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Why I Didn’t Pay Myself for Four Years

I'm Michelle!

I’ve been studying and working with women for more than 20 years. I've learned who we are and what we need.

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This is a hard one to admit, and frankly something I haven’t ever shared publicly because if I’m honest, I still hold some shame and embarrassment around it. But I feel like this is a really important conversation for us to have as women, and as Brene Brown teaches us, the best way to get rid of shame is to shine the light on it and talk about it.

After opening my brick and mortar healing center, I didn’t pay myself for four years.

Now, the first couple years were hard, as are most small businesses in the beginning, and so there wasn’t enough money for me to take home. The next couple of years however, money was coming in, but there were always expenses and business needs that took center stage and left me out of the equation.

Even though I was running the show, and leading most of the classes and programs, I was last on the list to bring home a paycheck. I worked endless hours, served thousands of people, and didn’t take home any money. It was a secret I harbored for years that drilled a hole in my heart.

It was my ultimate expression of self-sacrifice, a pattern I learned well from my mother.

Now, I could talk for hours explaining the behind-the-scenes of not paying myself, and why I didn’t. I could tell you all the things that got in the way, the money woes and financial ups and downs, but as a friend and money coach Elizabeth Husserl once said to me, “it’s never about the money, honey.” So let’s break it down. Here are the two main reasons I did not pay myself.

  1. I was so used to not making money in my early years, and to not having any money in my bank account, that somewhere deep inside of me, I believed that was what I was worth. Nothing. So when money did come in, I would subconsciously find other places to invest or spend it. The money always had a better place to go, therefore it could not come to me. It was an expression of self-sabotage, rooted in old beliefs that I was not worthy.
  2. I learned from watching my mother that women are meant to sacrifice their health, wellbeing, truth, and (in this case) money for others. Somewhere in my DNA there was a belief that women should give and give with nothing in return.

These patterns were passed down from generations before me. They are ancient. And thankfully, my business brought them to the surface so that I could see them and heal them. This is something I have been working on for years, and will most likely be a life-long practice.

But here’s the thing, and why I share this story. I see these same patterns in women I work with every day. Sometimes the women I talk to make lots of money and have plenty in their bank account, but they will not and cannot invest in themselves. There is always something much more pressing and necessary that needs their money. Their own needs come last. 

Sometimes I talk to business owners like myself, or women in jobs that don’t pay well. They resent the job, feel undervalued, but they stay there anyway, because they don’t believe they are worth anything more. They don’t believe there is something better out there for them.

These patterns of scarcity run so deep in women that they keep us living small. They keep us living from depletion and burn-out. They keep us believing that we are not worthy of investment, of care, of growth, of love.

Money, and how we do and don’t spend it, is a topic I think we need to shed more light on. Money is all wrapped up in self-sacrifice, and the quiet, underlying beliefs that live in our DNA.

Let’s talk about it and start to break these patterns together. Join me this Sunday for a very special Sunday Service called Money and Self-Sacrifice.

We gather at 9am PST in our private group. It’s a free offering, and if you can’t make it live, catch the recording on your own time.


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Hi, I’m Michelle. Your Soul Midwife.

I've led thousands of women back to themselves and to a truer life. As a devoted business owner and mother of two teenagers, I know what it’s like to hold the weight of multiple worlds, and how easy it is to abandon yourself in the overwhelm.

Through my own transformation and 20 years of working closely with women, I developed The Practice®, a sacred system that teaches women leaders how to reclaim their lives and live without self-sacrifice.

Learn more

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