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From Resentment to Riches: The Keys to Transforming Your Relationship With Money
BY PAUL MCKENNA, Ph.D.
photo: michal lomza
Transforming Your Relationship with Money
Money is one of the most emotional subjects on the planet. In fact, many people feel more comfortable sharing the intimate details of their sex lives with friends than sharing the intimate details of their finances. Yet the purpose of money is simply to allow the smooth exchange of goods and services. So why is it that so many people have an emotional relationship with money? And what is it that gives money its emotional power? One answer is that we do. And one way we do it is by giving those pieces of metal or paper, or even numbers on a piece of paper, meaning.
Sometimes we do this literally, as in “This paycheck = my phone bill” or “This $5 bill = lunch,” so if we lose the $5 bill, in our minds, we’ve just lost our lunch. Often, the meaning is even more metaphoric. “Money is freedom of choice” or “Money is love made visible” or even “Money is the root of all evil.” Here’s why this is so important: Whatever meaning you are attaching to money is either drawing it closer or pushing it away.
Trying to live a rich, wealthy life when you have a poor relationship with money is like trying to drive a car with one foot on the accelerator and the other one on the brakes. You may occasionally make some progress, but in the end no matter how hard you try you never seem to really get anywhere. So in order to begin letting go of all the things you’ve been attributing to money that make it more difficult to have, we’ll take a closer look at where all these money beliefs and ideas came from in the first place.
Let’s begin a few thousand years ago when conch shells were exchanged in a primitive form of barter. People literally “shelled out” in exchange for food or labor. Then, in the mines of Mesopotamia, workers were paid in salt, or “salarium,” which they could then exchange for goods and services. This is the origin of the idea of working for a “salary.” But as trade became more and more complex, the use of commodities like shells and salt was replaced by the use of precious metals. And once trade became more centralized, the direct exchange of precious metals was replaced by the use of IOUs.
Coins were the first officially sanctioned IOUs, followed fairly quickly by pieces of paper that could be exchanged for precious metal. In fact, the British pound got its name because, until a few hundred years ago, it could be exchanged for a pound-weight of sterling silver. In the late 19th century, an international system was set up called “the gold standard” that allowed for a universal and stable unit of valuation.
Finally, in the 1940s, the governments of the world decided to abandon the gold standard system. Promises of exchange were replaced by articles of faith—the marketplace’s faith that the government that printed it will continue to back it, with or without reserves of gold. In this sense, money no longer has any inherent or intrinsic value. The value of money, whether in the form of euro, yen, dollar, or pound, is now based entirely on the value we and others place upon it.
So what is money really? It’s whatever we make it up to be.
The Meaning of Money
1. Complete these 12 sentences about money, wealth, and riches to uncover the key elements of your current unconscious programming and your relationship with money.
+ People with money are…
+ Money makes people…
+ I’d have more money if…
+ My parents always thought money would…
+ Money causes…
+ I’m afraid that if I had more money I would…
+ Money is…
+ In order to have more money, I would need to…
+ I think money…
+ If I were really rich, I would…
+ My biggest fear about money…
+ Money is…
2. Circle any of your unconscious money beliefs that might be holding you back, even if they seem unquestionably “true” to you.
3. Repeat this exercise daily for at least the next week. You may find some of the deeper programs take a bit longer to come up to the surface.
4. What did you discover? Are your beliefs and associations with money those of someone who is programmed for poverty or for riches?
By heightening our awareness of our beliefs about money, we can begin to make sense of many of our emotions and behaviors when dealing with it, and by changing them, we can transform the emotional impact of money in our lives. After all, would you rather work half your life for freedom of choice or for the root of all evil?
Here are some of the most common beliefs people hold that keep them from creating an abundance of money in their lives:
Money corrupts. There is an inherent mistrust of wealth in our society, most of it based on the underlying assumption that money corrupts. But the reality is, money doesn’t corrupt—it reveals. Many wonderful people are doing amazingly positive things with their money. Why not you?
