What you do comes from what you think.
—A COURSE IN MIRACLES
I’ve heard it said that you can only go as far as your self-image will allow. Which explains why I spent most of my life in a heavy financial fog. Had I known then how to reprogram my distorted beliefs, I could have avoided years of struggle, frustration, and pain. I write this book hoping my experience, and the subsequent research I’ve done, enables you to confidently and joyously create wealth, well-being, and whatever else you desire and deserve. I can tell you, after being out of the fog for over 30 years, it’s a seriously intoxicating high.
The roots of our raising run deep.
I was groomed to be financially clueless. Not because of some malevolent plan my parents devised. But they, like their parents before them, and all preceding generations, were unconsciously conditioned by the prevailing norms.
Shortly after I graduated college, with a degree in art history, my dad took me to lunch in Kansas City, where I grew up. The city is famous for its fantastic barbeque. Over a heaping plate of ribs at his beloved Arthur Bryant’s, my father came straight to the point.
“So, Barbara, what’s next for you?” he asked.
“I’m going to apply to Berkeley, get a PhD in art history,” I told him excitedly. “And then I’ll become a college professor.”
Teaching had always been in my blood. When I was little, my favorite game was playing school with my two younger sisters. And of course, I was always the teacher. Every summer, my family rented a house on the boardwalk in Atlantic City and I’d organize a day camp for the neighborhood kids. Naturally I was the head (and only) counselor.
However, my dad had other ideas for me. As he bit into a rib, he murmured, “That’s nice,” wiping the sauce from his mouth with a large paper napkin. “But you can do that anytime. Right now, at your age, it would be much smarter to get married and start having kids.”
Despite my eagerness to go to grad school, I was unable to disagree with him. I worshipped my father. And it was, after all, the late 1960s. A woman’s place was in the home unless she needed a paycheck. Even then her choices were severely limited. Growing up, I was not permitted to work, even to babysit like all my friends. The only job I was allowed to take (unpaid) was during my senior year in high school as a receptionist at H&R Block, serving coffee to waiting clients. My father, Richard Bloch, founded the business with his brother, Uncle Henry, so he had considerable pull. And I was overjoyed because the job allowed me to skip my afternoon classes.
I was never encouraged to go into the family business like my male cousins. And whenever I asked my dad about money, he always gave me the same advice. “Don’t worry,” he’d say, quite lovingly. He really didn’t want “his girls” to fret over finances. In his mind, my sisters and I would always have a man and an inheritance to support us. Truthfully, I loved that advice. I didn’t understand money, and thankfully, I didn’t need to (or so I thought).
I came home from our lunch that day and still applied to Berkeley. But soon after they rejected me, by a twist of fate (or more likely, a wired neuropathway), I met my future husband on a family vacation. And indeed, a year after we married, I had a dark-haired baby girl, Melissa, who looked just like her handsome Israeli father.
But alas, motherhood failed to satisfy my yearning for . . . I had no idea what. All I knew was I wasn’t happy. The solution seemed obvious. I tried to have another baby. But it didn’t happen, and, according to the doctors, I would never give birth again.
I was devastated. Having children was what I was born to do, at least according to my parents. In hindsight, however, I’m convinced that my inability to conceive was my Soul’s wisdom pointing me in the direction of my destiny.
I became severely depressed, though I doubt anyone knew. I hid it well. But I was hurting badly. One night, lying in bed, an idea dawned on me. Grad school would be the perfect distraction. Art history, however, no longer interested me. I got out of bed, found the local university’s class catalog on my bookshelf, and started leafing through it. As the sun was rising the next day, I had decided to get a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. I honestly don’t know why I chose that subject, but I suspect it was out of my own desire for personal healing. This time, I was accepted.
My depression began to lift. Life was looking up. While I was still in school, we adopted a beautiful baby girl, Julie, and I volunteered at the University’s Women’s Center until they promoted me to a salaried position. Though the pay was paltry, I was overjoyed. The rapidly growing women’s lib movement gave me (along with countless other dissatisfied housewives) permission to enter the workforce and actually get paid. My parents weren’t happy, but they grudgingly acquiesced. However, my dad told my husband he didn’t want me talking about my job at family gatherings. That stung even as I obeyed.
