Category Archives: money choices

“Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees”

Money doesn't grown on trees… but it can grow!We’ve all heard that one, haven’t we?  It’s an example of a money belief—an idea that we have about money.  We all have beliefs around money, yet somehow we don’t actually try to untangle them. We shy away from looking at the beliefs.

Instead we tend to try some method of crunching numbers or budgeting.  We put money in envelopes, we watch our spending on our cell phones.  Some even play with my handy dandy “GOSH” model.  (Which by the way is very cool and useful!)

And here’s the truth:  None of that really works until you figure out what your money beliefs are, and if you want to keep them!  Your money behavior is driven by your money beliefs.

You will create and perpetuate your beliefs around money.  You just will!  Frankly we do that with all our beliefs.  We find the information that supports them, and we ignore the information that refutes them.  It’s part of all that lovely pattern making that goes on in our heads.

Of course, with money it’s more complex than with other things because of that whole money being a taboo topic thing!  Since we don’t talk with others  or even ourselves about our money beliefs that just keep influencing our choices over and over.

Which of these have you ever heard, thought or found yourself believing?

  • Money doesn’t grow on trees.
  • You’ll have to work really hard and you’ll still never make any money.
  • There is never enough!
  • Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people.
  • Money is the root of all evil.
  • I am not good with money.
  • I can’t do math, so I can’t do money.
  • I feel like I must have been out sick the day they actually explained money.
  • Having debt means I’m a bad person.

Those are just some of the most common ones.  There are no doubt thousands of possible money beliefs that will hinder or hold back your effectiveness with the stuff.

And just to be clear, I’m not talking about how much of it you have, I’m talking about what is your relationship with money?  Do you see it as a tool and ally, or as an enemy?

What do you make up about money?  Really, what do you make up about money?  Make a list!  Now look at each one of those beliefs and ask yourself a couple of questions, like:

  • Is this really true?  Like 100{d17d1c7cbc79c3528c645ea839b9b4dcb45f699f05bb148e76e09641ba980643} of the time TRUE?
  • Is this my belief?  Or is it my family’s belief?  Or even, is it my cultures belief?
  • What might be different if I changed this belief?

That’s one of the cool things about beliefs: we can change them.  It takes noticing that you want to change the belief.  Then it takes both patience and maybe even humor to work on changing it.

One of my favorite ways to accomplish the change in beliefs is to throw in another option every time I hear myself either thinking or saying the belief.  It works like this: You follow the belief statement with something like, “…except when it’s not!”  (Examples:  Money’s hard to come by… except when it’s not.  Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people… except when they are!)

So ‘Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees‘ — except it can grow.  It can be different.  And you can do better with it.  It all starts with choosing how you want to think about it.  As humans we are really committed to proving our beliefs.  We see it all the time.  So figure out what your beliefs are, and, if continuing to prove your current beliefs to be true actually makes your life worse, try understanding and re-framing the belief.

Just imagine how much easier all this money stuff would be if you had some positive thoughts about it!


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like to play with this belief changing idea more, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Misplaced Loyalty

Loyalty can be a truly wonderful thing—on both the giving and receiving side—and like most things, being loyal can lead to some negative results.  The misplaced loyalty knot I’d like to talk about is all tangled up with biology and anthropology.

It starts before we are born.  On the biology side it really stems from those big brains we have—or rather how much more growing they need to do after we are born.  We have to be cared for by the parent for a much longer time compared to many other species.  It’s not just about walking and talking, it’s also about the complexity of human society.  We need to learn how to communicate and behave.  All very complex things going on in a brain that isn’t really ‘grown’ until early adulthood—despite our strong teenage opinions!

We have tons of things to learn, and we learn those things from our parents.  To make that learning more effective we are biologically hard-wired to be loyal to the parent.   We take whatever they say or do as the “gospel truth” when we are little.  We HAVE to!  They are our protection from danger, our source of food, and our primary source of knowledge.  We absolutely cannot afford to piss them off—they might abandon us!  And if they did that, we would die.  That is as true for us today as it was when we humans were hunter/gatherers long ago.

That hard-wired loyalty has a bit of a dark side though.  When it comes to money it gets messy.  And around money, all that loyalty creates huge problems for generation after generation.  It’s that thing where we don’t talk about money since it’s so taboo!  We learn about money without any actual training,  by observation only and thus we absorb and create many odd ideas.  Not only are the ideas a bit strange but they are hidden—we aren’t conscious of them.

