Throughout our childhood and early adulthood, we all subconsciously adopt beliefs, stories, attitudes and assumptions about money. These inner thoughts become our reality, and though we may not recognize it, they heavily influence many of our financial decisions throughout life. We often unknowingly make, spend and save money based on these internalized ideas, even when doing so may not serve us well. The good news? In a very specific way, we can recognize and overcome those money beliefs that hinder our ability to achieve financial goals.
All of the positive thoughts and assumptions we develop about money over time help us attain financial and investing peace of mind. Simply acknowledging these beliefs empowers us to draw on them deliberately whenever necessary. On the other hand, our experiences of unhappiness, frustration, worry, anxiety or fear about financial matters are typically rooted in deep-seeded patterns of thought that we never really think to question. It is only when we have the willingness and insight to uncover these money beliefs that we can take affirmative steps to defeat them.
The truth is we have the ability to create new beliefs and control negative thoughts. Let’s dig in and explore the four fundamental steps involved. With these expert tips, you can finally stop negative thoughts from holding you back financially and eroding your investing peace of mind.
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STEP 1: IDENTIFY YOUR MONEY BELIEFS
We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge, which is why this first stage is so important. Many of our money beliefs are derived from family or the culture we live in. Within our own communities, we are exposed to certain sets of agreed-upon truths regarding money and wealth. There are subtle and not-so-subtle messages just about everywhere, from books, magazines, newspapers and billboards to music, radio programs, television shows and commercials. Even when we go to church or participate in community events, we are subject to formulated ideas about how to make, spend or invest our money.
Ever heard the saying “Money doesn’t grow on trees” or “It takes money to make money”? These are the types of phrases that we accept as truth in our minds, whether they are helpful and accurate or not. The challenge is determining which of the many messages out there have played a role in dictating your own set of money beliefs. Reflect on your individual interpretations, attitudes and assumptions about money, noting the ideas developed early in your life that continue to affect you today. This initial exercise can help you understand how your individual perceptions of money have impacted your financial life.
STEP 2: ANALYZE YOUR MONEY BELIEFS
Once you have defined the ingrained ideas that govern your subconscious approach to money, you’re able to examine them. The better you understand your own money beliefs, the more power you have to make smart financial choices. Begin simply by analyzing whether each of your beliefs is positive or negative:
- Positive: Gives strength and capacity to move forward. Example characteristics include fun, energizing, illuminating, alive, joyful and powerful.
- Negative: Causes worry, confusion and suffering, and reveals itself in the form of ongoing complaints. Example characteristics include non-humorous, energy-draining, self-involved, desperate, stressful and shameful.
We can all admit on some level that, as human beings, we like to complain. It’s easy to talk about the things that bother us and keep us from doing, being or having everything we want in our lives. But it’s usually an effort to elicit agreement and understanding from other people instead of an opportunity to resolve the underlying issues and move on.
To turn the tables on this approach, list your ongoing, persistent complaints that can cause stress and confusion about money. These are the things you find yourself thinking, saying or feeling annoyed about over and over again. Consider how these complaints draw on your previously identified negative money beliefs.
STEP 3: UNLEASH YOUR MONEY DEMONS
Unfortunately, the complaints and underlying negative beliefs you have about money can interfere with your quality of life. They can actually deter you from realizing your dreams and achieving true investing success. That’s why they’re called money demons. In order to effectively halt them, it is necessary to:
- State them. Specifically call out your most prevalent, negative beliefs or persistent complaints about money. These are the beliefs you’re going to take steps to defeat.
- Clarify the personal price. Get to know these beliefs better by uncovering the personal price of each one, considering areas such as income, savings, confidence, satisfaction, relationships, communication, personal happiness, health and wellbeing. Understanding what these beliefs cost you helps fuel your motivation to overcome them.
- Explore the emotional gains. It’s crucial to take a brutally honest look at the emotional gains derived from keeping your money demons in place. After all, you wouldn’t pay such a hefty personal price without receiving some kind of benefit, such as control, righteousness, justification, a sense of safety or avoidance of communication. Own up to what you’ve been getting out of these longstanding beliefs. It may be the toughest part of this journey, but taking responsibility for your emotional gains enables you to free yourself from them.
STEP 4: DEFEAT YOUR MONEY DEMONS
Once you’ve fully explored your money demons, you have new power to overcome them. This power is derived from a chain reaction that begins with your beliefs and ends with your future. In every instance, your beliefs dictate your actions, which then determine your outcomes. This set of outcomes defines your future.
For many people, this process remains hidden. When you respond to belief systems you have accepted but have never really chosen, it diminishes your potential actions and outcomes, thereby limiting your control over your own future. Once you understand this chain reaction, however, you open up a world of opportunities to design your future.
The wonderful thing about beliefs is that once they are clearly identified, they are malleable. We can choose to accept or reject them. Instead of allowing our beliefs to be shaped by the external elements of our lives, we have the capacity to create new, positive ones. A guardian belief is a positive belief that makes you feel strong, propels you forward and empowers you to slay a money demon whenever it comes back to haunt you. To create guardian beliefs for your money demons, devise a new interpretation of each. If you really believe in them, your guardian beliefs can protect you from worry, complaints and fear about money and help you break through to investing peace of mind.
Ultimately, the best way to defeat negative money beliefs is to take action. Review your list of guardian beliefs and articulate the first action that someone holding each of these beliefs could take. Then implement! And remember that your financial coach can be your greatest ally in this battle, so don’t underestimate the value of seeking outside support to defeat your money demons.
To access even more tips on navigating your financial and investing fears, and gain clarity on how to achieve true peace of mind, get your free copy of the Investor Awareness Guide
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