I eventually opened my own business, The Career Management Center, helping what was then referred to as reentry women discover and pursue their passion. I vividly remember my embarrassment when my very first client left without paying. Asking for money felt horribly wrong and terribly uncomfortable. But I forced myself to speak up after that.
I was finally happy and fulfilled. Until the night, arriving home late from work, I walked in the door to find my mom, dad, and husband sitting silently in my living room, looking quite somber.
“Sit down, Barbara,” my dad said ominously. “We need to talk.”
I sat down tentatively. The tension was unbearable. I listened, in shock, as he told me that my husband had asked him for a loan to buy a house we’d fallen in love with. When my dad grew suspicious since I had a generous inheritance, my husband, a stockbroker, was forced to admit he’d lost much of it in the market, making wild bets on options, like puts and calls.
“Barbara, did you know your husband is sick?” my father screamed. “Did you know he’s an addict, a gambler?”
I remained surprisingly composed in the face of his fury. “Yes, I know,” I lied with aplomb. But inside, I felt humiliated, stunned, ashamed to admit I had no idea.
“If you can’t get your husband to stop,” my dad said, yelling so loud I was sure he’d wake up the kids, “I will take away your trust.”
“What if I managed the trust?” I meekly replied.
We looked at each other incredulously. Both of us knew the idea was absurd.
After my parents left, my husband and I sat in quiet shock for quite a while.
“I promise, I’ll never do it again,” he weakly murmured the most familiar words spoken by every addict who ever lived.
From that day forward, my parents never mentioned my husband’s addiction again. And even though I’d find out many times over the ensuing years that he was gambling (and losing), I still let him manage the money. That’s how scared I was and how incompetent I felt. I kept hearing my father’s voice telling me, in no uncertain terms, that making and managing money is a man’s job. He was a product of his generation. And it seemed I was a product of my gender.
After 15 years, I finally filed for a separation. Not because of my husband’s gambling but because he became physically abusive. I desperately wanted to stay married. I was petrified I couldn’t make it on my own. My lawyer, however, handed me the divorce papers and insisted I sign them. I grudgingly agreed. Yet even after our divorce, I refused to deal with money. It wasn’t my thing, I decided.
But as I would soon discover: If you don’t deal with your money, your money will deal with you. Sure enough, I got tax bills for well over a million dollars, for illegal deals my ex had gotten us in behind my back. Of course, I didn’t have anywhere close to a million dollars.
At this point, my ex had left the country, and my father wouldn’t lend me the money. By then I also had three daughters (Anna, my miracle baby, was born right before our divorce). I was utterly and completely terrified. But I also knew I had no choice. Financial avoidance was no longer an option. I was not going to raise my girls on the street.
We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the very first time.
I had no idea how I’d do it, but I was utterly committed, with every fiber of my being, to get smart about money. Little did I realize that my commitment to learn would flip on the rewiring switch in my brain. But significant progress would be excruciatingly slow in coming.
I tried reading financial books, going to classes, subscribing to newsletters. Nothing changed. I’d fog up and glaze over, proving to myself that my father was right. I felt hopeless, helpless, and completely alone. I no longer spoke to my parents, and my ex was out of the picture. I prayed desperately to God. “Help me get a grip on my finances. For my daughters’ sake, if not for mine.” God, however, didn’t respond. I felt abandoned by Her, too.
One day, in the checkout line at the grocery store, I was mysteriously drawn to a conversation two people were having behind the person behind me. They were discussing A Course in Miracles (ACIM). I learned it was a self-study spiritual text published and sold at a home a few blocks away from where we’d just moved in Tiburon, California. I bought a copy that day and hungrily began consuming every word, hoping to find solace within. The Course is a difficult read, and I struggled to understand it. Still, I sank into its pages like a lifeboat headed toward calmer seas. Where it took me, however, was actually quite disturbing (though ultimately liberating).
“Everything that seems to happen to me, I ask for and receive as I have asked,” the Course told me.
