I grew up with a keen awareness of what we could not afford. This was exacerbated by living a lower-middle-class life in Canada’s highest-per-capita income city and also by the fact that my two best friends during my formative years were in decidedly different socio-economic demographics (not that it was ever, not even once, flaunted).
The kinds of holidays, the size of homes, the clothing, the bedroom decor, even the refrigerator contents – I knew what we could not afford. Most of the time it didn’t bother me, at least not consciously. But still, I knew. And over time, and combined with some other life circumstances, I developed what I’d call a poverty mindset. A poverty mindset is one whose default is “only just enough, if that”. It is one that is quietly (or not) suspicious of wealth and wealthy people. It is one that either desperately pays attention to managing money, or avoids it altogether.
A poverty mindset kills the joy and good energy around money.
Long ago, I loosened this stranglehold mindset, and now money, and my mindset around it, means something entirely different. Night and day different. I’ll post about my new mindset later, but in the meantime,
Here are two techniques that helped me break out of that mindset. You can do it too, and you can help your kids do it.
1. Replace “I can’t afford it” with “How can I afford it?”
Do you feel the difference? The former stifles all possibility. The latter opens up possibility and invites creative response. It creates options.
Bonus: this one is a great one to use with kids and helps them inculcate a mindset of financial possibility from the get-go. Next time they ask for something, ask them to come up with ideas on how they can afford it (emphasis: how they can afford it).
2. Cool visualization exercise – the dissolving flower / cloud
If you suffer a poverty mindset, there are probably a number of unhelpful beliefs and feelings towards money riddled throughout your mind and heart-of-hearts. These will be influencing all your approaches to money. Here’s what to do with them.
a. Sit somewhere quietly, close your eyes, and take a few deep, full breaths to centre and focus yourself.
b. Visualize either a flower with many petals or a cloud floating in front of you.
c. Let each unhelpful belief come to the surface of your mind, then take that particular belief and place it on a petal or the cloud.
c. Do this for as long as the various beliefs or thoughts arise, each time placing it on the petal or cloud.
d. Then allow that flower or cloud to float away from you further and further into space and (important) as it floats away, visualize it dissolving. The petals gently separate from the flower. And then each petal and the core begins to simply, softly dissolve into nothing as it continues to float away into infinite space. I you visualize the cloud, imagine it gently pulling apart from itself into smaller and smaller drifts as it moves further and further away. Each flower or cloud becomes nothing.
e. Re-emerge to your day, open your eyes, take a deep breath and experience the lightness and freedom after the release that will have occurred.
Do this exercise as often as you need to. And if you embrace these exercises, I’d love to hear how they play out for you, so pop back and leave a comment.
PS – if you want to start managing your day-to-day money effectively, my online program will give you a solid foundation. Even if things are a bit tight for you right now, it will help! And it’s affordable for just about anyone, at $25.
update: for a recap of all Sept Money 101 posts, click here
Photo Credit: lalunablanca