real it has to be multidimensional. It has to be something that goes deeper than purely our minds. So feel it! Feel what your intention is like when you plug it into your veins and bathe in that feeling.

4. Dance the abundance

We can only dance when we are in interaction with something, with some other humans preferably. In this case we can only welcome abundance if we celebrate abundance in others. Abundance breaths abundance. If you look at the person sitting in front of you and celebrate what they have, you can see it as something that you have too. Give compliments, abundantly, raise your inner abundance and celebrate the successes of others.

Besides that, express yourself. Stand up for yourself and deal with failure. Have ultimate self-compassion when things go wrong and take ownership over your success without acclaiming it all to yourself. We're just part of one big experience, and only if we include everything in it: our resistance, our fears, our vulnerability and our past, we can be in the present and project from there into the future in a way that is pure and takes into consideration what we have learned in the process.

So in the end, the game is just to PLAY with joy and acceptance, as this will feed into our personal abundant experience and an economy that will progressively be built on trust, until it is trust and trust only that creates abundance for us.


Babe, you've got this.

Lisanne Buik, 2018
1015HC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands