Shift Your Mindset: When Making Money Makes You Feel Guilty

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Are you are a stay-at-home mum looking for something to keep the creative energies flowing and earn a bit of pūtea? Or a promising female entrepreneur with dreams of building a sustainable start-up to employ you, your whānau/friends and provide well being for you and your tamariki?

No matter what it is, Awa Wahine’s Creative Business Tips will help your creative dreams become a reality.


You’ve got the seeds of a creative idea firmly in your mind. Or you already have your own start-up or creative business and you’ve just made your first sale; or had a flurry of sales. You've made a profit (which is the total amount you’ve made, minus your expenses which includes your time). Congratulations.

Then suddenly, a flash of guilt descends upon you, it enters your heart and an eerie voice starts chattering in your head. It says:

“How dare you make money off your creativity?”

“Who do you think you are?”

“Artists/Creatives shouldn’t make money for doing what they love! They should do it for love, for aroha, for koha/whānau, hapū and iwi.”

How do I know this? Because I (Ataria the founder of Awa Wahine) have been working through these thought-patterns… right now.

See I love Awa Wahine, and the voice it has given to wāhine to share their stories and creativity. And I love the work I do editing and curating pieces to be shared on the site and on social media.

However, (and this is a big one) in this lifetime, I have bills and responsibilities. I can’t solely exist on the aroha of others - at least at this stage in my life - because I am not currently living on whānau, iwi, hapū land, I don’t own my own house (mortgage free) and me and my partner are not in a financial position where we could have children, even though we would really like to in the not-too-distant future.

All of this equals a desire for pūtea to give me the freedom to reach my own personal life goals.

Do I have a right to reach my own personal life goals, to create my own ideal life? ABSOLUTELY.

And this is where the current goal for Awa Wahine enters centre-stage.

I have a goal for Awa Wahine to be sustainable, to have its own tino rangatiratanga. The ability to pay it’s own bills and not have to rely on funding or take away from my own personal goals (i.e. I could work for free but then I would sacrifice the security of shelter, or to be able to buy kai for my household).

The other day I was in a business coaching session and I came up with an idea to cover some of the costs for my time spent editing. And it was a great idea that would have provided a great service to those who wanted it.

And then BAM.

I felt guilt and the weight of thoughts like “you shouldn’t be earning money from this” enter my frame of mind. Kind of like the jail bars to a prison.

See if I look closely at these thoughts, the thing is that if Awa Wahine is unsustainable, then it is an unsustainable draw on my energy. And if my energy continues to be taken, with no utu or reciprocity, then eventually it will peter out and Awa Wahine will no longer exist, due to its own lack of sustainability.

NOT because of a lack of need.

You see, Awa Wahine is something that a lot of wāhine really love, and want to see more of. But if it is unsustainable, then it will have to stop, just like we need to stop emitting carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Because it is unsustainable.

Sustainability, or the covering of its own costs is a must for all businesses, social enterprises and even not-for-profits!

And the crazy thing is, I know a lot of wāhine agree with me on this, and will be more than happy to support Awa Wahine financially in various ways.

The only thing stopping me is well… that voice. Telling me that covering my own time, energy and effort is not okay. That being able to pay my bills and be responsible for myself, is not okay. In fact, what this voice is really telling me is:

Having TINO RANGATIRATANGA over my own life is NOT OKAY.

It is also saying:

Being a KAITIAKI of my own life is NOT OKAY.

Let’s consider Papatūānuku. We all know that continually drawing off her resources (oil, land, cutting down trees and polluting her oceans) is bad. Well as a-being descended from Hineahuone and created from the kurawaka of Papatūānuku, I am born of the whenua of Papatūānuku.

And do you think Papatūānuku, the unconditional loving mother, wants her children to be exploited just like her own body is being exploited right now? NO. Do you think she wants us to act as her guardians, while not acting as guardians over own lives/bodies?

In fact, is the current exploitation of women worldwide, and the expectation for women to give so much with no reciprocity, entwined into the very exploitation of our earth mother?

Just as we are exploiting the earth mother, we are exploiting ourselves as potential/current human mothers when we are not given a fair exchange for our time, creativity and resources from others.

And here’s the other nagging thought, or maybe more of a a cultural lie.

“Artists/people who love what they do, shouldn’t be paid for the work they do.”

I mean this one is complete BS.

EVERYONE SHOULD LOVE THE MAHI THAT THEY DO AND STILL RECEIVE A FAIR EXCHANGE FOR THE VALUE THEY CREATE FOR OUR COMMUNITIES.

The fact that many people don’t love the work they do, really just highlights the dysfunction of our current society, one where:

People are forced to do jobs they HATE just to provide kai and shelter for their whānau.

Really, these are just symptoms of a dysfunctional system. To read more on this, read “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth.

In an ideal world, everyone would love what they do and have access to the basic human rights of kai and shelter. But what does this mean for creatives or those who love their mahi?

It means that we DESERVE to be paid fairly for the work that we do - regardless of whether or not “we love it.”

It also means that those thought patterns I just went through - CAN F*** OFF.

Phew. Rant over. But to summarise, the focus of this blog post has been on the making money + guilt mindset that may be - let me know if this is you in the comments below - prevalent, especially among women. We’ve explored some of the thought patterns in the mara (garden) of my mind, and pulled out some weeds.

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Thanks for reading!

Ataria Sharman (the founder of Awa Wahine) provides mentoring for wāhine who want to know their creative-calling and/or to start their own creative business. She can guide you step-by-step through how to create your own blog/website and/or social media accounts + social media strategy to maximise sales.

She is currently offering one free creative-mentoring session via Zoom to wāhine to help them craft their dream creative life. Click the button to take advantage of this amazing offer.