This misplaced loyalty creates a bunch of strange results:

  • If your parents fought about money you will likely fight with your spouse about money.
  • If your parents fought about money you may very well decide that money is evil and bad, and make sure to have as little of it as possible.
  • Women will often unconsciously make sure they do not make more money than they perceived their fathers did as some kind of loyalty.
  • Perhaps the only way your parents expressed affection was with money, so that’s the currency for you to give or receive affection.

On and on it goes, and we don’t actually consciously recognize we are caught in these old familial traps around money because they somehow just “are”—they are so ingrained in our brains we have never ventured to distinguish and analyze them.

That is exactly what I would invite you to do!  Spend some time thinking about—maybe even journaling—about you and your money.   Do some digging.  See how what you are doing with money relates to how your family handled and talked about it.  You’ll find that you are doing something very similar to what you perceived your parents did, or you are doing the opposite of what they did.  The ‘perceived‘ word is in there because the topic is so taboo you probably don’t know what they actually did with money  You only know how you percieved what you saw and heard around money.

It’s a knot well worth untangling because this misplaced loyalty has been influencing your relationship with money all your life.  If you look more closely at it you can then make a choice to keep it or change it.  That’s the problem with taboo things that never get discussed.  We don’t even recognize we are caught in them, let alone that we have a choice.   Give yourself the choice!


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like some support understanding how this loyalty piece played out in your family, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

The Eclipse and Money – Something in Common?

I live in Oregon, just about 30 miles from the magic belt of ‘Totality’ so the eclipse stuff has been big here.  Everyone has been talking about it.  People gathered together to get closer, whether in a campsite or a festival.  People all over the country made a special effort to be in it and see it.  That’s a big change!

Centuries ago a solar eclipse was a message from the Gods, and not a fun one!  the sky goes dark, the sun disappears and is left this weird ring around it.  The stars in the heavens shine in the day time.  The animals behave oddly.  “Wow!  Scary stuff.  We’d better sacrifice a few virgins before this gets worse!”

It was a big, scary event.  It made no sense.  There was no ‘science’ about it.  No one knew anything for sure.  Some folks made up things, and they were mostly fear based.  After all, these were generally tough times, what with plagues, droughts, and no plumbing.

And then along came science.  Well, actually science came along, and humans in general resisted it.  Hmm… that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Around 500 b.c.  some folks were beginning to embrace the idea that eclipses might be a natural phenomena. Edmund Halley and some others were very sure about that by 1715 a.d.

Today we lean toward it, instead of away — because we know what it really is: the moon crossing in front of our view of the sun.  And those who ventured to see it in totality report it was amazing, emotional, and wonderful.

“Okay, lovely” you say: “What has that got to do with money?”

Well besides the fact that people are willing ‘spend’ a bunch of both time and money to go see the eclipse in all it’s glory, there is a lovely metaphor in this event.

What’s the most taboo topic in our culture?  What’s the thing your parents used everyday and never actually taught you about?  What’s that thing that it feels like everyone else has figured out, and you are  just clueless about?  What is the most bewildering, mysterious, and scary commodity on earth?  Money!

For most people, the real problem with money isn’t money, it’s what we make up about the stuff.  We often treat it as if it was an evil entity trying to keep us from our good — a spirit or god perhaps?  We act as if it has a will of it’s own, like it somehow magically disappears or keeps us from our dreams.

The real issue is that we look at money as a weird, mysterious, almost mystical thing that we just don’t have the alchemical wisdom to decipher.  We align with the taboo about the subject that our parents and ancestors have held for so long.  It stems from the pile of ideas like:

  • The only people who talk about money are greedy people
  • Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people
  • You have to work really hard and you will still never make any money

These ideas limit us, and frankly aren’t the TRUTH.  They are possibilities, but they aren’t absolute truths.  What these thoughts actually do is keep you from actually looking at your money, noticing what you are doing and not doing with it, and changing your thinking and actions about it.

Money will tell you exactly what you are doing with it, if you just look.  And it is you that are making the choices around your money.  Money doesn’t actually cause things, it just reflects what you are choosing.

