toxic money beliefs that may be holding you back {guest post by alex craig}


By Guest Blogger, Alex Craig

Does a dog know he is a dog? Does a fish realize it’s swimming in water? When we’re caught up in our thoughts, do we even realize we’re thinking?

When you stop to look for them, you’ll notice that hidden assumptions (or subconscious beliefs) are all around us — every minute, everywhere you go. And of course, these assumptions influence the way we act and think.

Many assumptions may be positive or at least benign, but the negative assumptions that can end up taking a serious toll on our behaviors and leave us thinking, “Why does this always happen to me?”

Money is one of the most common areas where these subconscious beliefs rear their heads — and they can almost become “toxic” in how they affect your choices in this aspect of your life.

Below, I’ve outlined 3 of the most common toxic money beliefs. To minimize the impact of these hidden assumptions, we need to reality-check our thinking and reframe our situations.

(Note: At the end of this post, I’ll also share with you a special gift that will help you identify your own worst hidden assumptions — everywhere from your eating to your career.)

Toxic Belief #1: Money is scarce.

As long as you hold this belief, you’re more likely to sabotage opportunities both to make more money and give more money.

This belief is the assumption that if I give you a dollar, I lose a dollar.

Back in our more primal days, the scarcity mindset was a natural instinct that helped ensure our survival. This was a very useful instinct then, but it no longer serves much of a purpose for most of us in the developed world, now that we’re no longer competing with bears for our lunch (or trying to avoid becoming a tiger’s dinner).

This is the belief that there’s only a small pie to go around, and you have to acquire as much of the pie as possible and hold onto it for dear life. Sounds relaxing, right? Instead, perhaps consider that the pie has the ability to infinitely expand.

Think about it: the United States has continued to create more value from manual labor to technology services, and the standard of living in the U.S. has increased. Our parents and grandparents had far fewer career options than we do, which has expanded our ability to find and follow our true passion, rather than just working to work.

So when you find yourself thinking in scarcity mode, remind yourself that people pay you for the value you create.

Want more money? Deliver more value. Want a raise or a promotion? Find a way to expand your skillset or bring existing skills into your work in a new and innovative way.

When you begin focusing on the value you create, you’ll find that money will follow. Most importantly, though, you’ll be making a difference in your work and life by delivering more value  to the people you serve.

Toxic Belief #2: Wealthy people are materialistic.

Consider who first comes to mind when you think of “rich people”: Is it Paris Hilton? Donald Trump? Bill Gates?

If you think of people like the first two, that may be indicative of a belief that money makes people snobs, and it’s materialistic and shallow (read: the opposite of spiritual) to have money.

We might say things like, “People who are rich only got there because of who they stepped on when they were climbing the ladder.”

When we look at a wealthy person and think she must be are materialistic, morally bankrupt, or must have done something unethical to get their money, we’re in hardcore judgment territory.

When we judge affluent people and money in an evil way, we will never allow ourselves to have more money because our brain will not allow us to become the evil person that we believe those with money are.

So how do we reframe this toxic belief?

First, realize that this assumption is vast overgeneralization. Yes, some families will pass down a legacy of a well-known name and a trust fund to match. But if you look below the surface, you’ll find that plenty of affluent people got their money from working hard, delivering a lot of value, and intelligently saving and investing. 

Second, acknowledge that wealth is not synonymous with selfishness. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are among the world’s wealthiest and its biggest philanthropists.

Finally, recognize that money is just a representation for what we value. When we use money, we are trading it for something we care about, and giving money so a person can go buy more of what they value.

To me, this reframed mindset seems more spiritually-aligned, because it encourages you to focus on how you can create more value for yourself and other people.

Toxic Belief #3: Money doesn’t really matter.

When I was younger, I was really foolish. I believed that if I asked for a raise, I was entitled to get it.

I was 16 and working at a swimming pool and had been there for about a year, so I asked my boss for a raise. He told me no, and then told me that money is not everything and I should love my job because I am saving lives.

When I hear people say money doesn’t really matter, I see a well-intentioned idea turn into a self-sabotaging practice. How? Most commonly, this belief causes people to charge less than what they are worth.

Of course, it’s true that life is not about money. Beyond the base level of security, money is just a tool that we use to obtain more of the things and experiences that we value.

If we lived a money-less Burning Man existence, we’d be paying for yoga class with baked goods, and trading doctor’s appointments for massages. (Okay, it sounds kind of awesome, right? But alas, it’s not the world we live in.)

Reframe your mindset to see money as an important tool to help you create more value in your life and the lives of others you want to serve. 

So now what?

There you have it — the 3 most common hidden assumptions people have about money. Of course, we have these assumptions about far more than just money, too.

I’ve put together a guide to help you identify your hidden assumptions, so you can evaluate how they’re working (or not working) for you and how to reframe them for greater peace of mind and success. The guide includes common assumptions about health, career, spirituality, and more. (Access Here).

