Why do we keep making the same bad money decisions? We set a goal, take all the right actions and then in a flash we do something to sabotage all the good we were achieving. It sometimes feels like some sort of higher power is out to stop us getting out of our money rut.
The truth is there is a higher power, our subconscious, and it is sabotaging us by the unconscious money lies it has playing on repeat in our head.
Dr Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who has done extensive studies of why we do the financial things we do, has coined these our “Money Scripts”.
What are these Money Scripts?
Money Scripts are the unconscious beliefs we have about money that we developed growing up. They may have stuck because we were constantly exposed to the same money story. Our parents consistently told us money didn’t grow on trees, that the wealthy are selfish unlikeable people, or we didn’t “deserve” our allowance. Alternatively we got the money idea from a traumatic experience around money. As our brain tested whether the story we created around this experience was “true” it sought out corroborating evidence and of course found it, and that money story then became a firm belief.
There are 4 distinct money scripts identified by Dr Klontz:
- Good people shouldn’t want money or it shouldn’t be about the money
If this is the story you have running in your head, your subconscious motivation will be to avoid money. You may have a deep held belief that money is bad. If this is your Money Script you may have caught yourself saying something along the lines of “the rich are greedy”, “money isn’t spiritual” or “money is the root of evil”.
Your subconscious mission will be to keep money out of your life.
- Money will solve all my problems
To you, money is the key to your happiness, and you just know that if you had a lot more of it you would have the perfect life.
The irony is that receiving a money windfall is likely to cause a world of drama and stress for you. For a start this is not your comfort zone, and as uncomfortable as your comfort zone is it is where you feel things are familiar, it is where you fit in. The first thing the windfall is going to throw up for your subconscious is the fear you won’t fit in with your tribe anymore. Will they accept this new you? And the second thing is an identity crisis, who is this rich new you?
The truth is, the belief that money will solve all your problems is comforting, there is a solution to your problems. But if that solution were to materialise and come with a new set of problems, your subconscious would fight to get you back to the familiar as fast as it could.
- Net worth determines self worth
A personal favourite. The “keeping up with the Jones” script. And if you cannot keep up with them you sure better look like you do. Often this is the path to financial ruin.
Money is so intricately woven into our emotions that it is hard to separate it out from our deepest darkest perceived shortcomings. We are constantly bombarded with advertising skilfully directed to target how having the latest technology will make us look smarter, the expensive car with make us more attractive and how we haven’t socially arrived until we wear a trillion dollar watch or shop at Billionaires R Us.
For those of us running this script, daily life is a minefield of trigger points!
- I am going to lose my money
This is not in itself a bad script as it does lead to a higher degree of money vigilance and saving. However when it operates from a bigger belief that money is scarce and easily slips away, we fight to keep money safe and hold it close. We stop the money flow and it lies stagnant, suffocating under the weight of our fears. Our greatest fear is manifested every day as the money slowly loses its value to inflation.
An important point to note, our money scripts were created to help us make sense of the world and keep us safe. They originated from a positive perspective and through no fault of our own. We are not wrong following the script, however while the script may have made sense to us at the point in time and in the context in which it was created, it was an incomplete childish understanding of the situation and very likely no longer serves us and has in fact become the saboteur of our financial potential. It’s time we shine a light on these money beliefs, expose them for the scared child they are and replace them with more supportive, empowering beliefs.
How do you identify and replace subconscious beliefs?
Money Scripts are not cast in stone and once uncovered we can go about rebuilding them into our mental allies for financial prosperity. The old money scripts however have been working in the background of our minds for so many years that they have created deeply set beliefs. This means we are going to have to put in some solid work and time to recreate them. Have patience with yourself and realise building prosperity is the journey of a lifetime.
The good news to all of this is that positive money beliefs have a direct link to creating positive financial outcomes. The first step in resolving these money beliefs is to try and identify where they come from.
Spend some time thinking about your money history:
- What was your first memory of money?
- Was it a positive or negative experience?
- What did your mother teach you about money?
- What did your father teach you about money?
- What is your most painful money memory?
- How did it make you feel when you experienced it?
- How does it make you feel now when you remember it?
- Did any of these experiences shape your thoughts around money?
Start being more vigilant around your money talk. Notice when your talk may reflect a disempowering money belief. Once you have identified your limiting money beliefs you can get to work replacing them with a more positive, growth mind set.
And remember research has shown that changing our financial prosperity depends 20% on the actions we take and 80% on having a positive mindset. Your wealth is right there in your head!