So how can you look at your money more like the modern day Solar Eclipse experience?  Do you need special glasses (perhaps a bookkeeper?) to help you see what is going on?  Can you think about it as a natural result of the Moon moving across the sun (you spending more than you make?)  instead the will of an angry god?

How can money become the thing you actually want to spend time with and look at?  How can you eclipse your past around money?


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like to chat more about your own money eclipse possibilities , just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Follow Your Money

“Follow the money” is a catch phrase about how to solve a “who done it”—it’s a way to put the puzzle pieces together.  What I’m wanting to do is talk a bit more about how that idea relates to our own money.  If we follow our own money what will it tell us?
Let me start by talking about how money works in a company.  Money tells us what’s working and what’s not.  Following the money shows us where the system is asking for help, and where it’s smoothly running.  It’s one of the delights of financial statements.  A company’s financials tell you what’s working well, and where the problems are.  If customers aren’t paying invoices, it shows up in the Accounts Receivable and it points to a problem.  Somehow, the customers aren’t happy.  Now we know where to look to help the company.

It’s exactly the same thing with your money.  What does your money tell you?  Okay, your first response to that question is probably, “There’s not enough of it!” Let’s look a little deeper than that.  That “not enough” answer has some emotion (yours) around it, while money is just trying to be neutral and show you what’s going on.  Where is there not enough?  Where is the money going?  Do you know?  The money will tell you, if you pay attention to it, if you listen to it.  Listening to it may look like using Quicken or creating a spreadsheet to allocate expenses.  It may look like hiring a bookkeeper.  It may look like paying attention to what you’re spending money on when you spend it.  It may look like something more creative than linear, like using my GOSH model. Regardless, if you follow it, it will tell you.

For most of us, the “leakage” problem spending comes through the credit card.  It’s money that gets spent easily, quickly, and without much noticing.  So take a look. Again, what’s money telling you there?

Here’s a way to look at this:  It’s like dieting.  To lose weight you have to eat less and exercise more.  You can find out what you are doing by noticing what you eat and how much you exercise.  We know that if you don’t change those habits, then you will not lose weight.

It’s the same process for food or money!

If “not enough” is the issue, you need to spend less or make more.  Money can actually tell you which.  And if you choose not to look at where money is being spent and how you earn it, it cannot and will not change.

So what would it be like to actually follow your money and find out what it has to say to you?  What might the information it gives you—without emotion—help you to see?


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Want to explore this idea and get some support in deciphering what your money it saying?  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website:

Perfect Bandage Fix

Recently I had the opportunity for the perfect use of a bandage.  Using a bandage can have several connotations.  If can be seen as a temporary fix for a problem –  somehow usually involves lots of duct tape.  We’ve all seen some amusing examples of that one.  Bandages also provide great protection and safety for a boo boo or, owie which is often applied with the help of a kiss. I now have a third use for a bandage.  I’m using it to turn a bit of a downer into a smile!

I achieved a dent on my left side panel of my car awhile ago.  As I explored getting it fixed I realized it was one of those exercises in “what do I want to do with my money“.  The facts were that the quote to fix the car was $1,100, my deductible was $1,000 – ouch!  My 2001 Hyundai Sante Fe actually has less than 90,000 miles on it and is a delight.  Despite that it’s Blue Book value is around $2,000.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I applied my own Money Knot untangling philosophies to this issue.  Spending money to fix the dent didn’t fit in my GOSH Model.  GOSH is my tool to help you see if your spending is aligning with what’s important to you.  In GOSH the ‘G’ is for Growth – nope dent fixing doesn’t do that for me.  ‘O’ stands for Obligation – if I spent  money to fix this it would increase my obligations, instead of keeping them at ‘as low as is reasonable‘, which is the goal for Obligation.  ‘S’ represents Sustaining – the car runs just fine as is, so no pull to fix it from that side.  Finally ‘H’ is for Heart – I do love my car and like it to look nice, but not $1,100 worth!

So if I did spend the money to get it fixed, what would I be doing?  I’d be falling into a Money Trap.  That’s what I call the things that pull us away from spending in alignment with the GOSH Model.  Things like habit, convenience, and ‘It’s on sale’ (Woo Hoo!) are all Money Traps.  They are those things that cause us to look at the credit card statement and ask “Where did it go?”   One of the great things about the GOSH Model and the Money Traps are that they are a bit different for each of us.  What may be Obligation to me, might be Heart for someone else.  For me, if I spent $1,100 to fix a dent in a car that is worth about $2,000 that would clearly be a Money Trap.  I’d  have to call that particular trap the “Vanity/Ego Trap” because it would be solely about ‘lookin’ good’.  Since I still have plenty of miles left on the car and it’s in good condition otherwise, I’d no doubt spend money on other things the car might need to run, but this one is cosmetic not mechanical.

