That great philosopher Woody Allen famously (and hilariously) said, “For a man to be truly happy all he needs is the love of a good woman…or the love of a bad woman, depending on how much happiness he can withstand.”
From my observation, there are a lot of people who cannot withstand happiness. They cannot stand much prosperity in their lives either.
You’ve heard the oft-repeated phrase of a sports team or an individual “snatching victory from the jaws of defeat”? Well, there are many people who like to do the opposite – snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!
I’m talking about people who…
-Win the lottery or get a big inheritance, only to be penniless a few years later
-Sell a winning stock, only to invest the proceeds into a losing stock
-Get a salary increase, only to blow it on solar powered coffee grinders, gold plated pet toilets and other “needed” items
-Sell their perfectly fine home, only to use all the profits to buy an even bigger home that they cannot afford and one that makes them house poor
There are a lot of ways people can accidently undermine their own success, but it always surprises me to see many people get in their own way financially. They self-sabotage.
What this essentially stems from is that their brain tries to protect them from “getting hurt” by doing what it thinks is best — which is to keep them within the confines of their financial comfort zone – some pre-determined (yet unconscious) level of wealth they’ve set for themselves.
Friends, money carries enormous emotional charge because of what it represents. It signifies power. We can use it to satisfy our material needs like food, clothing and shelter. A lack of money leads to pangs of scarcity. Money conjures up safety and security, having “enough” means you can stop worrying about monthly bills and retire comfortably. Not “having enough” can be fearful. It also evokes status, as a substantial net worth brings higher social status and its lack can lead to social rejection.
Your Money Imprint
You’ve heard of dog’s imprinting on their young, right? Imprinting is the process by which a puppy learns the behaviors of a parent, other dogs, humans or other beings, and gains some of his basic skills.
Similarly, we form a very powerful emotional relationship with money from an early age. The ramifications of these are tremendous and possibly life-long. They can either pre-program a person for financial success or inhibit their pursuit of it. Even more, you may not even be aware either way.
Was money a source of conflict or worry in your childhood? And what lessons did you learn from your parents? Think carefully, because those lessons may have been buried in day-to-day behavior they unconsciously imprinted onto you. They might have never talked about money at all and you now equate money with secrecy. Or shame. Or they might have dropped casual thoughts that made their way into your thinking: “Rich people are greedy”; “Money is the root of all evil”.
If you grew up in this type of environment, you most likely have a “lack imprint”. You learn quickly that there “isn’t enough,” and that the default reaction to any or every material wish is “we can’t afford it.” That can leave a strong imprint on you, as you begin to associate money with pain and fear.
So, what happens to adults with this type of imprint? They artificially and unconsciously set a watermark with money. Not enough and they get busy getting more money. However, when their net worth passes over the watermark, they do something astonishing – they start to get rid of money. Spending, wastefulness, carelessness and unnecessary risk taking. Pick your poison. It doesn’t matter. The brain is a very powerful tool and if you’ve embedded into it that you’re not comfortable with a certain amount of money, the brain goes into overdrive to get rid of it. Is it any wonder that the vast majority of lottery winners go broke? Their brain simply can’t handle that much money over their threshold, so the brain starts instructing the body to get rid of it.
Now, the converse is also true.
If you grew up with the notion that your family is successful with money, chances are you are going to do things in order to live that imprint. If you grew up understanding that money is a tool and that gratification can and should be delayed until an appropriate time in the future, chances are you make decisions that support financial security. If your childhood environment was filled with abundance and a “the sky’s the limit” philosophy, chances are your money watermark is off the charts.
So, does this mean that a person is stuck as an adult because of the money imprint they received as a child?
The point of today’s essay is to share the good news! You can (and should) build a new set of money beliefs if your child-mind was exposed to limiting and false philosophies about money. As Jim Rohn said, you are not a tree. You are not chained to the past beliefs about money.
“Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.” –Thomas Carlyle
Resetting Your Money Imprint
How do you reset your money imprint? There are a few steps to go through and I’ll walk you through them.
- Be conscious of your unconscious mind
Whenever you are dealing with any situation that involves money, start paying attention to your thoughts and feelings. Some of these signs may be very subtle and hard to pick up on, but they are worth paying attention to. What happens when you get more money – a salary increase, aunt Bessie leaves you a few thousand in her will or your investment portfolio has a great year? Do your thoughts immediately run to what you could buy? That laundry list of things you’d like to have? All the toys and shiny things? That’s your unconscious mind, acting like a giant rubber band, snapping you back to your money imprint. Pay attention to what you pay attention to. The first step in changing any undesired habit is awareness.
- You talking to me?
We’re always talking to ourselves. Our self-talk is like a teenager’s radio, always on! If your unconscious mind starts to think of all the things you could buy with your new found money, it’s literally saying this -“Contract, contract, contract!” Those chants are to draw you back to “your level” as your brain seeks to save you from possible disappointment at the next level. Replace that nonsense with a different chant – “Expand, expand, expand!” Instead of contracting your net worth due to spending, train your mind to expand it with investment. Friends, there’s a reason we have a middle class. It’s because the middle class goes after only what is necessary rather than something big. Don’t just think big financially, talk big. I’m not referring to silly happy talk but positive, uplifting words that propel you, not constrict you. Start today to think and talk way beyond your current goals. Think of your words as stepping stones, they are either taking you back to the doldrums or higher to new levels of life.
- Well, look at that
Did you know that you’ll never go where you can’t first see yourself going? If you see yourself having “just enough”, guess how much you’ll have? Yep, just enough. Just like a dog that obediently stays within a fenced yard, your mind will keep you fenced in to your financial yard. The way to change this is quite simple. Make compelling mental pictures of wealth and income. For instance, it could be envisioning your bank account balance with another comma in it. Can you see it? What about the feeling of being financially independent, free from money worries and someone else directing your days. Can you see it? Don’t take this for granted. Too many people walk thru life with this attitude – “Well sure, I’d be happy with more money.” The problem? These people never actually see themselves with more money. They see more money as just some random event that may, or may not happen, like being struck by lightning. Ramp up what you see unfolding in your life. Take a few minutes every day in a quiet place to visualize your desired outcome and how good it feels, how much you want it, etc. No matter how you do it, build that picture up and make it really compelling. And practice living in it every day. With practice, gradually, you will become acclimatized to more wealth, removing any small mental barriers that may have been there-and helping to erase your previous money imprint.
Friends, look at your net worth balance for the past 10 years. Has it grown, decreased or stayed flat? If it’s been flat or decreasing, you most likely have a limit imprint at a certain level of money that’s holding you back. We live in an incredible time for wealth building. More millionaires are being created, and at a faster pace, than any time in recorded history. Contrary to what the talking heads on TV say, there’s no shortage of wealth. Quite the opposite! In fact, the only shortage I see relative to wealth is the number of people who have the courage to break thru their own self-imposed limits and go get the wealth they deserve.
Imprint upon your mind that you are destined for success, that you must be wealthy. Imprint on your mind that there are no limits for you. Imprint on your mind that you will be financially free… and your mind will take you there.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
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Ready for more tips on how to achieve the free life? Check-out more articles from the blog archives below:
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