Huh? That felt terribly harsh coming from the Divine. No way had I asked for tax bills I couldn’t pay. Or a husband I couldn’t trust. But the Course insisted, “I am not a victim of the world I see.” Or put another way: “I am doing this unto myself.”
I was aghast. How could this financial debacle possibly be my doing? Clearly, my husband was the bad guy here and I the ill-fated victim. Nonetheless, I was determined to change.
I made an appointment with a therapist. “Please help me get a grip on my finances,” I begged him. “I really want to get smart.”
What he said next seemed to come straight from the Course and went straight to my core.
“No you don’t,” he challenged me. “You really don’t want to get smart about money.”
I couldn’t argue. I felt like all the air had been sucked out of my defenses. In that instant, I understood what the Course was trying to tell me. Yes, I chose this. That is, the part of me that absolutely did not want to take control of my money. The part that was scared of making mistakes and losing everything (better to let my husband do that!). The part that was nervous about my family’s reaction to me changing. The part that held on to the belief that I was terminally stupid. But most of all, the part that was terrified that if I became financially savvy, a man wouldn’t love me!
“No wonder you’re afraid to get smart,” he said. “Staying stupid has become an act of self-protection.” Once I understood this, my avoidance began to make more sense.
I spent months getting acquainted with this part of me. The part that willingly gave all the power to my husband by refusing to participate in financial decisions, knowing full well he had a serious problem. I had indeed been doing it to myself.
Once I took responsibility for creating my upsetting past, I became highly motivated to protect my future. I hired a top-notch lawyer who claimed I was an innocent spouse. But my ex, a former attorney, wrote an impressive legal brief, explaining that my father cofounded H&R Block and I knew full well what was going on financially. I was devastated by his betrayal. Thankfully my lawyer managed to significantly reduce the amount I owed. I was able to pay the tax bills by selling everything left in my trust, except for a few properties that threw off a monthly income. If I lived frugally and saved prodigiously, my kids and I would be OK.
Now I had to figure out why the hell I stayed with a compulsive liar and gambler for 15 years, putting my family in danger, scared I’d do it again. I started attending Al-Anon, a 12-step program for those affected by an addict. It was there I found the answer, and it wasn’t pretty. I realized I had my own “sickness.” I was a raging codependent who was addicted to a raging addict.
I learned that codependency is a crippling condition in which a person completely disregards her own needs in favor of relationships that are often emotionally harmful and abusive. I had to chuckle when I read a Psychology Today article explaining that codependency is “when two people with dysfunctional personality traits become worse together.” Yep, that was my marriage, all right!
I checked myself into The Meadows, a week-long co-dependent treatment program in Arizona. After successfully completing it, I spent the next several years religiously attending Codependents Anonymous and Debtors Anonymous meetings several times a week. Through this persistent work, I began healing the throbbing shame that had forever plagued me, but which I never understood.
Hungry for insight and healing, I signed up for personal growth workshops with increasing frequency. These workshops, combined with the personal and spiritual work I was doing, forced me to question my long-held beliefs, individuate from my family, and figure out my personal values and authentic truths.
And yet, every so often, I’d pick up a financial book or flip through Money magazine, still to no avail. The fog hadn’t lifted. I had no idea, at that point, that I was already deeply immersed in the rewiring process, slowly reprogramming the false messages that had been embossed on my brain for over 40 years, in preparation for the miracle that was on its way.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
Five years after my divorce, I was writing for the San Francisco Business Times when a local nonprofit hired me as a freelancer to interview women who were smart with money. Maybe God hadn’t abandoned me after all.
During those interviews, women shared with me a series of surprisingly similar insights they’d each had, realizations that enabled them (and eventually me) to get smart about money. Those realizations turned into my first book, Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money. Spending time with these savvy women and incorporating their insights into my thinking changed my life forever. But the writing was agonizing. I was a working journalist and a syndicated columnist, yet I struggled for seven years to finish the proposal to submit to a publisher. Only later did I understand that it’s not enough to know more or even think differently. I also had to consciously resist the astonishing intensity of old neuropathways while attempting to build new ones.
