When it comes to the study of human behavior, one of the most fascinating topics is behavioral economics. Why do we do the things that we do around money? This level of self-awareness is the first step in identifying money beliefs and patterns that are keeping us from enjoying, creating and spending money in healthy and productive ways.
We often operate our lives based on what we believe to be true. These beliefs may not be well-informed, rational or questioned – but we believe them all the same.
There was a study in the Journal of Financial Therapy on money scripts and beliefs that indicated there were 3 belief systems that were correlated to lower income and net worth.
They are money avoidance (money is a taboo subject), money worship (the more money you have the happier you’ll be), money status (equate money with importance).
There is a 4th belief: Money Vigilance. This type of belief is based upon the concept that money needs to be protected. It leads to more income but less enjoyment.
Many of us form these beliefs in childhood or through early adulthood. When you first heard about money from your parents, what were they saying? Did you never talk about money or did you talk about it in a way that created a feeling of never having enough?
Just like any other belief we form, these thoughts shape our feelings about money and what’s associated with money. If we believe that money isn’t something to talk about, we’ll likely not address questions around money such as “do we have what we want to have?” or “how do we want to plan for our future?” These questions may elicit a feeling of discomfort, as does sharing how much money you make or pay for your purchases.
When it comes to money, our ability to be pragmatic and direct will be critical to addressing the money beliefs you are holding. If you don’t have the level of wealth you desire or you feel a lot of anxiety around money, it is likely that you are harboring some of the beliefs we mentioned around status, avoidance, worship or vigilance.
The issue is we think that we think our money problem is that we don’t have enough of it when in reality, our money problem is what we believe about what we have.
When we think our money problem is that we don’t have enough, we think we will solve money problems through buying, not talking about it, accumulating more of it, or thinking highly about it.
Instead, when we see that our money problem is what we believe about what we have, we begin to clean up our thinking and beliefs around money.
I remember when I had this conversation with my mom as I was entering college. Why do we not care about money spiritually but care about money in this human experience? My mom’s answer was this, “we need money in this world.” That was as pragmatic and direct as you can get.
As someone with an MBA from an Ivy League school, you would think that money comes easily to me but I remember struggling with the thought around whether or not I deserved the amount of money I was being paid. The same thoughts of it’s not enough transferred into it’s too much. With these thoughts came feelings of proving my worth through overworking and stress. As if I had to be unhappy or stressed and in order to deserve that amount of money.
In reality, it’s not about enough or too much money. It’s about what you want or need and why.
Our relationship with money as an energy and as a belief system is one that needs to be examined and maintained, the same way we work with anyone in a relationship. Clinging and neediness is not healthy in a human relationship and it’s not healthy in your money relationship. Neither is avoidance or putting it on a pedestal. When we can bring a sense of real pragmatism, it looks like questioning everything without a judgement of good or bad labelled to it. Do you have enough money for your needs? Yes. Do you have enough money to do what you want to do with freedom in life? No.
That’s where we start. No good or bad or panic buttons that need to be activated. Just a sense of curiosity and interest.
When you start to rework your money beliefs, you begin to do the work of setting new standards and creating new identities for yourself as someone who has a healthy relationship with money.
From there, you make decisions that serve you and those around you – that help you increase your wealth and your ability to enjoy and have ease with money. None of which affects how worthy you are to have the money.
All of the wealth you have or don’t have was created from intention. Whether that was someone else’s intention to have wealth or not, or your own. This kind of intention comes from belief.
If you identify with these money beliefs I shared today, take a deep breath and know that this is the first step. When you start with the self-awareness that you have some of these thoughts running your financial blueprint, you can then begin to examine what it is you want to change and why.
My challenge for you this week is to take one of these beliefs and think about what impact it has had on your life financially and emotionally. Write down what it has done for you and ask yourself this one question. What do I want to believe instead?
Maybe it’s a belief that money is neutral and is an energy that reflects how I respond to it. Or that “I don’t have to compare myself to other people.” Or even that “the Universe is an abundant place”.
Either way, you’ll see that wealth begins with beliefs and that these beliefs don’t have to be tied to emotions of doubt, secrecy or resentment. In fact, the energy of mutual respect, appreciation and attention is the foundation of a healthy relationship with money.
If this topic resonates with you and you want to see transformational results in your life, you’ll love coaching. Getting coached consistently is the spark that will light the fire of inspiration to make the change you’re looking to make. It is the first step in creating clarity, making a massive shift and moving obstacles out of your way so you can move forward. You can go to www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more.