We all walk through life with beliefs that determine how we act.
On a grand scale, a person might believe that love is reserved for fairy tales, so he settles for less-than-great relationships. After all, that’s the best he can hope for (or so he thinks). Because he has never had a great relationship, his belief becomes more and more solidified over time.
On a smaller scale, a person might believe that he lacks coordination, so he never jumps on the dance floor or plays a game of pick-up basketball. After all, he will make a fool of himself (or so he thinks). Because he shies away from activities that might allow him to develop his coordination, he walks into adulthood without having developed athletic or dance abilities.
On the flip side, a person who witnessed his parents or grandparents in a loving, romantic relationship might think that great relationships are the norm, so he walks away from relationships that are mediocre. Having found great relationships in the past, his belief that solid, loving, romantic relationships are possible is solidified.
On a smaller scale, imagine that as a child he had a knack for baseball or hip hop. As a result, he always jumps on the dance floor. He plays sports. His skills get better and better with practice, so he walks into adulthood confident in his body awareness.
Whatever they are, our beliefs are driving forces. When they are empowering beliefs, they cause us to behave in ways that allow us to grow and thrive. When they are limiting beliefs, they stop us from taking the actions that would allow us to grow and build our skills.
Yet, most people do not identify their beliefs, so they cannot challenge the ones that are disempowering and replace them with beliefs that would serve them better.
Nowhere is this more obvious than with respect to money and finances.
As a resilience expert, I work with people who want not only to overcome obstacles, but also to thrive in spite of their challenges. One of the first things we address are limiting beliefs. With respect to finances, two beliefs are particularly pervasive and disempowering:
1. I don’t have enough money and have no way to make more.
2. People who have a lot of money are lucky, or they exploited someone to get it.
Both of these beliefs are limiting because they dissuade a person from taking steps that would improve his or her financial situation. Believing that you don’t have enough money and have no way to make more is the same thing as believing you lack coordination. It assumes that you cannot get better, that you are fixed in place, and that you are doomed to struggle with money forever.
But that does not have to be true. Just like a person could take dance, yoga, boxing, or karate lessons to improve coordination, a person can find ways to improve their financial situation and increase their ability to make money.
It might not happen overnight, but it certainly won’t ever happen if you don’t even believe it’s a possibility.
Imagine how much more powerful you will be if you replace the limiting belief, “I don’t have enough money and have no way to make more,” with an empowering belief like, “This experience of wanting more money has made me eager to expand my skillset and learn all I can about increasing my value to employers and clients. I am an honest, hard-working person, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to improve my prospects.”
With this belief, you would seek out advice—maybe even find a mentor. You would take classes or get certified in skills that would increase your pay. You would walk through your days looking for opportunities, which you would certainly miss if you had chosen to feel defeated. You would learn and grow, and your attitude would attract people who would want to help you.
The same goes with a person who believes that money is about luck or exploitation. If you believe that people who have had great financial success are simply lucky, and that you have been unlucky, then what would encourage you to seek out resources or expand your skillset? Why bother, since you are not one of the lucky ones.
Similarly, the idea that the only way to make a lot of money requires exploiting others would dissuade any compassionate person from even trying to make “a lot” of money. Doing so would automatically make you a bad person.
This belief could be replaced with a more empowering belief like, “Some people have good luck, and some have bad luck, but I’m going to do everything I can to stack the decks in my favor. When opportunity presents itself, I will be ready, and I will make sure to be good to people on my way up the ladder of financial success.”
These might sound like simple ideas, but many people don’t realize they have negative beliefs about money that are holding them back.
One quick way to uncover beliefs, is to finish the stem sentences below. Write the first thing that comes to mind without editing yourself. Your first answer will be the most revealing.
Money and I…
My relationship with money is…
My present compensation demonstrates that I…
If you already have empowering beliefs around money, good for you. If you do not, it simply means you need to actively look for evidence of more empowering beliefs. The evidence is there. You just have to make a conscious effort to see it. It will be one of the most rewarding things you do for yourself.