Thursday, December 27, 2007

How to Demand Less, Live Better: A Financial Salute to My Natural Hair

We laugh about the long wish lists from kids. But we all have the gimmies: Give me a new car, a new home and new hair. The Fix: "Let Go of Wanting." It's a formula I spotted last night in a pass-along copy of Bottom Line Personal.

In her publisher's note, (May 1, 2007 issue) Marjory Abrams outlines a four-step process that is based on the Sedona Method. I tried it and it works. And I'll continue to use the system for dealing with my personal wish list. The process applies to assorted gimmies, including material possessions, professional quests, personal obsessions and irrational fears.

Here's out it works:

1. Identify your feelings. My hair example: Why did I straighten my hair for years at an estimated cost of about $1,500 to $2,000 a year for salon visits, plus tips. Bottom Line offers this menu of emotional options: "Fear? Anger? Shame? Envy? Some other emotion?"

My story: Straight hair is fine. But my need to chemically straighten my hair (with lye!) during the 1980s and early 1990s, did not come from a good place. Over a 15-year period, I spent about $30,000 (excluding interest, tax and tips) to alter my appearance because of negative feelings about my naturally nappy/curly hair.

2. Which "feeling" does the "gimmie" tap into: Am I looking for 1) approval from others, 2) control or 3) a way of changing things that are beyond my control?
Hair example: In my case, I think I was caught in Box No. 1: (approval from others). I actually liked my afro hair when I was in high school. But during the college years and 1980s, I bought into the idea that I needed to fix my hair so that it was long, straight and shiny. (That's a great look, but it's not really me).
Lesson: I let myself be lured into the billion-dollar-beauty industry-marketing-machine aimed at women, especially African-American women. The product pitch: You're not pretty the way you are. Spend, spend, spend to fix your cosmetic flaws. I totally bought into that pitch. My bad!

If I invested the money I spent on my hair, with a 10 percent annual return, I would now have about $46,000 in additional cash.

3. The reality check: I can let go of wanting, wishing, obsessing....but do I really want to? (It's a trick question posed by

Hair example: I have very sensitive skin and the chemicals used to straighten my hair often burned my skin.
The reality check: I could have walked out of the beauty salons at any time or I could have requested another service. But no, I paid for that abuse.

4. Can you Let Go Now? Finally, one day after an awful hair straightening session in Miami, I just cut off my hair. It was a total buzz cut. My hair has since grown back and is almost waist length and it's nappy/happy hair.

The Bottom Line Publisher's Summary:
"The more I work with this technique, the more it works for me," wrote Marjory Abrams, publisher.
Coached by actor Larry Conroy, Abrams used that four-step process to let go of stage fears after she was hired to do on-air business segments for NBC. (You can watch the segments by going to and hitting the WNBC menu option.

The Sedona method: It was developed by a physicist (Lester Levenson), who was given a medical death sentence in 1952: only a few months to live. Levenson did not accept that verdict and used the above four-step process to let go of negative feelings, including those linked to the "gimmies." He lived for an additional 42 years.

Beyond the feel-good medical story, business coaches and career consultants often discuss how negative feelings sour careers, business deals and other financial agendas. As for me, I've liberated my hair, my purse and my self-esteem. I'm now working on other gimmie-targets and I plan to tap into that four-step tool.
Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere!, which will be published in May of 2008 by DPL Press.
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Dedicated said...

Wow, I have always heard how expensive straightening your hair was, but I had no idea that people were paying 2 x's what I pay a year to have their hair done.

What I wouldn't do to have curls. Isn't it amazing how we all want what we don't have? Possibly all worrying too much what others think.

Katie Gregg said...

Your natural hair is so very beautiful! I love it and can't imagine why you would ever want to change it. But we all love everyone else's hair, don't we?

GothamTomato said...

Forget about the money: I've often thought that, at the end of my life, when I'm about to die, I'm going to wish I had back all that time I spent straightening my hair.


Marcus Aurelius said...

A friend of mine got his mother to quit smoking by showing her how much she spent on cigarettes throughout her lifetime. It was enough to purchase a small house.