Perhaps it’s true that money can’t buy happiness (although research shows it can improve happiness if well spent). But money does make life easier, and can bring immense comfort and peace of mind.
Yet money is often a tremendous source of worry. Anxiety over budgets and expenses can cause sleepless nights. The daily grind of work can feel like hamster wheel.
Having faced bankruptcy at the helm of a financial markets education company during the global financial crisis, I once struggled deeply with angst about holding onto money. I’ve researched this and tried various tactics in my own life. Now, I believe the secret to achieving financial abundance more naturally and easily lies not in running faster on the hamster wheel, but in undoing the focus on lack that fuels the cycle in the first place.
It sounds like new-age mumbo jumbo, but it’s based on brain science—in particular, our brain’s reticular activating system, which sorts incoming data based on what we believe to be true, important, or relevant. By changing what we sort for we change what we notice. Then we can suddenly see a different set of opportunities that we were effectively blind to before, transforming everything.
Four steps will help start the process:
Get out of Financial “Scare-City.”
The notion that there’s never enough money to go around comes from an age-old mindset that the earth’s resources are limited, that we’d better grab and hold onto what we can lest someone else take it.
This leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy, a state of fear where we can’t see the many possibilities that will create or increase our wealth. I refer to this mindset as “Scare-City.”
If we feed our fear, it will win and control us. But if we starve it, it will weaken.
Consuming a lot of fearful and negative media is one way we feed our fear. Back when I when I was a university student, if I watched the nightly news and read daily newspapers I developed intense fears about the possibility of global disease pandemics, overpopulation, water shortages and famine. In other words: about danger and especially, lack.
Yet these negative outcomes are not as likely as we’re led to believe. Shifting my attention away from them weakened my belief in scarcity while allowing me to disconnect from my inherent negativity bias. After subscribing to science magazines and online sources of information that focused more on solutions and innovations, I became more energized and optimistic.
So switch off the negative news. The tone of the information we consume is important to our brains.
Make Friends with Frustration.
The next step is to stop fearing frustration and to see it instead as a powerful indicator. For me, frustration shows what’s not working. Once I see that, I can ask “why?” and treat the root cause, not just the symptoms.
Just as taking aspirin for a headache that might in fact be caused by ergonomic issues addresses only symptoms, so does jumping in and “doing” something about financial frustration. For example: working harder, making a budget or sacrificing more. These actions can feel like a real struggle, so the frustration persists. If the actual cause of my frustration is that I believe deep down that money won’t come easily and I’ll always struggle to make ends meet, it will recur no matter what short-term fix-it pills I take.
Bust the Money Myths Holding Us Back.
Fears of scarcity are often rooted in sayings such as “money doesn’t grow on trees” that have been passed down over generations and shape our thinking. But in fact, these sayings—which include “it takes money to make money,” and “you have to work hard for your money”—are nothing more than myths, or limiting beliefs that can hold us back, driving us to behave in ways that sabotage our best efforts financially.
Busting the myths begins with becoming aware of our beliefs in them, and recognizing how they affect our choices and behavior.
A myth I held onto far too long is “easy come, easy go.” My incredibly luxurious childhood fell apart when I was 11, when my parents lost all their wealth through a series of bad choices. I coded that experience into a solid internal belief that whatever comes, also goes…so as an adult I experienced an exhausting, repetitive roller-coaster ride of money ups and downs. It took coming to the brink of bankruptcy before I recognized the pattern: my outer experiences were being driven by an unhelpful inner belief. Once I saw this, I was then able to reprogram my internal hard drive and changed that to “easy come, easy grow.”
Belief change is pretty easy once we’ve identified a) the beliefs that are holding us back, b) why we chose to take on those beliefs in the first place, and c) what beliefs would serve us better now.
Parashift: Be the Change.
I call this process of changing beliefs parashifting, because it’s about changing the paradigm through which we view the world and moving from Scare-City to a mindset of Abundance.
Scare-City is a place of competition and struggle where we feel inadequate, jealous and doubtful of our abilities. What comes back to us, then, is more of the same: financial hardships, stress, and exhaustion.
Operating from an Abundance mindset we know that we have much to offer the world and can be generous with our gifts. We collaborate rather than compete, share rather than compare. We see opportunities and feel excited, full of optimism, energy and drive. Life flows. We engage without grasping or hoarding. What comes back to us is abundance, satisfaction, and joy.
But it’s not necessarily a “do it and then you’re done” kind of change. For me, it’s more like a cycle of forgetting and remembering. Sometimes I slip back into the Scare-City mindset.
However, by staying aware of the symptoms like frustration indicating I’ve slipped and by continuing to clean my subconscious programming while surrounding myself with like-minded others, I gradually attain a more solid footing in the Abundance mindset.
There, the positive change—marked by fun, wonder, inspiration and abundance—ripples out in ways we can’t even imagine.
Doing Good while Doing Well: Right Livelihood Meets Shambhala Vision.
Author: Julie Ann Cairns
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Pixabay, courtesy of the author
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