Money is a topic that we don't learn about in school. So where do we learn about how to be responsible with our money? We grow up watching and listening to our parents, many of whom are not very good role models when it comes to money. We are constantly bombarded with movies and TV programs that show us fantasy versions of rich or poor people that aren't true. Commercials about buying lots of stuff and using credit cards without a thought about paying high interest rates bombard us. The result is that many of us live beyond our means, are in debt or even lose our homes and our marriages.
You may identify with some of the people I describe in my book, Born To Spend, since I have counseled hundreds of harried people and frightened couples who don't know how to spend or save responsibly. Here are some suggestions for letting go of Money Madness and learning to use money wisely.
Are You A Have Or Have-not?
What is your definition of money? Connie and Stuart, a long married couple in their fifties, were stuck in a marital gridlock because of their beliefs about money. Here is what happened when I asked them that question. Stuart had suffered a heart attack and now Connie was extremely anxious about spending and saving. She earnestly told me, "Money is something you have to save up so you’ll have it for a rainy day." Stuart, a successful businessman, was irate. "Money is something you use to make more money with," he explained. "Money is a tool."
Connie saw money as limited and finite, while Stuart thought of money as a fluid medium that was flexible and growing. With my help Connie was able to acknowledge that Stuart had been very successful in business using money as a tool. She realized that she could trust his track record and his financial know-how. As we explored his angry feelings, Stuart came to understand Connie’s fears about being widowed and unable to take care of herself. As a result they were able to resume their loving relationship.
Beliefs Can Sabotage Money Success
What you believe about money will usually influence your outlook on life and your actions. In my "Money Madness" class, I also ask students to define money. Common answers are: Money is a medium of exchange for goods and services; Money is a doorway to freedom; Money is something always out of your grasp; Money is a burden; or Money is an abstract idea.
I also ask the group to complete these sentences: Rich people are ___. Poor people are ___. Various attendees replied: Rich people are mean; Rich people take advantage of others; Rich people inherit their money; Rich people are insensitive to others. Conversely, some people believe: Poor people are the salt of the earth and poor people get into heaven. No wonder my students were having trouble increasing their prosperity!
Set Yourself Free
If you are struggling with money problems, think about your family’s attitude toward money and success. What kind of role models did you have? Did your family disparage money or enjoy wealth? Did they tell you that you could or would succeed? Did they say one thing but do another? List all the negative beliefs your role models taught you were the truth about money and about your prosperity. Ask yourself if these ideas are helping you or hurting you.
Here are a few examples to consider:
- Money is the root of all evil.
- Money is a burden. People will try to rip me off if I have a lot.
- Women can't earn as much as men.
- Women are supposed to be taken care of.
- If I become rich, I will forget my friends and family.
- If I become rich, my friends won’t like me any more.
- I shouldn’t do better than my father/mother.
- People who have a lot of money have gotten it in illegal ways.
- Saving money is hoarding and it's wrong to hoard money.
- I can amass money, but I can’t hold on to it.
- Spiritual people should not have a lot of money.
- I deserve to suffer. I deserve to be poor.
- Nothing ever works for me. I never get a break in life.
A wise minister I once knew used to say, "The Truth with a capital T is true for everyone, everywhere, all the time. If it isn’t, then it’s just your opinion and you can change your opinion." If your beliefs are hurting you more than helping you, perhaps they are only opinions.
After you let go of the self-destructive thought write a positive affirmation that feels true. After tapping on your negative belief you might laugh at the thought that if you become rich you'd forget your friends and family. Instead, you know in your heart that you would still love being with them and would feel happy to be more generous toward them. Write your affirmations down. Hang the list on your fridge, your bathroom mirror, or the dashboard of your car. Each time you see it read the positive statements out loud. Do this for 21 days and see what occurs.
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