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Me hiking trying to get grounded

Wu Wei, More Play – Overcoming Poverty Mentality

As I look forward to 2024, there's a recurring theme quietly asserting itself in my thoughts. More play, less "work." More fun, joy, and ease. Less heaviness, seriousness, and importance.

Happy Friday! It’s Jeff Finley here, with the sixth edition of the Finley Fridays newsletter. Hope you had a delightful end to 2023 as we get 2024 rolling. I’m sure you’re thinking about New Year’s Resolutions and getting bombarded with life advice from every which way.

As I look forward to 2024, there’s a recurring theme quietly asserting itself in my thoughts. More play, less “work.” More fun, joy, and ease. Less heaviness, seriousness, and importance.

Me trying to get grounded, attempting to feel “deeply okay.”

Why So Serious?

When I look back on 2023, I noticed how serious it felt. A big milestone last year was my girlfriend Cara and I moved into our first apartment together. It could have been a joyful process, but it was very stressful.

It led to several of our worst fights in our relationship and at the center of every argument was money. Most about how I would complain about not being able to afford what we wanted and feeling like a victim to an oppressive economic system.

It would trigger all of my childhood wounding. I grew up near poverty and Cara grew up middle class and didn’t have to worry about money. But I did. I felt like I was bringing us down.

We would drive up to visit my family for New Year’s Eve and a late Christmas. It was clear that money issues weren’t just my issues, but everyone there had something to say about how hard it is to make ends meet. There were several “jokes” made alluding to me and Cara as suburban yuppies who can afford iPhones. Heh.

I was quick to downplay it like, “Oh no I’m not rich! I’m struggling too!” But then I thought, why am I saying that? Why am I shrugging off any concept of me being wealthy or having any level of financial comfort? It’s not a competition to see who has it worse! But it feels like that when I go visit my family sometimes.

Whenever I drive up there, back to my old stomping grounds where I grew up, I get this sinking feeling in my stomach. It feels dark, heavy, and like a swirling vortex of doom (not the cool musical kind). Driving past one of my old neighborhoods felt exactly how you would expect driving past a blighted, run-down, not-quite-trailer park would be.

Underneath all their complaints about money and society is pain. Just real pain and grief. I know it because it was behind all of mine. Behind the cynicism, conspiratorial beliefs, and snarky sarcasm is a lot of pain, bitterness, and resentment. All of which come from broken homes, abusive parents, and an unfair system. Poverty begets more poverty.

My sister went into detail about her abusive first boyfriend who wouldn’t let her get a driver’s license. She literally had to escape and get rescued by another guy who would eventually become her husband. But if you look closer at her abusive boyfriend, you’ll see he grew up the neglected twin brother in another poverty stricken household that forced the kids to sell drugs to make ends meet.

Cara had a bit of a wake up call. She felt privileged and fortunate that she never had to suffer through that. She has her own struggles, but money wasn’t one of them. She understood better why I have some of the beliefs and insecurities I do.

This is why I work so hard at changing my beliefs and mindset. Why I work so hard at building positive habits and healing childhood trauma. So it’s not that I have no ambition or drive, it’s that it has been directed at the “inner work” for the past ten years.

So all of that is heavy. I know. It’s very heavy.

When I got back home, I had some pretty severe back pain. I did an IFS session on myself and made connections to “backbreaking labor” and my Dad’s perpetual struggle with herniated discs and scoliosis. I also felt I was carrying the burden of still trying to heal and fix my Mom and Dad. That these money issues I struggle with aren’t all MINE exactly and much of it comes from my family lineage.

I got this sense that I am ready to let that go. It’s not my responsibility or duty to absorb all the heavy pain and grief from my family and be the one to transmute and heal it. Like I’m some special lightworker.

Letting Go, Letting Things Be Easy

I felt a desire to move out of this phase of healing the heavy shit and wanting to embrace more play, lightness, ease, and joy without the guilt or sense of loyalty and responsibility to other people’s pain.

I want to choose to live a life where it’s okay to have a fun happy experience here on Earth. That I’m deeply okay and it’s safe for me to play again. Safe for me to not take things so seriously.

That’s my New Year’s Resolution this year.

Reduce importance. Relax more. Have more fun. Play. Be less serious. Less trying and more flowing.

Learning to Celebrate

Last weekend, I confided in Cara that I really wanted to celebrate my recent accomplishments instead of just moving onto the next thing so fast. I admitted that I had a hard time actually feeling celebratory.

