Our mindsets affect how we see and interact with the world. Likewise, the way we see money plays a big part in how we end up managing our finances and plan for the future.
For better or for worse, money will always be a part of our lives but many of us have pre-programmed mindsets that aren’t healthy for us. We can all take some steps to actively change how we view and interact with money.
Our brains work a little like a feedback loop. How we think about certain issues can influence our habits and this in turn influences our thinking all over again. Naturally, this loop can make it harder for us to make changes in our behaviours and our lives.
The good news is that this loop can be interrupted through intentionally deciding to change our mindsets. The not-so-good news is that it’ll take a little bit of work and patience to see the effects of the change but I assure you, it’s worth it.
Start by recognising the role of money in our lives. Money is not the answer to everything although it might seem like it. Money is a tool that can help you live out a meaningful and impactful life but it is not the master of your life. You are. You have to recognise this or you will constantly feel like money is controlling you and has a hold on you.
Thinking that money is your master can cause a lot of anxiety and produce negative chemical and even physical reactions in your body. Reminding yourself of the relationship with money that you want to have is a crucial starting point.
Your thoughts create self-fulfilling prophesies
It’s easy to entertain thoughts like “I will always be short of money”, “I’m someone who can’t save well”, or “my bank account will always be low”. These self-limiting thoughts are not setting you up for success and they are more powerful than you may realise.
Such thoughts actually cause us to internalise these limitations as an unchangeable part of our identity. The result? We end up never changing.
Here’s the thing, the thoughts we keep playing in our minds become structurally stronger in our brains. They actually physically increase in strength which means our brains will naturally lean towards thinking those thoughts more. It starts to become an automatic response.
Instead of letting these negative thoughts take over your mind, you can choose to shift your mind to focus on more positive thoughts that you want to strengthen.
Don’t let negative thoughts take over your mind.
Dr Caroline Leaf, a seasoned neuroscientist, author and speaker offers some great advice about this. She advises us to be aware of our thoughts and avoid allowing every thought to run through our minds unchecked.
In fact, she suggests to catch our thoughts, analyze them, write them out and have a truth that we want to hold onto instead. A truth that you can believe like, “I may not have enough now but I can slowly take some steps to changing this”.
Allow positive thoughts to strengthen and take up a bigger space in your mind
You can even start right now by writing down some of the thoughts that you allow to run wild, and then write down the healthy thoughts you want to have about money instead.
When you find yourself leaning towards negative thoughts around money next time, remind yourself of these positive thoughts you want to hold on to. Allow these positive thoughts to strengthen and take up a bigger space in your mind than the negative thoughts.
Most of us are also used to having a poverty mindset where we think that since we don’t have enough money, we never will. We sometimes even get stuck in a cycle of ruminating and focusing on all that we don’t have or will never have.
Another way to counter a poverty mindset, is to be thankful for what little you do have. Gratitude can go a long way in helping you to realise that while your life may not be perfect right (and is probably far from it), there are many things to celebrate right here, right now.
As Dr Caroline Leaf assures us, it is scientifically proven that simply thinking we are capable of change, causes us to be able to change. So give yourself a chance to evolve the way you think about money, because you can.
It might be tempting to project the trajectory of your life based on your past experience but why live under those self imposed limits that aren’t true?
Allow yourself to evolve in your relationship with money and recognise the possibility that the present is beautiful and as you take some small practical steps, you can build a better future for yourself, starting in your mind.
Editor’s note: Now that you know how to manage your thoughts, don’t forget to take it to the next level and cooperate with your brain to achieve your financial goals.