I want to tell you a story about a tree with some wonderful fruit, but first I have to tell you about the snakes —and the ladders. No, this is not Bible study. Let me explain…
Snakes and ladders
I grew up in a prosperous family. By normal standards I guess you could say we were quite wealthy. By the age of about 40 my parents had achieved all of their dreams in life.
My dad was a successful surgeon, my parents had invested well in real estate and grew a sizeable fortune, they had three kids (I was the youngest) and we all lived in a huge waterfront architect-designed dream home on the shores of a beautiful lake in Canada. But for some reason, despite achieving their dreams – or maybe because of it – my parents weren’t happy. They started to drink. I guess that wealth and success were not the answer they’d been looking for.
Personally, I think they probably both had childhood wounds that money and prosperity didn’t quite fix for them… but that’s just my take on it.
When I was about eight years old I started to notice the drinking was getting bad. By ten it was out of control. Just before I turned eleven, my parents broke up in a spectacular train wrecking of their marriage, life and finances. Somehow all the money was gone… I don’t even know the full story as to where it all went. All I know is that I ended up living with my mother, who declared bankruptcy, and we were being assisted by welfare.
It was like getting a bad roll of the dice in a game of snakes and ladders. Suddenly I was at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder!
Fast forward 30 years, and I was 41, about the same age my parents had been when they lost everything. It was 2008, the year of the global financial crisis. I had amassed my own fortune in business, financial markets and real estate… and as the global economy melted down, I suddenly found myself on the verge of bankruptcy too.
It was a case of history repeating.
The finer details of how that happened are not important. What’s important is that I realised two things:
1) that somehow I was recreating the experience of my childhood, of the extremes of wealth and loss; and
2) I needed to make a change… and the change I needed to make was in my own subconscious mental programming.
The tree of abundance
Through my own process of reprogramming my life, I came up with a framework for understanding how to achieve a radical shift towards abundance that I call “The Tree of Abundance”.
The tree of abundance has five stages of growth, and when you get them in place in the right way, and in the right order, then amazing things happen. That is: growth beyond your wildest dreams.
Stage 1 – the roots
In the tree of abundance framework, the roots represent your subconscious beliefs – beliefs about money, success, happiness, self-worth and deservingness to name just a handful.
When these beliefs are limiting, then your tree of abundance can’t flourish or grow to it’s full potential. It becomes stunted… it stays small like a bonsai tree instead of growing into a mighty oak — and that’s not helping anyone.
Once I realised that I needed to change my limiting beliefs, I spent two years deeply digging into my own psychology. I rewrote my subconscious belief ‘code’ in order to de-program the frustrating cycle of gain and loss that I’d become trapped in, and to reprogram for ever-increasing abundance instead.
If you want to know more about this, I documented the process I went through to achieve this reprogramming in my book called The Abundance Code: How to Bust the 7 Money Myths for a Rich Life Now.
Stage 2 – the soil
The soil of your tree of abundance represents your external influences.
If you hang around with people who are overly negative, naysayers who have limiting beliefs about you or about what’s possible for you… if you consume a lot of negative media that stokes your fears and primes your ‘fight or flight’ brain circuitry leading to stress, anxiety and poor decision making… well that’s a toxic environment in which to be trying to grow your tree of abundance. It’s not likely to flourish in that kind of soil.
For me, I found that I had to weed this stuff out: I stopped reading, watching or listening to anything negative. I was careful about the company I kept, and when I couldn’t avoid negative people, I just decided not to take their opinions on and kind of ‘turned down the volume’ on them in my own mind.
Stage 3 – the trunk
The trunk of your tree of abundance represents your internal attitude.
Do you take responsibility for your life, or do you blame? Do you have an attitude of gratitude, or do you complain? In this stage of my growth, I recognised that I needed to take responsibility for everything I had created and was going to create in my life.
The trunk of your tree of abundance needs to be protected… from blame, shame and guilt. It’s not your fault, and it’s not anyone else’s either. In this moment, the power to change is yours and yours alone.
Putting those three stages in place was enough to help me avoid bankruptcy and start turning things around, but to really flourish and grow the kind of life I wanted, there were two more stages for me to complete.
Stage 4 – the leaves
The leaves of your tree of abundance represent knowledge and action.
Once I had done the foundational work of the first three stages, I started to seek out knowledge and training that would support me in creating the life of freedom, choice and abundance that I truly desired.
I’m not necessarily talking about the ‘traditional’ kind of knowledge like going to college or getting a degree – I’d already done that in my roller-coaster gain and loss cycle (I’d spent nine years at university and it was not the answer). I discovered that seeking knowledge (stage 4) before doing the foundational work of the first three stages often leads to fruitless effort… to investing in the wrong kind of knowledge and taking the wrong kind of actions. That’s usually because we’re acquiring knowledge and taking actions based on other people’s ideas about what a success path looks like, but their ‘path’ may not suit our unique gifts and abilites.
A lot of people want to jump to the knowledge and action part first. And we’re encouraged to do that – set a goal, make a plan. But often that’s like watering the leaves of a tree. It’s not the most efficient use of resources.
How can we set a goal when we don’t know what our heart really wants? How can we enact a plan when our conflicting subconscious beliefs keep sabotaging our best efforts?
Water the roots. Fertilise the soil. Protect the trunk… and the leaves will take care of themselves.
When we’ve done the foundational work of tending to the roots, soil and trunk of our tree of abundance, then the right knowledge and the right actions will become obvious to us. They grow naturally like the leaves on a tree. They just kind of ‘appear’. If you haven’t done the first three stages yet, then you’re probably not going to know what I’m talking about. Just trust me… stop watering the leaves.
Stage 5 – the fruit
The fruit of your tree of abundance will depend entirely on how well you’ve tended to the first four stages of growth. Everyone gets fruit of some sort. The question is: are you getting the fruit you want? Another way of saying this is the way my friend Dr. Sherry Buffington put it in my film The Abundance Code – “Everyone has an abundance of something… it’s just that many people have an abundance of things they don’t want.”
If you want your life to be filled with freedom, choice and opportunity… then as for any good gardener, it’s going to help you enormously to understand the five stages of growth.
When I was able to tend to these stages of growth in the right way and in the right order, my tree of abundance flourished. I avoided bankruptcy and my finances completely turned around. I was able to achieve a level of financial freedom I had never even dreamed of before. I also was able to create a wonderful work/life balance. An unprecedented freedom of opportunity and expression took root in my life, leading to me writing a book, landing an amazing publishing deal with Hay House, and directing an inspiring documentary interviewing leading world experts on the topic of abundance.
No longer a bonsai, my tree of abundance is now a mighty oak.
Julie Ann Cairns is the author of the top selling Hay House book The Abundance Code: How to Bust the 7 Money Myths for a Rich Life Now (which recently reached #1 in Personal Finance on Amazon.com.au), and the director and producer of the documentary film of the same name, The Abundance Code, a film which over 73,000 people watched during the recent 10 day free online premiere screening.
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