About Guest Blogger, Alex Craig Alex Craig is the founder of Have a Rich Marriage, which helps couples live a fuller and more rich marriage, whatever that means for them. To this date, Alex has helped many live marriage on their terms rather than on the world’s terms.

let's get real about money: common sense is *not* common practice

Money In this era of "BIGGER! EXTREME! UPGRADE! MORE MORE MORE!", I feel a serious need right now to simplify and declutter. I'm not exactly hopping on the minimalist bandwagon yet, but this December has felt like the perfect time to purge. (Sidebar, I always feel kinda weird using that word given its very specific meaning in the eating disorder treatment world I live in. I digress; it's the word I need.)

I've been cleaning out my pantry, freezer, bookshelves, and home office over the past few days. Last week, I cleaned out my work office and rearranged my desk. I started working on my 2015 "Create Your Shining Year" goals workbook, and was slightly annoyed when I got to the section about financial goals.

I don't want to think about money! Money gives me anxiety that makes me want to crawl back in bed. That's not why I bought the workbook, after all! I just want to explore my goals in more fun and exciting parts of life, dammit.

Yep. Classic Ostrich Approach. So much happier with my head in the sand! ...until those days that I have to peek one eye open, and get anxious and frustrated about the state of affairs.

So what did I do? After some initial avoidance (just turn the page!), I made a decision to shift my annoyance about this particular interruption to my sparkly, fun goal-setting process. I realized that at this moment in my life, money IS the biggest obstacle to me feeling truly free. Stupid workbook knew exactly what it was doing.

2014 was a pretty kick-ass year for me, but I have just never been great with money, and this year was no exception. (Plus, even with help from parents, the wedding added on more-than-average expenses.) I have gotten better overall than I used to be, especially at not buying stupid crap (like $25 eyeshadows) or way more (low-quality) clothes than any reasonable person needs, but I have a ways to go.

I am a pro at creating budgets (noticed I said "creating," not following) and setting up accounts on things like Mint with the best of intentions (Momma always said the road to hell was paved with good intentions), but then tend to go back to Ostrich mode pretty quickly. I've also read and listened to a ton of material on personal finance, having followed Suze Orman and Ramit Sethi's work on and off for years now. But alas, as the adage goes... it's not what you know that matters; it's what you do. Common sense is not common practice.

What Scarcity & Gratitude Have To Do With It

Like most people, I don't like to feel restricted. Telling me I can't/shouldn't have a $4 latte just makes me really want a $4 latte. (That's one reason why Ramit's advice is so good -- he focuses a lot on the psychology and behavior change elements of personal finance.) It's all connected to our scarcity culture, fear of deprivation, and comparison/fear of not measuring up (gotta keep up with the Joneses, right?) As Brené Brown writes, "We wake up in the morning and we say, 'I didn't get enough sleep.' And we hit the pillow saying, 'I didn't get enough done.'" In one way or another, we believe that we never are enough, and that we never have enough. And of course, the opposite of scarcity is a mindset of abundance and gratitude.

Whenever I intentionally practice gratitude via  journaling or meditation, I usually (and understandably) focus on the most important things -- my family, my friends, a good job, a roof over my head, my health. And obviously it's important to be grateful for all of that. But I wonder... if I were to practice gratitude for the "stuff" in my life, perhaps I can develop more of an abundance mindset and be less threatened by the thought of scarcity or not measuring up that leads me to wanting more "stuff"?

It might sound silly, but go with me here: If I can practice gratitude for my breadth of education and my good collection of books (many of which I have yet to read!), perhaps I will feel less of an urgent need to educate myself further through expensive training courses and buying more and more books. (Ironically, Tara Mohr's new book, Playing Big, has helped me see how I use constant education-and-credential-seeking as a way to put off actions to play bigger NOW in my life.) After all, that is what most of my discretionary spending has been on in 2014.

The Power of Commitment + Action

For some reason, I feel more energized than ever right now to turn my knowledge about personal finance into real, life-changing action. The time is right, and I'm grabbing it. I've taken several actions already -- i.e. deleting all credit cards from my Amazon account and asking my husband to stow my cards away somewhere (most of them have $0 balance, but I want to put some serious obstacles in my way to overspending).  I made a commitment to myself that I'm not putting another dollar on a credit card for the foreseeable future -- maybe ever, but at least for a few years. And I'm now making that commitment here, too. The research is mixed on whether making a public commitment toward a goal helps or hinders it, but a great piece on this topic from Scientific American posits that, "The more you publicly commit to an attitude, the better able you are to resist any attempts to change it, and this is largely due to those increases in confidence and perceived importance/centrality."

So there it is. Some vulnerability and honesty that, while I have my shit together in a lot of ways, I also have some serious work to do in this area. And I'm guessing some of you reading this know what that's like. It's one of the topics we most want to avoid talking about, even with close friends and family, which means it's probably exactly what we need to talk about.

If any of this resonates with you, I invite you to join me! Take your head out of the sand, get clear and current with your finances, and talk to someone about it. Ain't nothin' to be ashamed of. And if you want to share your own questions, worries, or reflections in the comments, I'd love to engage on this topic.