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How to Change Your Thoughts and Improve Your Finances

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Careful what you think; it becomes what you say.
Careful what you say; it becomes what you believe.
Careful what you believe; it becomes what you do.
Careful what you do; it becomes who you are.


—Zen Proverb


It was freeing to write my personal story, White Trash Girl to CEO: My Money Story. The encouraging response has been moving and even some of my best friends learned things. I am hopeful that my insights going forward will help people learn about healing their own relationships with money and how their thoughts, beliefs, and actions are affecting their financial lives. I have coaching clients who are independently wealthy yet still in constant fear of some major setback that will leave them penniless. This is due to unresolved emotions around money. I have middle-aged female clients who fear they are not capable of supporting themselves should they get laid off, have a serious illness, or if their husbands leave them for newer models. This fear is also due to unresolved emotions around money. With the state of the current economy and uncertainty, more people are looking for answers to their financial dilemmas and new ways of understanding their own financial personas. 


Most of us want the same things: peace of mind, security for our families, and to know that no matter what happens in our lives financially, we can handle it. Unfortunately most of us don’t have that luxury and I believe that in most cases, it is because people don’t have an emotionally healthy relationship with their finances.


Your finances are an extension of your concept about yourself and your place in society and the world. People’s current financial personas consists not only of external factors such as how much money they earn and what they owe, but also the internal environment of their thoughts, beliefs, and emotions (TBEs). As noted in the Zen proverb above, your thoughts lead to your beliefs that lead to your behaviors that lead to who you are—and that includes your current financial situation. This presumes that financial situations do not just happen to us, but that we subconsciously draw in whatever and whomever we need to give external expression to our internal condition. Accepting this allows us to see that situations such as failing to plan for expenses, getting laid off, being underpaid, getting behind in bills, losing money, and having no back-up plan, seem to be caused by external circumstances and are actually extensions of our internal world or TBEs.


Willpower, resolve, and persistence are controlled by the conscious mind, which is responsible for only 4 percent of your day-to-day thoughts and behaviors. That is why we become conditioned, as almost on autopilot, to stay the same weight, income, in the same unrewarding job, and stale relationship. Think about people who win the lottery. Within three years, over 80 percent lose all their money. This is because they are conditioned to be without money. Because they did not change their subconscious set point of how much money they should have, they revert back to that original point. 


Neuropathways are like the highways of the brain that are patterned by repeated thoughts, beliefs, and actions. That is why we can walk without thinking “left right left right.” These neuropathways also cause us to create the same money situations over and over.


Science has proven that it takes thirty to sixty days to retrain your brain. Think of it like the first time someone goes through the Amazon Rainforest. It would take many men with machetes to clear a path. However, each time the new path is traveled, or the new thoughts, beliefs, and emotions are expressed, the path gets clearer and clearer so that over time it becomes a new habit. These TBEs will then begin to lead to more productive money behaviors. Remember the Zen proverb above.


So, now that you realize that you may have some thoughts, beliefs, and emotions that are holding you back, where did they come from? What messages did you get about money growing up? What are those voices in your head that are driving your current money behaviors?


Most financial issues in a person’s life are re-enacting family dynamics. Individuals who felt undervalued as children might find themselves being underpaid as adults. Money frequently represents to each of us some aspect of love. Children who were abused or neglected often act out this absence of love though a history of under-earning and always needing to borrow money or be rescued. People who routinely lend money could be expressing the need to be loved and valuable. People with these childhood experiences often fear being lied to, cheated, betrayed, or victimized and these fears are sending out non-verbal messages that will likely attract people into their lives who will validate their fears and expectations. 


These experiences over time lead to feelings of procrastination (not balancing our check books), judgment or shame (for our current financial results), feeling stuck (situation so bad, don’t know a possible way out), anger (how could he have left me with this mess?), as well as resentment, blame, hate, impatience, rejection, humiliation, fear, insecurity, jealousy, and guilt. 


These feelings are a result of our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions, and if we don’t acknowledge them, process them, and heal them, they will cause us to reach for drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or whatever else we can find. It will certainly cause havoc in our financial lives. Being committed to becoming financially independent means being willing to shine a light into the dark places of our souls and look at what lurks there without running away. It means owning our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors, and our current money situation. As long as we are blaming people in our past or our present for our current financial situation, we are allowing these people-not ourselves to be in charge of our lives. 

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