So what Bandage cropdid I do?  I used a wee bit of Heart money and bought the perfect bandage for the car.  She just needed a little acknowledgement of her boo boo, and I needed a way to turn a downer into a smile.

The other principle that  I applied was one from my days as in Interior Designer.  If there is some weird architectural feature that just seems funky, instead of trying to hide it, point to it, make it a feature.  Give it a personality of it’s own!

I hope you enjoy both the perfect bandage fix I applied here, as well as the introduction to the GOSH Model.  If you’d like to explore GOSH more give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at  Meanwhile, avoid those Money Traps whenever possible.


Shell Tain, The Untangler

The Width of an Eyelash

The width of an eyelash is a pretty thin thing in our world, isn’t it?  Around .07 mm.  Really tiny. And yet there is a great quote by Jay McInerney: “The difference between what we want and what we fear is the width of an eyelash.”

eyelashWhen I heard this it struck me – the idea that our desire is right there just waiting is not a new one.  A favorite mythologist/philosopher of mine, Michael Meade, speaks of how the “gift” is right next to the “wound”.  There is an old story about maggots cleaning away the rot to find the gold underneath.  There are “double edged swords” and “good news/bad news” adages. We’ve been up against this, as humans, for many years in many ways.

And here’s the rub:  It’s our fear that holds us back.  Fear isn’t tangible, it has no actual weight or body in the world.  It’s not even as wide an as an eyelash because it’s in our head.

It has great power because, and only because, we give it that power.  I know we all have fears, I know they rule us, torture us and belittle us.  And we have a choice about them, don’t we?

They aren’t the truth, they are beliefs.  The truth would be something that is always, 100{d17d1c7cbc79c3528c645ea839b9b4dcb45f699f05bb148e76e09641ba980643} of the time, the same.  A belief is something we hold in our thoughts as if it were the truth.  It may be something we have had experience with so we believe it…and yet…it is not the only possibility.  The other possibilities may be ones that seem unlikely to us but they are there.

Very few things in life are absolute truth, most are beliefs.  Things we have a choice about.  How we are with money is one of those choice places.  I’m not saying it’s easy (although it could be) to change your beliefs and thinking about money…but it is absolutely possible because your thoughts about money aren’t the truth, they are beliefs.

More often than not the money stuff we believe is based on confusing the role and purpose of money with our feelings about money.  Those feelings that we developed really early, that weren’t actually about money, but were about things too scary and confusing for our little kid selves to face.  We dumped the angst, worry and fear on money.  Over the years we have built on that belief.

And now there it is, just the width of an eyelash away – what we want.  We will have to give up the fear, move through it and leave it behind to get there.

Give it a shot…just the width of an eyelash…ahhh.


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Struggling with change the belief? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Money’s Wish List

So what do we do with Money over the holidays?  Most of us use it and ignore it at the same time.  We spend it with the idea that we will catch up with it in January.  Actually, it’s more like April.  It takes that long for many people to catch up with, or recover from, their holiday spending.

At the very least it seems we put our money thinking on hold.  And yet what do we expect from Money during December?  We earnitexpect it to be there.  We expect it to stretch to meet our needs and desires.  We expect it to magically appear.  And we expect it to do all this cheerfully.  Hmm.

Remember that thing about how we are going to be in relationship with Money all our lives? How about the question: “If we knew we were going to be in relationship with a person forever how would we want that relationship to be?”  I’m guessing that we wouldn’t expect anyone we were in relationship with to do what we expect of Money over the holidays.

So what might Money want?  What’s on Money’s wish list? You’ll have to ask your Money to find out. (Yes, talking to your Money is a good thing.)

Here’s what I think Money will say to you.  I think it wants what everyone really and truly wants.  It wants your time and attention.  It wants to have a shared experience of deep caring with you.  Well, isn’t that what we want from our loved ones?  Stuff comes and goes and frankly it’s very few presents that make a lasting impression.  What we want is positive time together.  Money just wants some of your time and attention.  It might even want your acknowledgment and appreciation for the frenzy you put it through during the holidays.

