After nearly 10 years together, I separated from my life partner in 2022. We have an 8-year-old son together, and, it turned out—a 5-year tax backlog.
My partner had promised he’d do the taxes, but for 5 years, he hadn’t done them.
Newly single, I realized I now needed to stand on my own feet. I wanted to hold my own, including financially—and I wanted for my life to support my spiritual growth and awakening. A huge slog awaited me in the taxes, let alone being on my own.
This is because I operated within the Innocent money archetype. The Innocent is the one who turns their back and hopes that money will figure itself out, who hears the word “money” and runs. The Innocent finds a nice place in the sand to bury their head, so they don’t have to see or take in anything about money.
I learned about this while encountering the Money Archetypes for the first time. In the Money and Spirituality course with Karen McAllister, I encountered all eight of them: The Innocent, The Victim, The Warrior, The Martyr, The Fool, the Creator/Artist, The Tyrant, and The Magician. And when I learned about the Innocent archetype, things began to make sense.
In my learning with Karen, I began to understand how the Innocent archetype presented a blockage. It would take a series of steps for me to get to the place where I took up my own agency, and this was the first step:
1. Look at the blockage.
I didn’t really want to deal with my finances or do any financial planning. I did most of my budgeting based on feeling, without exactly knowing what the situation looked like and I had conveniently outsourced our tax declarations to my partner. So, while he had promised to do our taxes for five years and didn’t, I had also turned a blind eye on it. It takes two to tango. And of course this went beyond the taxes: We didn’t discuss finances, how to manage, share, or deploy them together; we didn’t have a financial plan. I looked at this blockage. I saw it. The next step was understanding.
2. Understand the blockage.
I didn’t want to look at anything financial. Facing finances wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time. I came to understand that I let money matters overwhelm me, and that I outsourced my money agency—because I didn’t want to deal with money in the first place. Plus, I thought I could skate by and make it through in this state of hiding and avoiding. I thought things would just figure themselves out, like I wanted them to. But clearly, this isn’t true, and it was time to address the issue.
3. Get the tools to dissolve your blockage and overcome this issue.
The amazing thing—the tools to address any issue exist! I simply had to find and use them. In my case, for the taxes, it just took getting to work. I did some research online and took a course on taxes for sole proprietors by the New School of Finance. Then I found myself an accountant by tapping into my network. The accountant was very DIY-oriented, so I did the heavy lifting: listing my expenses and earnings. When the accountant came up with an estimate, what relief I felt that it was out in the open! Before, as an Innocent, I couldn’t manage my money in full integrity because I refused to deal with money head-on in the first place.
Then, in the 6-month Money and Spirituality small group coaching, I was encouraged to finish a course in sustainable investment, which increased my financial literacy even further. Karen asked me to do a presentation to the rest of the group about it, which helped me hone in on the new knowledge and expand my money repertoire to support what I deeply care about. I gained the tools to be able to put my money where my heart is, and share that with others. To begin to do so, I had to name my desires.
An important part of the work with Karen was to establish a daily generosity practice in order to recognize the natural flow of money. This continues to be a hard one for me. I understood that generosity starts with myself. If I cut myself short, I can’t be truly generous with others. I also found out that I often am generous but don’t even recognize it.
4. Identify what you want.
You can’t get to where you want and what you want if you don’t name what it is. I began the process. I identified what I wanted, without compromise and with clarity: First and foremost, I want spiritual growth and awakening. Clarifying that I want to be able to fund my spiritual growth meant recognizing that it takes money to do so. And, it is my desire to live in an intentional spiritual community, which is in the works with the Awaken in Toronto sangha, which I belong to and study under the guidance of Lama Linda. That takes money, talking about money, and it involves financial planning. The spiritual and the material aren’t separate, after all.
Beyond that, I want to be able fund my son’s education, and then there’s my retirement. And I want to choose how I participate in the money system, dealing with money in a way that aligns with my values.
5. Don’t let others dictate what you want.
In addition to clarifying what I want, I also needed to let go of what is conditioned. I cannot let others dictate what I want. We’re easily influenced by society and our upbringing/family and cultural values, but as only we can take up our own agency and create the change we truly want in our lives, only we can really clarify what it is that we really want in the first place. I find, specifically in North America, people still think you need a car, and you need a house, and you need an I don’t know what else to be happy. The bottom line here is, that you really ask yourself, “What is it that I want?”
6. Tackle it. Do it. Just do it.
You’ve been doing the work of clarifying what you want, and you have an idea of what you want. Now, it’s time to make it happen. You have to put in the work, and the universe will respond. I am just learning to trust this. But you have to do it—just do what it is that needs to be done. No running. No excuses. Every goal requires a plan, every destination some sense of route. You will need to learn the playful dance of putting in the work, and opening up to the universe, repeatedly. You must make your best effort, without attachment to results, and then allow things to take their natural course, over and over. Work, space, work, space. For me, with the taxes and sustainable investment, to begin with, it meant simply sitting down at the table and running through the steps of the process. One, by one, one step at a time. But progress, in the realm of money and human advancement, does not happen on its own. We have to do the work, recognize where we are caught in false beliefs and conditioning, and then let go.
In essence, I’ve been doing shadow work. It is a process; it is “work in progress.” I am not shying away from what is uncomfortable. I no longer feel out of control and overwhelmed about money. I have faced my Innocent side and am growing more and more into the Warrior and Magician. I have taken up my own agency and know that I can make the difference in my own life and in the world that I want to make. There is a vision of the future that I do want, and I have learned how to pave my way there one step at a time. I’m learning how to not limit myself—and in all of this growth, my understanding of and capacity for generosity expands, too. More and more, I’m becoming the being I really want to be.