As I worked on the book, the fog seemed to lift. I not only got smart about money, but suddenly, unexpectedly, I was a financial expert with a whole new career. I began traveling the country speaking to women. In time, I forgave my father and my husband. In fact, I thanked them both. Because of them, I found my calling. But no matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t make money, at least not very much.
That’s when I met Karen McCall, a financial recovery counselor, who told me I was an underearner.
“I am not!” I protested. “I’m a writer.” Everyone knows writers don’t make money.
Then, on a cold January day, soon after crossing into the new millennium, I got a call from my agent, Candice Fuhrman. She sounded excited.
“I have a great idea for another book,” she said quickly. “Women are now earning more than ever before. Why don’t you interview these six-figure women and see what . . .”
She kept talking but I stopped listening. The thought of interviewing high earners—whom I imagined as designer-dressed snobs, totally intimidating if not downright boring and dreadful beings—sounded horrible. I hated the idea. And then it hit me.
“Hold on, Barbara,” I said to myself. “If this is how you feel about successful women, how will you ever let yourself become one?”
In that instant, an unappealing idea morphed into a personal challenge. I ended up interviewing over 150 women who made $100,000 or more. (Among them were several writers—there went my excuse about writers not making money!) I not only learned the strategies that enabled these women to become financially successful, but for the first time in my life, I became a six-figure woman myself before I even finished writing the book, Secrets of Six-Figure Women.
By the time my next book, Overcoming Underearning, was published, I’d been making six figures consistently. So I set a new goal for myself—make millions, help millions, and give millions—which would be the subject of my third book. I began interviewing women making millions. Yet three years later, there was no book, no millions, and I was completely burned out.
My coach at the time said, “Barbara you’re too into doing. You need time for just being.”
I knew she was right. The next day, I made reservations at a nearby hotel for a four-day retreat. Holed up in my cozy room, overlooking water, I reread the transcripts of those interviews and discovered what I’d missed. I’d been so dazzled by these women’s remarkable success and my desire to duplicate it that I failed to notice the most crucial piece. These women had succeeded in a very different way than the world models. I called this “other” way Sacred Success—pursuing your soul’s purpose, for your own bliss and the benefit of others, while being richly rewarded.
In writing my next book, Sacred Success: A Course in Financial Miracles, I did something that petrified me. I came out of my spiritual closet, publicly admitting, for the first time, the key role A Course in Miracles had played in my financial growth. I wanted readers to understand, as I had, that wealth building is not just a practical process, but a spiritual practice, a healing journey, a Rite of Passage into our power as women.
After Sacred Success was published, I experienced a level of financial achievement I never believed possible (which typically occurs when you do what you fear). I honestly thought this was to be my last book, sure I had nothing new left to say.
There must be a better way to see this.
—A COURSE IN MIRACLES
It was after this that I had an experience that caught me off guard. I was suddenly, inexplicably struck by a nagging sense that something was missing. I had no idea what it meant, but the feeling intensified. I lost interest in my work. My passion disappeared. I was done. I awoke each morning, dreading the day ahead, seriously fantasizing about taking a sledgehammer to my business, smashing it to smithereens.
This was quite upsetting, shocking really. It made no sense. I loved what I did. Empowering women was more than a job. It was my mission, my ministry—it was why I was here. I didn’t feel I was done working. I was just done with . . . something, but I didn’t know what. I still loved counseling and teaching, especially about investing and wealth building. So why was I no longer excited? Could I be sabotaging my hard-won success?
I began praying for guidance. For months, I stewed in “I’m done/I can’t be done” limbo. Eventually, I just let myself be there. Not trying to fix, change, or rush through it, but following the Course’s instruction to “let it be what it is.” I canceled classes I’d scheduled, reduced my client load, and wiped much of my slate clean, eliminating distractions in my search for the mysterious missing piece, if there even was one. And I patiently (well, sort of) waited to see what, if anything, was next. It never ceases to amaze me how the Universe works when you finally surrender.
One morning, while casually checking my email, an article about neuroscience appeared in my inbox. As soon as I saw the word, I was intensely drawn to learn more. I imagine that some part of my brain lit up like a winning slot machine, hollering, Congratulations! You just found the missing piece! The more I read, the more fascinated I became.
