When you think about your finances, what word immediately jumps into your mind? What feeling do you get in your body? What visuals do you see? Does money have the power to constrict you?
Recent studies confirm that financial distress remains the top stressor in Americans’ lives and is the number one reason for marital discord. As a therapist in New York City for 14 years, I have learned that having money does not necessarily equate to achieving happiness. In fact, many of my more privileged clients have major issues with money that create guilt, dependency, low self-esteem and an array of other issues. Money in family relationships is never as simple as dollars and cents. It can be used to love, punish, control and reward. The financial culture in your family has informed all of your financial choices.
The first step to decoding your relationship to money is to understand your financial culture. You have a blueprint of “How It Really Is,” according to your family of origin, which was downloaded into your subconscious mind as a child. I use the term “blueprint” because your internal financial belief system is like the architectural blueprint for a house … that someone else designed. If you came from a culture of financial fear and lack, you may pinch your pennies, be wary of investing and, regardless of how much money you save, still feel there will never be enough. However, just like the architectural blueprint, you can change your mind’s framework. If you want to move from the fear of financial lack into the freedom of financial abundance, the first step is to understand your current blueprint and what you can do to change it. Answer the questions below to gain clarity.
What was your family culture about money?
Who controlled the finances?
Was money used as a reward?
Was money withheld as a punishment?
As a child, did you worry about money?
Were your basic needs met?
Did your parents fight about money?
What were you taught about money from your parents or caregivers?
Was there an open or closed dialogue about money in your home?
Did your family consider themselves wealthy, middle class or poor?
Take time to really marinate on your answers and allow yourself to dig deep and really feel what the financial climate was like growing up. Once you write down your answers, you will gain insight into your downloaded money myths.
The second step in creating a healthier relationship to money is to realize that there is no “reality” about abundance. Your parents taught you what they did and that became your reality about money. That does not make it reality or a permanent belief. Many parents pass their money fears down to children thinking they are protecting or preparing them for “the way it is.” The way it was for your parents does not have to be the way it is for you. Family systems that teach children money-management skills, a strong work ethic and concrete tools create a more abundant blueprint. Financial fear creates constriction around money. Since we are all made up of energy, feelings of constriction block your flow of abundance and cloud your ability to see potential opportunities for financial gain.
So if you don’t like what you have discovered about your inherited money blueprint, fear not. The best news is that you have the power right now to re-draw it.
Below are the first action steps for your New and Improved Money Blueprint.
Be Here Now. By creating the ability to be present in your life, you create the opening to catch the fearful thought before it gets filed in the “reality” bin. The only way to change ingrained thought patterns is to be aware enough, in the present moment, to stop and change the thought. You can achieve this through breathing exercises, daily meditation and awareness. Changing anything on purpose is almost impossible if you don’t have internal stillness and silence daily. You need to slow down enough to become the observer of your thoughts, to sort through them and figure out which are fear-based and not serving your purpose and which are opportunities for you to create the life of your dreams.
Words Have Wings. Be aware of the way you talk about money and change all of the language that is not in line with your goals. Use positive words of abundance instead of negative words of fear and scarcity. Change “We have to pay off debt” to “Our abundance flows with ease.” We create change with the words we use, the thoughts we hold in our mind and the feelings they inspire.
Manifesting Nightly Ritual. As the last thing you do before you fall asleep, take time to think about what you want to create in your financial life and conjure the feelings of having it. Then release it (don’t hold onto those feelings or begin to worry about how you’re going to become wealthy, debt-free, etc.) and doze off into la-la land.
Seeing is Believing. Create a vision and feeling board of what you want in your life. Look at the board a few times a day and engage all of your senses to create the full experience of actually having what is on the board.
Changing your mind about anything is work. The realization that you can change your mind and your fiscal lot in life is the start. This is not magical thinking, but science. New neural pathways are formed in your brain as you change your habitual thoughts, language and feelings from fear to freedom. So quiet your doubting mind, try something new and see what transpires.
There are a plethora of other factors that go into the psychology of money and abundance. If you believe that your financial dysfunction is too deep for you to negotiate on your own, find a good psychotherapist to guide you on this journey.
Whether you go it alone or hire a professional, trust me, changing your mind is the first step to transforming money fear into money freedom.