As a part of my series about “Learning To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Marie Thomasson, CFPⓇ. She is a financial planner and investment manager with 15+ years of experience. She works as a financial advisor and coach, as well as a speaker and writer.
Marie’s mission is to help her clients, primarily women and families, live for today while building and protecting resources for the future, all while discovering their “why” and “how”. She leverages her analytical background and her personal story to help others discover what brings them joy and fulfillment, recognizing that numbers need a narrative to bring lasting joy.
Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
So much of my identity and career has been striving to adapt to a profession dominated by men. As a student at UCLA I studied math and physics; I wanted to get maximum value out of my education, and I saw the soft sciences as something easy I could pick up on my own. I thought that if it wasn’t “hard”, then it wasn’t really worth learning. I also saw the way people respond to a woman in the hard sciences, with admiration and respect, as if I was legitimized by studying something that is traditionally in the male dominion. It was a seemingly empowering experience for me, and I continued down this path of seeking validation and affirmation for my worth and value in my career.
From the moment I stepped on the trading floor at my first job out of college, I was dropped into an elite circle; I was surrounded by powerful men, and women who had the qualities necessary to succeed in an alpha-male dominated, testosterone-fueled environment. From that moment, any empowerment I had felt slipped away. I struggled to keep up, always working harder, striving to maintain my composure outwardly, while I was worn down by daily messages and insinuations that I wasn’t good enough, tough enough, fast enough, smart enough. I lacked a suave composure, and often found myself crying in a bathroom stall, feeling inadequate and unworthy.
There is always a moment, a turning point, a pain that calls to our soul so clearly we must follow, or otherwise let our soul wither and die. For me that call was children. As a single mother of twins, I had to choose between an outwardly successful life that would pay for my nanny, or forge a new path, with much risk to my net worth, that might allow me to mother in a way of my choosing.
Today, as a financial planner and investment advisor, I consistently affirm the choice to put our self worth ahead of our net worth, and when we do that, I find we flourish and arrive to success in all the ways we’ve been striving for in the past.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?
Today my focus is to bring the world of money, investing, and business into the female dialogue. I am passionate about the idea that as a gender, we need to grab the reins in our own way, utilizing our strength as women to look at money and our relationship with it in a positive, empowering way. When we stop looking for someone to save us — or realize we are smart enough, capable enough — to do and achieve whatever we desire and dream of, we take action towards more than just our goals. We commit to acts of self-love.
Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?
It took many years for me to accept that my strength and value didn’t lie in my college education, my capabilities with Excel, or the capacity to code my own app. It was a friend who pointed out to me that, as a sports medicine doctor, his skill wasn’t in medicine, but in recognizing patterns. For me, he was the tipping point of recognition that my value was in my ability to empathize and have compassion for others, regardless of their situation or station in life. When I stopped identifying my worth with my outer resume, and instead began to draw on my innate abilities, my journey to self acceptance truly began.
According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?
This should be an entire workshop! A person’s checkbook (or these days, Mint account) doesn’t lie! A full 10–20% of a person’s budget could easily be attributed to “not good enough”, and other times, your budget might show where you are undervaluing your worth. Whether it’s your body, face, teeth, too much hair or not enough hair, we create a narrative in our minds that compels us to justify a want as a need, or vice versa, depending on what story we tell ourselves. Sometimes we feel we must artificially change our outward appearance to find acceptance, or maybe we don’t feel we’re worth the expense of healthy food that fuels our body. Ultimately, however we express our lack of self-love shows in our health and our bank accounts. Treating our body with love and care doesn’t have to be exorbitant.
As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?
It’s not just important, it’s everything. Loving yourself is recognizing that you are perfect exactly as you are, and that worth is not about a number in a bank account. I’m a pretty spiritual person, and I believe that if you love yourself, then whatever you need to be happy will find you. That might be money in the bank, the world at your feet, or our most precious resource of all, time. Some of my most gratifying moments are watching clients let go and indulge themselves; when they’ve spent their lifetime caring for others and finally they turn to give themselves all the attention and love they’ve been seeking.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this? We stay in a place we believe we are worthy of. If you’re stuck in mediocrity, it’s because that what you believe you deserve.
When it comes to money and relationships, specifically women, there’s always a story there! The narrative is usually along the lines of surrendering your power to your partner because you don’t think you’re capable alone. One of the biggest challenges for married women to overcome is finding their identity outside of marriage, whether they have children or not, when they are suddenly flying solo.
When we talk about self-love and understanding we don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?
This is a great question! My children are a constant force of change, and just as I think I’ve learned a lesson, another one comes my way, allowing me infinite opportunity for reflection and “upleveling” myself and my life.
There’s a wonderful exercise I learned that incorporates all the different parts of our identity. We cannot recognize anger, greed, cowardice, or any other emotion, without firsthand knowledge of it ourselves. What we see in others is also in us. Imagine all the personality traits you abhor in others, and recognize that it’s just a part of ourselves we disown. Imagine a bus full of all the personalities of people you detest, and ask yourself when in your life you’ve been that thing, and give it a name and a persona.