My creative juices started flowing. My passion returned. Maybe I hadn’t lost interest in my work, maybe it was just the way I was doing it. Maybe there was a better way to help women take the financial reins. I kept feverishly reading.
I learned that women’s and men’s brains process financial information differently. Men see investing in the market as a challenge. Women see investing as a threat. Since our prehistoric brains were wired for the sole purpose of survival, anytime we feel threatened, our rational brain shuts down, sending us into fight, flight, or freeze mode.
Consequently, women tend to avoid the markets in the same way our ancestors fled from wooly mammoths. We fog up in self-protection, become immobilized or hyper-anxious, and feel unable to absorb practical information, reluctant to invest, or we defer decisions to another, terrified of making mistakes.
This explained why I gave my husband all the power. My fear of loss was stronger than my desire to learn. But as it’s often said: what you fear, you’ll recreate. And that’s exactly what I did. I was so terrified of losing money, I stuck my head in the sand, resulting in huge losses.
This also explains why, once women enter the market, they actually outperform men. Our lack of confidence works in our favor. Men, who are apt to be overly self-assured, tend to trade frequently. Women, with their lack of confidence, tend to buy and hold for the long term, which is proven to be a much better strategy over time.
The more I read, the clearer it became. Adding principles of neuroscience to my work with women would speed up their learning curve by cutting through their resistance. Instead of avoiding investing because it feels like a threat, what if they learned how to rewire their brains to become confident investors?
Over time, I blended three components that I’d long been working with—psychology (the study of the mind), spirituality (specifically, mind training as taught in A Course in Miracles), and personal finance (the fundamentals of wealth building)—with a fourth, neuroscience (the study of the brain).
Weaving together these four components, I spent a full year developing my own brand of what one neuropsychiatrist dubbed “self-directed neuroplasticity.” This book that you now hold in your hands, Rewire for Wealth, gives you a simple three-step formula for altering the neuronal circuity of your brain, enabling you to confidently and knowledgably create wealth and well-being.
In the fall of 2016, I introduced the ReWIRE for Wealth formula, for the first time, to a roomful of women at a four-day retreat in Chicago. Based on their enthusiastic response, I was eager to dive deeper into the material, working with women one-on-one and in small groups, taking them through the steps over a longer duration of time. I began offering ReWIRE Mentorship Programs and ReWIRE VIP Intensives, guiding hundreds of women through this process while I continued to refine it. I was astonished how quickly the steps expedited the learning process and how transformational they were. As one woman, Joyce, described her experience with the rewire formula: “My life changed so quickly that it was like going up in a rocket ship.”
I will be introducing you to many women, like Joyce, who will share their stories, as I personally guide you through the rewire process. If you’re like most graduates of my programs, once you understand how to train your mind to rewire your brain, you’ll discover the immense power you have not only to take charge of your money but to change your life.
The motto for the University of Oregon (taken from Virgil’s Aeneid) declares: Mens agitat molem. Or, “Minds move mountains.” Those three words sum up the inherent power of Rewire for Wealth.
“How does one become a butterfly?” she asks pensively. “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
Before you turn the page and dive into our first chapter, I invite you to do an exercise to prepare you for the journey ahead. I will be giving you a number of exercises throughout the book. I call these exercises Rewire in Action. They are meant to help you absorb what you’re learning, enabling you to rewire as you read. I urge you not to skip these exercises. In this first exercise, I’m giving you a wonderful opportunity to flip the switch and set the rewiring gears in motion.
Rewire in Action
WHAT DO I WANT?
“Our intention creates our reality.”
This question—What do I want?—is what I call the Power Question. Having a firm, clear answer to that question—one that is based on your highest truths, not the “shoulds” that often guide us—is precisely how you claim your power. Yet, this is not a question many women ask. Nor is it an easy one to answer. But I’d like you to try. A strong, focused intention directs the frontal cortex of your brain to be on the lookout for strategies to achieve it.
In the space below, write down your intention for reading this book.
What new behaviors would you like to strengthen? _______________
What unhelpful habits or patterns do you wish to change? _______________
What outcome do you deeply desire? _______________
My intention for reading this book is: _______________