By Gay Hendricks, PhD
According to research in the field of Positive Psychology, the characteristic of feeling lucky directly correlates to increased happiness and success in life. This makes sense, as people who feel lucky are likely to be more optimistic and have higher levels of confidence, self-worth, and self-love.
This is one of the reasons I’ve come to believe that one of the biggest hurdles people face in life is the feeling of being unlucky or feeling “cursed.”
I know this sounds seriously weird but stay with me here. I was trained in the scientific method of therapy, in which the subject of curses never came up. Curses, related to folklore and witchcraft, conjure images of black-robed witch figures rattling bones and cackling as they cast spells on their unsuspecting victims—and they have no place in modern-day counseling practices.
But I was forced to reconsider this because of the surprisingly large number of people over the years who’ve told me they felt cursed in the areas of money, love, or both. A negative energy, seemingly beyond their control, hampered them in their efforts to succeed. As I listened carefully to their stories and helped them “lift those curses,” I came to realize that almost all successful living involves lifting “curses” of one kind or another.
This is because minus the bone rattles, the cackles, and the shadowy figure in the robe, a curse is essentially a type of limiting belief about ourselves or our abilities—usually absorbed from our parents or teachers or other caregivers—which has become an everyday, always-on, background-noise fact of life that’s so pervasive we often don’t even realize it’s there.
Think about this for a moment in regard to your own early life. Were you affected by the curse of not being wanted? According to surveys I’ve seen, upwards of 40 percent of us begin our lives that way. If you count mixed feelings—being wanted and unwanted—the numbers go even higher.
And then there are the hundreds of people I’ve worked with who’ve told me they felt cursed by the simple fact of their gender—their parents wanted a boy and they turned out to be a girl, or vice versa.
Long-standing curses sometimes come to light after decades of residing in the unspoken background of relationships. One middle-aged man I worked with told me of a curse-confession his father made to him from his deathbed. As my client kept vigil at his dying father’s bedside, his father suddenly mustered the strength to open his eyes and say, “I never really liked you,” before taking his final breath. It took a while for my client to recover from the pain of that moment, but he ultimately came to appreciate his father for his honesty. “I’d suspected he’d felt that way pretty much all my life,” he said, “so in a way I was relieved when he finally said it out loud.”
There are other types of paternal curses: I remember one time a man in his early thirties came to see me because he couldn’t seem to stop hemorrhaging money. Between disastrous investments and a gigantic spending spree, he’d burned through almost two million dollars. With $250,000 left in his account, he was desperate to figure out why this was happening.
“First of all,” I asked, “how did you make the money?”
He said, “I didn’t make it. I inherited it from my father.”
Internal alarm bells immediately started ringing. “And what was your relationship like with your father around money?”
That’s when I learned about the “curse” his father had put on him. The man told me his father had been a financial genius who’d told his son repeatedly that he was stupid, hopeless with money, and would never be successful. “I suffered from the crime of being like my mother,” my client told me. “The thing I remember him saying most often was, ‘You’ll never amount to a hill of beans!’”
And that was precisely how this young man’s life had been playing out—until his father died unexpectedly in his fifties, leaving my client with more than two million dollars, a heart full of resentment, and the crippling belief that he didn’t deserve to have that money.
So what did he do to express his rage at his father and stay true to his early programming? He wasted all that money his father had carefully earned all those years. What’s more, the curse played out, as curses so often do, with my client completely unconscious of the dynamics at play.
Using a variety of techniques, my client and I worked together to lift the curse. The first step was for him to become conscious of his disastrous mental conditioning. Next, we worked to separate his own beliefs about himself and his abilities from his father’s. What his father thought about him and money was no longer relevant and was outside his control anyway; his father was dead, and the money was gone. The important thing for my client was to ground himself in the here-and-now.
After freeing himself from his past, my client—although he didn’t make the millions of dollars back—saw his luck, as well as his happiness and success, increase steadily from that point forward. He was able to earn a satisfying living and get on with his life—plus he had a $250,000 nest egg!
Take a minute now to reflect on your life. Where have you felt cursed? And why? Who cursed you? Getting clear about your unconscious beliefs and feelings is a vital part of releasing them, and a good first step to creating your own good fortune.
Adapted from Conscious Luck: Eight Secrets to Intentionally Change Your Fortune by Gay Hendricks and Carol Kline, available May 2020.
BIO: New York Times bestselling author Gay Hendricks, PhD, has served for more than forty years as one of the major contributors to the fields of relationship transformation and body-mind therapies. His books include Conscious Loving and The Big Leap.