A great personal example for me is “Victim Vicky”. Victim Vicky feels the world has conspired against her, and that she’s at the mercy of others choices, whims, and power trips. That’s a part of me I own and recognize, and can allow to exist, but when she starts victimizing herself, I can ask her to head to the back of the bus, because I’m driving now and I don’t need to blame my circumstances on the actions of someone else. I don’t need to be a victim anymore!
So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?
I find being alone is a practice that must be mindfully created, because in the age of connectedness, even when we’re alone we are tethered to others through email, news apps, social media, and texting. Personally, my refuge is mediation. It was a practice I took up many years ago while in a personal crisis, and abandoned after I was “good enough”. Recently, I picked it up again, because I recognize that it’s not just the way out of suffering, but it’s also the path to loving ourselves and others. Sitting still is far and away the fastest route to self-love.
How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?
The more I know and love myself, the more fulfilling my relationships with others become. When I’m able to have compassion for myself, and fulfill my needs and wants, I’m able to release others from needing to be what I need in order to make me happy. It’s a life of live and let live, rather than control, manipulation, and suffering. Happily, I find that the more I delve into myself, relationships that don’t serve me fade away, and make space for authenticity.
One of the most confusing aspects for me has been intimate relationships; by recognizing my patterns and having more self-understanding, I am much better equipped to differentiate between lust, love, and infatuation, and act accordingly. Understanding myself has ultimately given me a far greater understanding of others, and I don’t take things personally like I used to.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
If we seek to understand and love ourselves, acceptance of others follows organically. By accepting others as they are, they are free to be their authentic self. My goal as a mother, a professional, and a person are the same: supporting my children, clients, friends, and my ’enemies’ to understand and accept themselves; as we find fulfillment and happiness in life, we naturally pass on the qualities of compassion and acceptance to those around us.
What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?
I’m a “doer”by nature, so I’ve had to learn that some of the best strategies are not doing.
I use a mashup of techniques to maintain my connection with and love for myself.
The first and most important self-care I can give myself is the practice of meditation: While I was going through a painful breakup with the father of my children, I would meditate for hours on end to relieve the suffering. When you’re dying inside, you will find the time for whatever it is that will cure you. Today, I have to be a bit more strategic, and since it takes six minutes for my coffee to brew, I allot five minutes for meditation while I’m waiting. I pretty much always make time for coffee, and in doing so, I also make time for my daily practice. I gift myself that cup of coffee after my five minutes are up, and I am grateful for the short but impactful practice my coffee habit sustains.
I can get caught up in work and make it priority number one pretty easily, so I schedule time on a weekly basis for friends, yoga, and kids. I block my calendar when I have my kids with me, for a friend date every week, and the same for a restorative yoga class. I often feel a small amount pressure or stress going into these forced relaxation moments, but once I allow myself to be present, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
On the doing side, I have found that a challenging aspect of self-love is recognizing when I’m procrastinating, not wanting to do what must be done. I pause to question where the feeling is coming from, what purpose it’s trying to serve me, and observe my reactions and inclinations. I revisit my “why”and check if my tasks are in alignment with my “why”; if they are, then I offer myself a reward commensurate with the amount of internal effort required to carry out the task at hand.
Speaking of rewards — one of my favorite things to do is take a bath and read a book — no learning allowed. If I’ve met my goals for the day, then I indulge in some me-time that also is a great opportunity to use up all the facemasks I like to buy!
Lastly, I am on a continual path of learning to let go of what does not serve me. If I have to block a phone number, a person, or a habit, I do it, regardless of how it may be perceived. My well being is paramount, and not allowing negativity into my life is crucial. No amount of meditation will suffice if you open yourself up to that which does not serve you.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?
Well, I’m all about the money, so I read LOTS of finance related books! I love Jen Sincero’s “You Are A Badass At Making Money”, because it addresses a side of the money equation that doesn’t get enough attention. Money is a tool, neither good nor bad, it’s a vessel for all the emotions we label it with. Money is important, but it won’t flow as freely as we might like without getting the inner harmony aligned, so I enthusiastically recommend books by Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, and Thich Nat Han.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…
I’m already working on it! I feel passionately about helping women and families serve their highest selves, and money is part of that equation! Gone are the days of Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey, where money is just about the dollars and cents. It’s time to put the narrative back into the numbers, and that’s what I’m working on. Your net worth starts with your self-worth, and that is the message I intend to share.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by?
Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?
If there’s anything I can share, is that life doesn’t have to be ‘hard’. That doesn’t mean you can give up and not do the things that need to be done, but it does mean that some jobs, relationships, and paths are not yours to traverse. I start by asking myself “what do I mean?”. My life has a meaning, and if I’m not 100% aligned, then it is almost always harder than it needs to be!
Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!