Last week we began the conversation about beliefs and how they can impact your experience of life. Today, we want to dig a bit deeper, using money as a focal point. I could have picked any number of subjects, and money seems to be one that gets people excited, exacerbated or otherwise engaged.
What kinds of beliefs do you hold about money? What is OK about money? What is not OK about money? What kinds of things have you heard about money from other people? Here's a list of commonly held beliefs that can limit your ability to produce money:
• Money can't buy me love or happiness
• It takes money to make money
• Poor is pure
• Money is the root of all evil
• It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven
• If I had it, how would I know who my real friends are (vs. those who are just after my money?)
• Easy come, easy go
• It takes hard work over a long time to make money
• We're not the kind of people who will ever have money
• Money is made on the backs of the poor
• Champagne tastes and a beer budget
• Money is dirty (filthy rich)
• Money will only burn a hole in your pocket
• Too rich for my blood
• The best things in life are free
Does this list seem familiar? I'll bet you can add a few I missed. So, let's think about this list of beliefs coupled with our earlier discussion about Symbols vs. Experience.
When I work with groups, I typically ask for a show of hands - who would like more money than they currently have? Most hands go up. Does yours? No big deal either way, just sort of a benchmark for the rest of the discussion.
The flippant response I typically give is that the only people telling the truth are the ones who did not raise a hand. Everyone else is fibbing. Well, sort of fibbing. The basic premise is that if you truly wanted more, you would have more, because you would do more about creating it.
The "what if" part of this conversation goes something like: "what if you could have anything you wanted and the only variables were your inner beliefs?"
If that were true, then each of us could create darn near anything.
Look back at the list we began to create earlier, the list of beliefs about money. Do you recognize any from the list that might hold a person back from having more money?
If you believe that "the best things in life are free," why would you need money? Don't get me wrong here - I'm not arguing with the truth or lack of truth in this or any other of these statements. It's just a question of what beliefs do you hold.
If you subscribe to the notion that money is made on the backs of other people's efforts, and you don't feel particularly good about "exploiting" others, then you might find it hard to make money.
If "it takes money to make money," and you don't have much to start with, then how can you ever make anything? Of course, it doesn't say that you have to have a lot of money to make money - just that you have to have some to start with. How about those people who start with very little and accumulate lots? Or those who start with a lot and lose it?
Maybe it has something to do with how many different, and possibly conflicting, beliefs you might happen to hold at any one time.
One of my favorite clichés goes something like: "nothing is true except that thinking makes it so."
So imagine holding a handful of these at the same time: money is the root of evil (you won't catch me being evil), the camel and needle story (hey, I want to be spiritual), takes money to make money (and I have none), and the best things in life are free. Take just these four and you can imagine how hard it might be to make or have money.
What if: even though some part of you may want more money, if you hold other, conflicting beliefs, you may wind up blocking your own ability to make choices that would lead to an improved monetary condition.
Now, we are not saying you should be looking to have more money. As already noted, my suggestion is that getting clear on the experiences you would like to have in life is far more important than focusing on the symbols side of the equation.
However, if you are going to live life here in this physical world, you may find it useful to have a bit more of the material world around as you go through producing the experiences you truly seek. Hence, it might make sense to examine your inner beliefs from the point of view of possible conflict or self-sabotage.
Between "clothes on the back, shoes on the feet, food on the table" (see last week's post on beliefs) and the various biblical misinterpretations I grew up with, it is not surprising that I lived for so long without being able to accumulate much in the way of wealth.
Next week we will examine how conflicting beliefs can derail just about any endeavor in life, not just money.
I'd love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.
If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.
Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at www.RussellBishop.com. You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.