Five stages to a fruit­ful life

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.

Living Now - - Front Page - By Julie Ann Cairns

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 ar­chi­tect­de­signed 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 8 years old I started to no­tice the drink­ing was get­ting bad. By 10 it was out of con­trol. Just be­fore I turned 11, 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!

His­tory re­peat­ing

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.

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, pub­lished by Hay House.

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.

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.

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.

Wa­ter the roots. Fer­tilise the soil. Pro­tect the trunk… and the leaves will take care of them­selves.

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