I know other people celebrate. They’ll have drinks with friends and really let loose. I picture groups of people cheering, raising their glass, and enjoying themselves.

But I tend to just stay solitary. Keep my head down. If I do celebrate, I’ll reward myself with going out to eat or getting a coffee somewhere. But that’s it. There’s a brief feeling of accomplishment that’s soon overshadowed by a realization that more work needs to be done.

Cara took the initiative to take me out to celebrate me. It was hard to believe someone would actually do that, without a catch. I didn’t want to feel to egotistical, but I allowed it.

She bought me a delicious crepe from the market and raised her glass in support of all the work I’ve done. Not just in the material realms where other people can see, but in the metaphysical realms that change my being and character in ways she benefits from every day. The kind of thing that goes unnoticed, but Cara sees it. My worth to her is a lot more than just how much money I’m bringing in.

She kept saying to me, “Wu Wei… Wu Wei…” I was like, “what??” She said look it up. I groaned and was like, I’ll do that later. I finished my crepe. When I did finally look it up, it was like ohhh yeah this is exactly what I need!

Wu Wei in a nut shell

Wu Wei

Wu Wei is a Taoist concept emphasizing the idea of “effortless action” or “action through non-action.”

I watched a few ​YouTube videos​ on it and everything about it felt right to me. It’s something I was sorely missing. More Yin energy. Reminders to surrender, allow everything to be as it is, stop striving, just be.

In Reality Transurfing, they call this “outer intention” as opposed to “inner intention” or your inner drive. Outer Intention is basically the flow. The Universe. God’s will. When you consciously let go, you trust that your world is going to work with you and provide you with what you need. This is the balance of Yin/Yang.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

I’ve been hustling so hard the last few months.

Anyone who has known me for a long enough time knows that I was a big proponent of hustle culture, ​waking up early at 5 AM​ to focus on personal growth, habit change, and productivity. I used to be a big fan of Gary Vee and those like him. Not much anymore.

I was good at hustling and turning my ideas into reality. But I got burned out big time. I couldn’t keep up with constant pressure to keep working and hustling. Perhaps that’s just Western Culture and our inherent values. The protestant work ethic.

While I have a natural default state of “doing and achieving” there’s a small but powerful voice within urging me to “rest and just be.” But there’s so much shame and guilt wrapped up in that.

I’m always kind of scared to do it. Scared to rest. Scared to do nothing. How do I “just be” without my mind thinking we need to do something productive or turn this into a self-improvement exercise?

This is what’s called the “self-improvement paradox”. Where you can be doing all the hallmarks of self-care but it starts to feel like just another chore or task. There’s no finish line. There’s always more to do. You are doing so much self-improvement that you can’t get off the treadmill for the fear of falling behind again.

At what point can you say you’re done?

That you’re healed? Then what?

You can be doing all the good stuff like meditation, yoga, walks in nature, journaling, pomodoro timers, productivity hacks, digital minimalism, soothing baths, reading, mindful media consumption, proper therapy or retreats, etc. but your cup never really feels full enough. Why is that?

It’s like we can dedicate a full day to “me time” but never quite feel like we’re filling our cup. We still find ourselves depleted.

I think part of it is how our own minds are constantly feeling “on the clock” and we never truly feel like we’re off the hook. We’re always “on call” even when we’re trying to be away.

Perhaps this is a product of smart phones and being always available. We’re always online, afraid that if we are truly unavailable somehow we’ll drop the ball. We’ll let someone down. Someone will need us when we’re “selfishly” taking time to ourselves.

That’s another thing, feeling like we’re “selfish” for practicing self care. Feeling lazy if we need to rest. We can be spending all day in bed “resting” but our minds are still thinking about what needs done.

It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

So in 2024, I’d like to change that. Concepts like Wu Wei, sincerity over seriousness, reducing importance, more play and having more fun are all states of being I’d like to embody more. Letting go of this over-responsibility and over-importance. Trusting that things will get done and everything will be okay.

What about you?

What else I’ve been into this week:

That’s about all for this week. Thanks for reading!



Jeff Finley
Jeff Finley

Jeff is a graphic artist, designer, musician, writer, and mystic with a passion for truth and personal growth. He's the author of Wake Up, Maker/Mistaker, and Thread's Not Dead, as well as the creator of Starseed Supply Co. Learn more about him here.

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