Rick’s note: Our "guest blogger" today is Olivia Mellan, psychotherapist, money coach, speaker and business consultant, who hosts "Money Harmony with Olivia Mellan" on WWDB-AM 860 on Wednesdays at 10 am in the Philadelphia area. She’s appeared frequently on the TODAY show, Oprah, and ABC’s 20-20. Her column, "The Psychology of Advice," appears regularly in Investment Advisor magazine.
by Olivia Mellan
More than 20 years ago, my professional and personal life was changed forever when a colleague, with whom I was about to offer workshops, said, “You know – we should really do one on money. It’s harder to talk about money than sex or childhood trauma.”
I realized that when clients were in my therapy office, and the topic of money (rarely) came up, it was as if there were ghosts of family members sitting all around – their ghosts and my own – and NOBODY was talking about it. So we did the first “money harmony” workshop in 1983, helping individuals and couples explore their ongoing, lifelong relationship to money.
We discovered that not only was this the last taboo (and for some, it still is!) – but that when you unload the symbol of money and what it represents, you are provided with the most wonderful opportunity for personal, spiritual, emotional (and financial!) growth and transformation.
I never intended to write four books, have my own radio talk show, do teleclasses and workshops, or write a column in Investment Advisor that’s been going on 7 years – but the work was so satisfying that it transformed my professional life into a much more vibrant and varied practice. Some of the most fulfilling activities I’ve loved lately are the teleclasses and workshops I’m doing, and my new call-in radio talk show on WWDB-AM 860 in the Philadelphia area.
The teleclasses are an opportunity for financial professionals, therapists, counselors and coaches (that’s Money Psychology 101 and 201) to learn from each other as they learn from me, and to practice “money harmony” principles and exercises as they do. Reading these folks’ “money dialogues” – conversations between them and their money about how it’s going, with commentary by mom, dad, other strong influences, and God/Higher Power/voice of inner wisdom – is always inspiring to me. Watching them “practice the non-habitual” in their moneylife and come back to talk about it is wonderful, too.
And since I began as a couples therapist (now couples coach), and have specialized in this for over 30 years (gosh, I sound old!), starting a new teleclass exploring gender differences, couples polarization patterns, and good communications tools, seemed the logical next step.
Another exciting area that I’m thinking about is finding deeper meaning in our lives as all of us baby boomers enter their 60’s. (For me, that was last month). Besides writing some spoof songs about the experience (“I Enjoy Being a Crone,” “There Is Nothing Like A Crone,” and “Try to Remember” about memory loss), I loved being on a recent panel in Sarasota, Florida, on “Living Your Legacy – Not Just Leaving It.” Entering the world of ethical wills – where folks write down, videotape, or record their memories, life lessons and precious messages of love and respect to their loved ones – is a vehicle I want to embrace more and more fully in my own life.
Several years ago, when I was about to have surgery for a condition that turned out to be minor, I was moved to write a letter of love and gratitude to my husband, Michael and my son, Aniel. I wanted them to know how filled up I felt in my life, and how much I loved them both. It was the beginning of an “ethical will” for me, and they both loved reading what I wrote and shared. I urge all of you to begin doing this while you are well and fully functioning. It’s never to soon to start!
In general, I enjoy helping folks move from guilt to gratitude, from “poverty consciousness” to rooting themselves in abundance. Once of my favorite exercises to do in my workshops, for those who believe in the money myth that “Money is Happiness,” is to ask folks to write down what makes them happiest, how much it costs to do that, and whether it’s better done alone or with a partner. Invariably, almost everyone comes up with one or both items that cost little or no money (walks in nature with loved ones, sex for free!). So, though having enough money (how much is enough is always an important question!) is important, living a life of balance and meaning is what creates a sense of true abundance. Creating money harmony in the context of life balance is what it’s all about.
I invite you to call into my radio talk show some Wed am EST between 10 am and 11 am (610 664 4100) and ask a question or make a comment. My next live show will be on December 13th (they’re taped repeats till then, since I’m out of town). And consider joining me for my teleclasses, beginning January 2nd and 9th , every other Tuesdays, from 5:30 pm est . Download 0612mellanteleclass_registration_form_january_2_and_9_2007.doc