And Money as a loved one?  That may be throwing you off but think about it.  Sometimes Money doesn’t give us everything we want but neither does family.  Sometimes we have to work really hard to keep things going with Money and the same with family.  Sometimes Money seems to let us down and so does family.  And sometimes Money comes through and helps us, just like family.

Money will be with you longer than family.  You will interact with Money every day.  What’s the relationship you want?  What’s the relationship Money is asking you for?

Oh, and Money has some obstacles in communicating with you, doesn’t it?  It can’t talk to you; it has to get your attention in other ways.  What if you tried to notice what it might be trying to say?   What might that bounced check be saying?  What might the pile of unopened bills be saying?  And what might the unexpected money that lands in your lap be saying?

So check in with your Money and see what its wish list looks like for this holiday season.  Can you possibly fit in giving Money a bit of what it’a asking for now?  Maybe there is something on Money’s wish list you could give it?

If you’d like to explore how you and Money can get along together better, give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Money’s Job

Most of us have an odd idea of what money’s job is.  We treat it as if it was a sentient being.  It’s amazing how much this abstract construct has become a force that we presume acts on its own.  We wait for money to give us signals before we act.  We blame money for our not being where we want to be in life.  We refuse to look at our money because we are sure that it will lecture us or shame us.  Money is doing its job, it’s just different than what we expect.

Many of us are waiting for something from money.  Some sign that we are okay or have “arriveMoney-Talksd”.  I’ve talked with people who feel that they can’t actually pursue the life they “really” want until they have somehow earned enough money to deserve it.  At the same time others feel that not having amassed “enough” money is a fatal character flaw that they must hide.   Others tend to spend what they don’t have.

These and other similar ideas come from not really understanding what money’s job is.  All money is doing trying to tell you what you are doing.  Money doesn’t tell you what you wish you were doing, it tells you what you are actually doing.  It has no judgement, it just reports and reflects.  As a matter of fact, it reflects very clearly.

Remember that old thing about “Try to pick up a pencil?”  It was one of those things I experienced in a Personal Growth training years ago.  You can’t actually “try”… you either pick it up or you don’t.   There is similar way that we “try” with money.  We want money to be there before we take a step or make a choice but money can’t do that.  All money does is show what we are up to.  So what it shows is that we are “trying” to have money do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.

There is more truth than we know in the “Do what you love, the money will follow,” statement, because that’s all the money can do.  It follows or reflects what you are doing.  It shows that you are waiting.  It shows that you are accepting things that are contrary to your dreams, hopes and desires. It shows whether or not you are doing “what you love.”

Okay, I can feel your inner critic voice rising up and saying, “That’s nuts, I can’t just ignore all the responsibilities I have!”  That’s absolutely true.  And is it at all possible that you could honor your responsibilities in a way that has you also honoring your dreams and desires?  What if you stop waiting for money to tell you when? What if you changed to you telling money, by how you use and earn it, what is truly important to you?   It’s your job after all, not money’s.  Money is doing its job.  It’s reflecting what you are really up to.  It will show you if you look.   Money isn’t designed to generate something on its own.  It’s designed to convert your energy into your wishes.  That’s what it’s doing.   If you want something different it’s up to you to change your actions, then money will reflect those changes.

If you’d like to explore this tangle give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Money in the First Position

Ever do that thing where you go into the store and head directly for the sale rack as if it’s the only thing available?  Or maybe you stayed at a job you hated because they gave you a raise?  These are just a couple of examples of the Money Trap I call Money in the First Position, and it’s a stinker!

First let me explain what a Money Trap is.  A Money Trap is somethimoney trapng that takes you off course.  It’s like a hole you fall into, and a trap that snares you.  When it comes to our money it is specifically something that takes you away from your goals, values and dreams.  It’s, above all, a distraction from your purpose.  There are bunches of these traps out there.  Some are common to most of us and some are yours alone.  This Money in the First Position one is pretty common.

The title comes from a nod to bank loans.  The main mortgage on your home is in “the first position”.  What that really means is if something happens to your home whoever has that “first” gets paid “first”.  I call this Money Trap “Money in the First Position” because what happens is that money is the first thing you consider, and often the only thing.

