Ivonne Senn

What is the opposite of love?

For years I would have answered: hatred. But now I know it is fear.

With hatred we feel safer. It is a outbound, a force against something
Fear is within us. Against us. It makes us feel small.

Fear is the opposite of love.

You don’t hate your bank balance,
you fear that you have to change something in your life.

You don’t hate your full schedule,
you fear who or what you were without all these appointments, what people or yourself think about you if you don’t manage to do all you think your are supposed to do.

You don’t hate your ex,
you are afraid that he doesn’t value you.

Six years ago in March. The day that I thought I would die.

But as it turned out, it was only the life I knew until then that had to end. Lulled in to a false sense of security by six years of getting my invoices paid on time, I committed the cardinal fault of all freelancers: I didn't build up any reserves for hard times. But now the payments were coming in six to eight weeks late. My credit line was often at its limit. I used my tax reserves to cover running expenses. And to cap it off I received a letter from the IRS teaching me a new word: retroactive advance. Meaning they wanted money, a lot of money, as an advance for the previous year.

The only place I thought I could turn to was my bank. But the same credit institute that tried to lure me into prolonging my loan only two months ago, now couldn't 'constitute my wishes' anymore. Neither the full amount nor half of it or anything. A good reminder of the old saying: Be careful what you wish for. Because when I made my last payment for the old loan I swore to myself to never, ever again take on another credit. The emotional prize I paid for the last ten years was simply too high. Seems the bank had answered my prayer.

But the prize of freedom was even higher. Or so it felt. In my mind's eye I saw the bailiff put his sticker on everything I owned – which wasn't much to begin with. I was paralyzed by fear of losing everything. I could not eat, I could not sleep, I could not think. Like a deer in the headlights I froze and didn't know what to do.

My sister's offer to lend me a part of the money awakened me from my state of shock. As soon as I could breathe a little easier and my brain got its necessary supply of oxygen again I realized I needed help. Big time. This whole dilemma didn't happen overnight. For years my credit line had been my 'second salary' and up to this date everything always worked out somehow. But I was done with 'somehow'. I wanted to understand why I had a handle on all parts of my life except money.

Ivonne SennFor over three years now, I am working as a Money Coach. Recently I looked through my notes and revelations, and all of a sudden, I discovered a pattern. My client’s money worries could all be sorted into seven distinctive categories. Further research about what people in general think, feel and say about money supported my theory. Therefore, I have a new website now that focuses on the seven worries about money, because everybody has at least one of them. My main worry for the last fifteen years was “I earn good money, yet at the end of the month I got nothing left”. However, I also had times were my income as a freelancer was not enough and did not match my expenses. And if I had known back then, what I know now, I would never have filed for bankruptcy but instead set off together with my husband to get out of our debt on our own.

On my homepage, I introduce all seven money worries. By pressing “Read on” you will find further explanations and my recommendation which of my coaching programs is the best to overcome your worries.

There have been other changes, too. For one, that my page is now available in english. Plus, I have broadened my coaching programs.

This is one of the pieces I wrote at the Gateless Writing Retreat in Vermont this summer - after we had our coaching sessions with the horses. I never felt as safe in exploring my inner demons than on this day with Nicole Birkholzer and her beautiful horses Shana and Cutter - and, of course, Sammy the goat - as my guides. I love you all to pieces.

Orange Is the New Green

Phew, yet another woman was picked by Shana. I got away again. Maybe we will run out of time so I can offer to “just do this another time”. Because although I did not know what I would work on with the horses, I knew that it would not be pleasant. Neither for me to experience, nor for the audience to watch.

You know those women who look so adorable when they cry? Big tears rolling slowly out of shimmering eyes over firm pink tinted cheeks? Well, that’s not me.

But the time didn’t run out. My face told it all when I got up, put my scarf on the chair and headed to the barn – going unarmed to the battle, because no man-made weapons could me help me in this fight.
I don't want to do this – but I know I must. Not because somebody forced me, or because I would be a spoil-sport when I didn’t. You cannot force horse work, and you cannot spoil a sport that is none. No, there was this feeling of inevitability. Like watching two cars on collision course, knowing what’s going to happen, but being unable to prevent it.

Still I didn’t know that it would be about. Some of the same old issues I am so tiered of, I supposed. Am I loveable, am I beautiful, how can I get my coaching practice working or what should I do with my life. I fell deeply asleep just thinking of them.

Eight weeks ago, when inspired by Dave Ursillo to write this post, I thought about sharing a couple of exercises you could do every day to get a better feeling for your money.

But then I had a total shut down of my body, my mind, even my soul. There was either “on” – staying in motion somehow – or “off” – fall asleep instantly. But there was no fun, no joy, no concentration, no inner peace. I always ask my clients: „Who is the most important person in your life.” And yet, over the last couple of months I somehow forgot the answer to this question: “Me.” You see, if you don’t take good care of yourself, you cannot take good care of anything else. And even the smallest exercise to strengthen your relationship with money (or other people, your work etc.) will drain you and make matters even worse.

That’s why today I say, the daily practice starts with something totally different than I thought. Not with little exercises for your money. But with little exercises for the balance in our life.

I’ve done it again. I had a totally normal week–working five days, having the weekend off. And now it’s Sunday at noon I am ... cranky. Because the 5-Day-Week does not suit me well. It took me some time to figure this out. Sure, in the beginning it was good to work like I had for decades. That’s five years ago when I became a real freelancer. Before I was what we call a “steady freelancer”, I worked as a freelancer in my client’s companies, including eight hours of presence and half an hour lunch break. And so, in the beginning, you could find me on my desk at home from 9 to 5 every day. It helped to get into my new job and to see if I could do what I had planned – translating 10 books a year without going insane.

After the first year I realized, that a) I could not translate for more than five hours a day, until my fingers stopped working and started to produces more typos than useful sentences. And b) that I did not need to work longer, because mainly I was done with my work around 2 p.m., even if I had only started at 10 a.m.

The First Step to Independence

That was the first step to real independence. I noticed that I translated much better and faster in the morning, so I set up a rule:

I still remember where I was when I decided to let go off my fear around money. In my car on one of the many bridges in my hometown Hamburg. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I opened the window and handed my fear over to the wind. The first days that followed were like a roller coaster ride, blinded and without a safety bar. I never realized how much structure the fear gave to my life. When you live in fear of everything related to your money, you know exactly how to behave when the bank statements come in, when you get a letter from the IRS, when you hand over your debit card in the grocery store at the end of the month. You know that your stomach will tighten, your breathing will get shallow, your pulse will skyrocket. But if you take away the fear – you are totally lost. All of a sudden you have control over the situation, you can decide how you want to react. All of a sudden Big Mama Fear is not there to take care of you anymore. All of a sudden you are mature.

In hero tales and movies and books they say you have to look your fear in the eye to overcome it. In my experiences this is impossible.