When money and sex collide…in a classroom


Last Thursday, after a lovely dinner out with my adult son (shock, horror, disbelief), I attended a two-hour workshop on managing money. In November I’ll be delivering these same workshops (shock, horror, disbelief). Watching my colleagues deliver the material is part of my training.

The facilitator showed us this image and told us that the top of the iceberg represented our actions; in this context, related to how we spend and save money.

He then told us to label the two areas under the water as either ‘thoughts’ or ‘beliefs’, asking which would be deepest, the thoughts level or the beliefs level. In other words, do thoughts lead to beliefs lead to actions (from deepest to above water), or, do beliefs lead to thoughts lead to actions. Got it?

The group of ten was equally split, interestingly, with most women saying that thoughts lead to beliefs, while most men stating that beliefs lead to thoughts. Which is it? What do you think? Take a second. Decide.

Here’s a picture so you don’t cheat and peak ahead.

Mahatma Ghandi

Mahatma Ghandi

According to the instructor (and to Mahatma Ghandi) our beliefs become our thoughts and our thoughts become our actions. We have a thousand thoughts every day, but the only ones that have power are the ones we hold as beliefs — these are the thoughts that we accept as true and the thoughts that we act on.

Confused? I was. So was much of the class. So the instructor gave an example. And here’s where money and sex collided in this classroom, like the Sunshine  (Arctic explorer, Captain John Davis’s ship) hitting an iceberg.

Back in the days before we had the Hudson Bay Company, in the days when Vikings and the first European ships were finding their way north to the land of  icebergs, Inuit men trained hungry sailors how to hunt polar bears in exchange for those strapping young men having sex with all the Inuit women of child-bearing age. Married or not.

That’s what he told us. That’s not something I remember learning in Grade 7 or even Grade 10 Canadian history, but then, there’s a lot we weren’t told about Canada’s First Peoples so…I’ll trust him.

The connection to money and the beliefs –> thoughts –> actions assertion? Glad you asked because I wasn’t following either.

The Inuit of days-gone-by believed that genetic diversity was critical to their survival and thrival (it’s not a word but it should be) so they had no thoughts of jealousy. That belief and thought (or non-thought, as it were) lead to the action of encouraging their wives to mix up the gene pool with transient white boys. Wham bam, thank you, Ma’am.

How would you feel, he asked us, if a man suggested he sleep with your wife? You’d be jealous, of course! And your jealous feeling might lead you to act by punching that man right in the nose.

(In truth, one man didn’t look like he’d be jealous at all. The way he was smiling and nodding I thought he was quite interested in this idea. That said, my thought did not lead to an action of suggesting the name of an ethical slut I dated several years ago because I believe everyone involved would ultimately be disappointed). But I digress.

All right. The iceberg, belief, thought, action analogy made some sense. But where does money enter this relationship?

We all have beliefs about money, many of which we got from our parents. Beliefs like, “all rich people are insensitive jerks” or alternately, “all poor people are lazy.” The beliefs we have about money (much like the ones we have about sex) lead us to different thoughts. If you believe that rich people are not nice people, odds are you won’t try to become a rich person and you’ll limit yourself in your career, accepting low-wage jobs to ensure you never become a jerk yourself. Thus, belief to thought to action.

What do you think? How do your beliefs about money impact your thoughts and actions? I’m actually looking for some examples since I need a different one for my own workshop deliveries. Polygamous Inuits just doesn’t work for me.

I’m also interested in how your beliefs about sex impact your thoughts and actions, since the characters in my novels are always looking for something quirky to define them (and frankly, using my own beliefs, thoughts and actions related to sex is getting a bit old).

Posted in Creative writing, Drinking Scotch with Strangers, My Embellished Life
2 comments on “When money and sex collide…in a classroom
  1. nora snowdon says:

    i’ve always held confusing and contradictary beliefs about money and sex–not together, though. i was raised with my dad threatening that, “we’re all going to end up in the poor house” and carry that thought always. however my mom instilled in me a fear of being trapped in a well-paying but mind-stultifing career. (she gave up her reporter’s job to raise kids then ended up as a doctor’s receptionist.) i guess the belief from mom that well-paying = drudgery has inadvertantly led me to many disposable crap jobs. but my fear of ending up in a box on the street makes me keep getting more mcjobs. and even further, perhaps my money=drudgery belief is keeping me from fully committing to chasing success as a writer, because if writing pays real money it will become dull and somehow trap me.
    as for sex, being an inhibited canadian, my hard-wired beliefs are so complex, i couldn’t even begin to sort them out. let’s just say sex in a parka whilst in a canoe would warp anyone’s view of the dirty deed…

    • Donna Barker says:

      Nora, excellent example. Thank you.

      I have the same fear of being trapped in a boring job but something in my background allowed me to chase my living as a consultant. Never a dull day – except for the weeks and sometimes months that pass without a client (or income) and I guess I don’t fear the eventuality that I’ll be living in a box when I ‘retire.’ Thus, my novel idea of trying to pay the bills as a creative writer.

      As for sex…more proof that Quebeckers are a distinct society. Inhibitions? I wave my braless breasts in your general direction! (Said with a French Monty Python accent, of course).

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