But wait you say, isn’t money an important thing to consider?  Yes, it certainly is.  The trap is when it’s the ONLY thing or when money is given too much weight.  There is nothing I like more than finding a great price for something I want.  The problem is when I buy it based on the price even if it’s not really what I want

Money is an important part of most decisions but we get in trouble when it’s the only part.  Dr. Phil has a great line about this: “If you marry for money, you earn every penny.”  It’s a big price to pay!

People often use Money in the First Position to actually protect themselves from having to explore new territory.  By asking the cost of something first you can dismiss it as “too expensive”.  That’s one of the most common results of this trap.  We dismiss something because of the price before we even really know what it is and what its value may be.  It would most likely be more effective to buy a pair of slacks that fit perfectly and you wore every week for twice or even three times the money you paid for the “perfectly adequate” on sale pair…and if you have the Money in the First Position trap running you, then you won’t even give that a chance.

The real problem with all of this is misunderstanding money.  Getting more money or a better deal isn’t the goal.  Getting what you truly desire or want and having the money (cost) make sense is the goal.   That’s the sweet spot.

So notice where you put money in your decision making.  Is it top of the pile?  It is the only thing you consider?  Or is it an important factor mixed in with other things that are also relevant?

I can help you untangle this and other Money Traps, give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Social Status and Money

Seems like they go hand in hand, doesn’t it? The more status, the more money, and people often hope the reverse is true: the more money, the more status. We’ve lived with this hierarchical model for millennia.  And there is money right there in the middle of it.  But what is money’s role in this?  And what other choices do we have?

Anthropologically forming groups of “us” and “them” is a very human thing to do.  Money and what we do with it helps define our group, doesn’t it?  It’s a chicken/egg thing.Pyramid (as an illustration of social status and money)
This is another place where we think money is defining what is going on. However, what I think it really does is reflect our desire to be accepted or comfortable—or maybe even both.

I notice that we get nervous when we are out of our social comfort zone.  Those places where we feel comfortable are ingrained.  We are also very adept at recognizing them.  I remember once while house hunting, we found a great house.  It was perfect on many levels and the thought that went through my head was “I’d have to put on makeup and get dressed to go to the mail box here!”  I’d hit a true “social ceiling”: It wasn’t about money, the house was right on the money, it was something else. I’d like to think that it just felt too “stuffy” for me.  Who knows?

What I do know is that when we tie our money to the “social status” game we create more havoc in our personal finances.   We create a Money Trap.  You’ve heard me talk about them before.  Money Traps are things that steal away our attention from what is truly important to us.  They distract us and have us spending on things that we don’t really care about.  In the status game we somehow think that driving the more expensive car will move us up the social ladder and that doing that will make us happy.  It’s more likely that it will just keep us spinning to have more, instead to figuring out what we actually think that illusive “more” will create.

Here’s an example:  I once worked on the management team of a new shopping center in Thousand Oaks, California.  It was the late 70s and this mall, called the Oaks, was a big deal.  It had a full mile of stores inside the mall before you even walked into the department stores at either end. It was a very expensive mall with high-end stores.  The odd thing is that in finding the site, getting the permits, and building the mall, the developers had never really done any demographic research.  Thousand Oaks was a suburb of L.A.  It had nice houses.  It looked good from the outside.  However, for most of the families the husband drove a nice car into L.A. every day to work.  The wife stayed home with the 2.3 kids, drove an old car, and shopped at Target.   The home had lovely furniture on the first floor.  Upstairs there were mattresses and unfinished furniture in the bedrooms.  The developer had looked at the outside image to decide what the inside economics was like.  I felt bad for the families.  For me, it wasn’t that they couldn’t “afford” what they wanted.  It was that they were living a lie.  Looking at the money we can see that.  Looking at the outside we don’t.

What we really want is to belong. To be one of the “cool” kids. The problem is that most of the “cool” kids are longing to be one of the even “cooler” kids.  There’s the trap.  It’s the trap that I once heard described as “comparing our insides to other people’s outsides.”

So money doesn’t actually make any of this social status happen, it just reflects how hard we are striving for it and what we will do to get it.  My guess is that if we could all get clearer about that we might make different choices, ones that might have us feel happier.

If you’d like to untangle that just give me a call at 503-258-1630 or contact me through my website at:


Shell Tain, The Untangler