I’ve noticed that most people that struggle with money seem to have a similar belief system about prosperity. They have negative feelings about money and about their prospects of ever having any. They also have a low opinion of people they perceived as “rich folks”. More than a few times I’ve heard someone who has seen a man driving a fancy car say, “I’ll bet he sells drugs. How else could he afford that car?” If you have those kinds of negative feelings, they may be keeping money away from you.
One of the most interesting things about belief systems is they may not be serving us well without our conscious knowledge. Often we’re so used to our belief systems that they have become an integral part of our thinking. And we don’t realize that the beliefs are not based on facts or wisdom, rather they were absorbed as little kids growing. It’s important to know what’s lurking in our money belief system because without bringing finances under control, it’s hard to build a new life.
Here’s a short exercise which will give a peak into your money beliefs. Do some quick writing. Don’t think about it, just write down the first five things that come to mind about money.
Maybe you wrote:
Money is the root of all evil.
Money can’t buy happiness.
Nobody gets rich without stealing from others, like me.
If you please people enough they’ll give you money.
Too much money just complicates your life.
There are lots of people who want to cheat me out of money.
You have to work really hard to make any money.
If ideas along these lines pop into your head, then you’ll need to adjust your thinking before you can realize any meaningful financial security.
Here’s the second part of this clue-finding exercise. It’s been said that we’re not adults until we pay our own bills. How did you feel when you started paying your own rent, car payment, food, clothing bills?
Did you feel resentful about it?
Was it hard and scary?
Is money your friend?
Is money or the lack of it, a constant source of frustration, worry or fear?
Write down your answers. If you feel money is your friend, you’re well on the road to having plenty. If you feel confident that money shows up when you need it and you are easy about finances, then your money belief system is in great shape. If the answers to the exercises above point to fear, bitterness, envy or any other negative emotion it’s time to make some changes.
Here are more questions to help you get a clear look at your money belief system. Write down what money means to you.
Does it mean security?
Does it mean freedom?
Does it mean deprivation?
Does it mean constant worry?
If you get a lot of money does that mean you’ve proven yourself?
How did you come to believe this stuff?
How you came to hold your opinions about money is an important part of this exercise. Remember messages you got about money as a child and teenager. Did your parents fight a lot about money? Did your church preach that money was evil? Did the people around you feel like victims? Did you see people growing up that tried to make their lives better? Or was the overall feeling one of “there’s no use trying”? The messages and experiences built your money beliefs are varied, complex and unique to you. It’s your job to sort out and make some changes.
Regardless of where the various parts of our money belief system originated, we need to explore the contents in order to understand ourselves. When we learn about ourselves we are then able to makes changes and have those changes become permanent. It’s key to know ourselves as well as possible, not only to make changes in our money beliefs, but also to fully understand what kind of new life would be best for us.