To succeed financially, we must be clear about what having money means to us personally. That may sound simplistic, but most of us have deeply conflicting ideas about money. We are raised with diametrically opposed yet equally persuasive ideas about it – and our ambivalence often paralyzes us.
Self-help gurus on television proclaim money is a symbol of spiritual abundance. The next channel over, multi-millionaires are being packed off to prison.
Complicating things even further, we are constantly bombarded with manipulative advertising that mixes our noblest aspirations with our basest instincts. If you want love, you need to buy this. If you care about your children’s health, you have to have that.
No matter how sane and intelligent you are, society’s mixed messages about money can be crazy-making.
If, like the majority of people, you struggle to get by financially, assertions that money is a symbol may simultaneously ring true and sound like so much hoity-toity nonsense. The gurus making such claims may be sincere and what they say might have a ring of truth – but aren’t they making millions from their books and DVDs? While they have the luxury of waxing poetic about the deeper meaning of profit, you see nothing esoteric about your paycheck. Your mortgage is no metaphor; your struggles to support your family aren’t similes.
“Money can’t buy happiness.” Well, of course it can’t – but it sure buys food and shelter and clothing and transportation and health care and all the other essentials of modern life. Without those essentials, where is the possibility of happiness?
“Do what you love.” “Follow your bliss.” “Pursue your passion.” You’ve heard it all before. Maybe you’ve made a few attempts to rise above the rat race by attempting to live by such principles. But the bills kept coming, the kids continued growing out of their clothes and the refrigerator didn’t refill itself. You had no choice but to delay your dreams and deal with cold, hard economic reality.
When and if you’re able to save enough money to keep your head above water, you’ll spend more time on spiritual matters. You simply don’t have time right now.
This attitude – common though it is – often leads to a cynicism that negates the possibility of spiritual growth and true abundance.
Conflicted attitudes about money lead to self-sabotage. No matter how desperately we may want to end the day-to-day struggles created by financial want, class envy and righteous indignation about economic injustice inevitably warp our vision of financial success.
If you become rich, will your poor or middle-class friends and family mistrust you as much as you now mistrust the rich? Will you spend the rest of your life in the exclusive company of other rich people – people that, at some level, you suspect are inherently bad?
There are many programs and plans of action available if you want to make money. But before any of them can help you succeed, it may be necessary to bring your vaguely defined apprehensions out in the open, clarify them and transform them into a constructive ideology.
Out With The Negative
You’ve read and heard stories about rich people who have done admirable, praiseworthy things – but are they the first people who come to mind when you think of the economic elite?
Sit down with a pen and paper and write down the wealthy people who do come to mind. There may be some on the list you regard as heroes, but many of them are likely to fall into the “villain” category. And even your financial heroes may have flaws that taint your perception of them – if only slightly.
The purpose of this exercise is to purge yourself of every negative thought you have about wealth. These are the thoughts that will keep you stuck. Many of them may be so deeply ingrained you’re not even aware of them. You must bring them to light.
Think about the last news story you read or saw on TV involving a corrupt businessperson. Think of movies you’ve seen or novels you’ve read in which a rich person or wealthy institution was the villain. Record whatever feelings you have in connection with these stories.
Get angry. Vent your most vitriolic thoughts and feelings. When you have exhausted this rant, flip to a separate sheet of paper and write your own name.
In With The Positive
While your negative feelings about wealth are still roiling in you, look at your name – your full name – in black and white. Think about what your name means to you. Think about what you want it to mean to others.
Words like “corrupt” or “evil” may still be echoing through your mind from the rich people rant. Do you want to transfer those words to the page with your name on it?
No, the words you want will probably be the exact opposite – words like “honest” and “good.” Write them down.
Now think about positive things you have accomplished with your money. If you have kids and your money has gone toward keeping them in food and shelter and clothing, record this fact. Think about what your kids mean to you and what you believe they contribute to the world. Put those thoughts on paper as well.
If you have spent money to bring joy or lend support to another person – however large or small your contribution may have been – write down that act of generosity. Christmas and birthday gifts count. Spell out your feelings about the people who have received these gifts and what you hoped to communicate by giving to them.
If you are entirely self-supporting, write about what that means to you. If you receive financial help, record your gratitude to the person, people or organization providing assistance.
It’s your name at the top of this page. Think about the ways money supports who you truly are or truly want to be.
Set the page with your name at the top beside your bed or in a drawer of your desk – somewhere you can easily get to it every day. Look at it daily. If you think of other positive things you’ve done with money, add those things to the page – you might accumulate numerous pages. But if nothing else occurs to you, just re-read what you’ve already written.
You don’t need to dwell on it or build meditations around it. A simple one-minute, daily scan will suffice.
The regular repetition will serve to cut through the conflicting attitudes you’ve acquired about wealth. By doing this, you will be preparing yourself for success using whatever method of building wealth you might choose.
Small acts can bring about revolutionary changes in our thoughts and attitudes. If you want to remove your unconscious barriers to wealth, take a few moments each day to remind yourself that money has already had a positive influence on your life and the lives of those you love.
It’s easy to comprehend that money can mean whatever you want it to mean. The trick is to remember that fact – and to believe it deeply, down in your soul.
It will look like this: Right Goals – Wrong Attitude