By Rita Gau
Is it too much to expect to be able to meet your basic needs and have the resources to obtain what contributes to your well-being? Is it too much to expect to be able to pay your rent/mortgage, buy nutritious food, or visit your out-of-state family? What about buying a tube of Carmex, knee socks, a large kitchen spoon, or having car repairs done? How about going to lunch or a movie with a friend? These experiences I describe are part of what creates a fulfilling life. Don’t we all deserve that?
As I turn 64 years old, I am just now learning that I am worthy of being able to meet my basic needs and more. Until recently, I didn’t know that I was supposed to have what I needed to bring me joy and pleasure. Things like basic health, safety, and loving connections with my family and friends seemed so out of reach to me. In the past year or so, I’ve realized that I have been depriving myself of what so many other people take for granted. For instance, the ability to run to the store to buy some glue to repair something in the kitchen, and not have to wait on two paychecks before doing so. Or feeling excited and able to say “yes” to a friend who asks you to join them for a night on the town or a simple dinner out.
These desires and experiences all seem so ordinary and something many people seem to be able to do — but not me. The lack of money and not feeling worthy of having what I need has kept me from being able to enjoy life’s simple pleasures all too often. I haven’t been able to fully live my life in a way that honors me. In discovering that all deserve to live a fulfilling life, I am having to learn how to embody a mindset of worthiness and abundance.
For me, a mindset of abundance includes the freedom to live a life filled with love, joy, financial resources, health, and the ability to provide self-care. The financial freedom to buy nutritious food, proper clothing, and household items for ourselves and our families should be everyone’s birthright. Having the ability to go to a health practitioner and purchase medicine when needed keeps individuals healthy. Providing our loved one with proper caregiving services and making sure our children have school supplies creates a healthy community. That is abundance.
This deprivation I’ve been living with has been extremely painful. I have so often judged and criticized myself, asking: “What’s wrong with me?” and “Why can’t I manage to get a job that pays a livable and prosperous income?” Now that I am older, I see my friends and family retiring, being able to travel, own their own homes, and spend money on what’s important to them. Disconcertingly at age 63, I only have about $30,000 in retirement funds. I have a job that mostly pays for the basics and very few “extras.” If I were to draw social security at this age, it would only be approximately $1,027 a month — adding up to a yearly income of $12,324. That is over $500 below the poverty line.
At times, I feel ashamed and a sense of failure. That little voice in my head tells me that I don’t have what it takes to fully financially support myself. I feel afraid and hopeless as I question how I will ever be able to live a richer life in all its forms. The anxiety, guilt, and sense of defeat I have felt due to not being able to meet my basic needs with ease has resulted in physical symptoms. Grief and self-rejection make appearances often. At times, a sense of futility and not wanting to be on this planet any longer contribute to paralyzingly crippling moments.
Now, at this age, with less physical energy, a slower rhythm, and more time needing to be spent on self-care, I wonder how I will ever ‘catch up.’ I yearn to be able to take care of myself with greater freedom, dignity, to have the ability to meet my needs in a plentiful, healthy, and safe way. In Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong, she writes about “the reckoning, the rumble, the revolution” of the self. It feels like I go back and forth between reckoning with my past, rumbling through the present, and revolutionizing my future, which I am realizing is simply and gloriously the “dance of life.”
Deep down, I know that I am supposed to be thriving rather than just surviving. My many attempts to learn about my roots of poverty and deprivation have been a struggle. I realized that I wasn’t worthy of or even aware that I was supposed to be worthy of being able to meet my needs and to have plenty of whatever contributed to my state of well-being. In order to learn, I read an excellent book called The Trance of Scarcity, by Victoria Castle, which beautifully describes how we have come to believe in the lies of scarcity.
Even with many resources to help me learn how to increase my income, at some point, I got tired of it all. At first going to financial advisors, workshops, practicing prosperity activities and affirmations was an inspiration. It eventually became draining and deepened my already existing state of depression and anxiety.
I know that I have a strong life force within me and I continue to move forward determined that I will not die in destitution. I now realize that I have a right to live with dignity. That we all have the right to experience the richness of life and all the world has to offer us. I am gradually discovering that I am worthy of having a prosperous life and that I am not alone. So many of us are on this journey to find financial freedom and stability. Millions of people are experiencing poverty of mind, body, and spirit. However, I believe this is the time in our spiritual and human evolution to examine our beliefs and actions. We must have the courage to elevate our quality of life.
It’s time to take a stand for abundance! A stand for a society and global family that thrives not only financially, but supports equity and love for one another.
I felt some hope when I learned about an idea called basic income, also known as guaranteed income, which is when a governing body provides a certain amount of money to some members of society. The main purpose of basic income is to be a powerful solution to alleviate poverty. Around the world there are many pilots and studies being conducted on basic income with much success. Here in the U.S. we have seen cash transfer programs launched during the COVID pandemic helping families weather the crisis. In many states, counties, and even cities, pilots are underway and providing data for us to demonstrate the power of cash. An organization called Income Movement is the organization that I’m most familiar with that supports basic income. I feel grateful to know that there are organizations such as this one to support an unconditional monthly income for people who are suffering financially.
If you are struggling financially, I invite you to trust your inner guidance system and know that there is nothing wrong with you, and there never has been. I believe we are here to live full and abundant lives. If you feel moved by the idea of providing abundance to everyone through a guaranteed basic income, then join our efforts with Income Movement. Your voice is powerful, and together we can create a world where there is enough for everyone. A world where we can all thrive, not just survive.
It is not too much to ask for. We are all worthy of living lives abundant with freedom, connection, and joy.
Rita Gau is a basic income community advocate. To learn more about her work, see her on LinkedIn.