Heart And Mind Matters Tina Thrussell

The $5 Bill

By Tina Thrussell

I have to confess, I’ve got a lot on the go right now. As I sat down to publish “Heart and Mind Matters”, I didn’t feel like I had sufficient time to write a noteworthy article for today. I thought, “I’ll cheat and use an old article!”

I file our writings by year, so I looked at the master folder and simply waited for the message about which one to open. I clicked on 2012.

Scanning the dates of the articles, I spontaneously clicked on Nov 6. Jackpot! On the first try! I love this memory and the message that I shared. I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I did!

We had one of those beautiful ‘aha’ moments in the Assertiveness and Self-esteem course I was teaching for Chinook Learning Services last week…

One of the students asked, “What do you say to someone who is always making you feel bad about yourself?  You know, they talk to you as if they are superior and they make you feel small?”

I smiled and reminded the class, “Eleanor Roosevelt said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.  She meant that no one can make you feel anything – what you feel is up to you.  You choose how you feel about what people say.  If you decide to ‘buy in’ to what others are telling you, their negative messages will hurt you.  If you tell yourself that what they are saying is not true, and you know better, then their words won’t negatively impact you.”

There wasn’t much reaction from the students.  I silently asked myself, “How can I make this point more effectively?”  Immediately, the answer came to me.  I dug my wallet out of my purse and pulled out a $5.00 bill.  “Who wants this $5.00 bill?”  I asked.

Two hands went up, but everyone else in the class sat there looking at me sceptically.  “Really?!” I exclaimed. “Only two of you want this $5.00 ?  Raise your hand if you’d like to have this 5 bucks.”

A few more hands went up.  “Seriously!?  I want to give away a $5.00 bill and you don’t all want it?!?”  The students were nervously looking at one another as the rest of the hands went up.

“That’s more like it,” I said.  I folded up the bill as many times as I could.  “Now who wants this $5.00 bill?”  All the hands went up quickly this time.

“OK.” I said.  I unfolded the bill and then crumpled it up into a little ball.  “Who wants it now?”  Again all the hands went up.  One of the students said, “Well, it’s still $5.00!”  I smiled and shot her a knowing glance.

“So you want this $5.00?”  I dropped it on the floor and stomped on it like a little kid throwing a tantrum.  Everyone laughed.  I picked the bill up again, “So, who wants this $5.00 now?”  Again all the hands went up.

I smoothed out the bill one more time and held it up high.  “This bill is you.”  I looked at the student who had posed the question about how to deal with a difficult person.  I saw the light bulb go on.  Her face lit up with realization and she quietly said, “Oh, I see!”

What a beautiful moment!   I looked around the room, holding the $5.00 high, and repeated, “This $5.00 bill is you.”  Many of the other students had huge smiles on their faces.

Just to be sure the message had really landed for everyone, I added, “Just like this $5.00 bill, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or what anyone says to you – you still are you, and you still have the same value and worth.”  Heads nodded as I paused to let that message sink in. I continued, “We are all equal.  No one is any greater or lesser than anyone else.  Sure, there are people who are smarter than you, or more talented than you at certain things, just like there are people who aren’t as intelligent as you, or are less talented than you in certain areas.  But that doesn’t affect your worth and value.  We all have differing amounts of different qualities, and no one quality is any better than the next.  Comparing yourself to anyone else doesn’t serve you in any life-enhancing way, and it doesn’t serve the person you are comparing yourself to either.”

I decided to come back to the issue of the difficult person who was condescending to my student.  I shared with the class, “You know, underneath all communication there are two motivating factors. The first is to express love in some way and the second is to express hurt.”  I let that sink in for a few seconds before I continued.

“If someone is speaking or acting in a way that seems hurtful to you, it’s likely that they are doing so because they are hurting themselves – they are experiencing some sort of pain in their life.  Their ‘hurtful’ comments may be their way of lashing out because of their own hurting.  If they put others down to make themselves look good, it’s very likely that they have very little self-confidence.  They feel powerless over their life and think that overpowering others will give them the power they seek. 

Maybe, if you think about that and hold compassion for the people that you consider to be mean or hurtful, your relationship with them will change for the better.”

I smile now, remembering that wonderful look of realization on my student’s face as she got the impact of the $5.00 bill message… those beautiful moments of recognition are so rewarding.  They are why I facilitate seminars and courses like this!  It is such an honour to be witness to little awakenings like this.

I wish you a week filled with beautiful awakenings… and look forward to connecting with you next week… if not sooner!  (Your emails and phone calls are most welcome at any time!)

Please write to us at or call me directly at 403-860-7311

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