There is not enough money to go around. Money is not a zero-sum game—it’s an infinite game, and the more people who are playing it, the more money there is to go around. Provided you are spending money and not just hoarding it, the more money you make, the more money will be circulating in the system. In this sense, the richer you become, the richer you will be making others.
I don’t want to make money because I’m scared that I will lose it. That makes about as much sense as saying I don’t want to eat a nice meal because I’m scared that I’ll have to flush it down the toilet later. The purpose of money isn’t to keep it forever, it’s to use it. And once you learn the secrets of making money, which I will share with you in the second part of my book, I Can Make You Rich you’ll realize that as long as you have the capacity to think, you have the ability to make more money.
In order to question some of your own limiting beliefs about money and restore a healthier relationship with money, do this simple exercise adapted from Patricia Remele’s book, Money Freedom. It’s based on the idea that when you take away all of our culturally imposed beliefs about what it should and shouldn’t be, money is simply a tool we can use to make our lives easier and reach our goals faster. Therefore, what is true about money must be true about other tools as well…
The Shovel Exercise
1. Make a list of the most negative-seeming money beliefs you uncovered in the previous exercise.
2. Substitute the word “shovel” (another practical tool) for “money” in each of the sentences on your list. Notice whether the statements still make sense or have any emotional significance.
+ “The love of shovels is the root of all evil.”
+ “Shovels don’t grow on trees.”
+ “I feel guilty because I have more shovels than my father ever did.”
Remember, the idea here is to simply take away the emotional “sting” from these ideas—it doesn’t matter whether or not you really believe them.
Where Do All These Ideas about Money Come From?
When we are born, our mind is a clean slate. There are certain things our bodies are genetically programmed to be able to do almost from birth—the basics of movement, communication, and self-healing. However, when it comes to what we choose to believe about the world, our minds are up for grabs.
Before the age of seven, a child doesn’t know enough to be able to rely on their own judgment and reasoning. Their critical faculties are undeveloped. A critical faculty is the ability to question, judge, analyze, criticize, and, very importantly, compare.
It is because children haven’t developed this critical faculty that they can believe in Father Christmas and fairies as easily as they believe in geometry and money. Until we take control of our own minds, our beliefs about the world and ourselves come from the continual messages that we receive in the first few years of our lives. What we are told again and again, particularly at moments of emotional intensity, has the most powerful effect upon us. In fact, anything that is said at a moment of emotional intensity has the power of a hypnotic suggestion.
If you believe you have to work hard to make money, you will only look for jobs that involve a lot of effort. If you believe that everyone is out to rip you off, you will unconsciously find people who will do that. If you believe that you deserve great wealth, then your mind will look for opportunities that create that.
This is one of the reasons why hypnosis is such a powerful tool for changing your life and your relationship with money. It allows you to get right to the part of your brain where the old programs are stored and literally reprogram your mind for riches.
Ending Financial Self-Sabotage
Most of us have inherited a mixed bag of some positive and some negative beliefs about what having more money in our lives would mean. These money beliefs in turn affect how much money we will allow ourselves to have.
For example, how do you react when you read these statements?
+ I deserve money.
+ Money can come to me easily.
+ There’s more than enough to go around.
+ It’s okay for me to be rich.
If they feel comfortable to you as you read them—as obvious and true as saying “the sky is blue”—chances are you are already living a fairly rich life and a positive relationship with money. If they feel uncomfortable, untrue, or even unforgivable, you’ve just uncovered one of the real blocks to a lifetime of wealth and freedom.
In contrast to the above statements, what were you told as a child about money? Many of my clients answer with things like this:
+ You’ll never amount to anything.
+ Shame on you—why can’t you get anything right?
+ It’s a good thing you’re beautiful, because you aren’t smart enough to make it on your own.
There is a long list of negative money beliefs and stories people use to keep themselves away from wealth. Maybe you’ve thought that if you became rich you’d change as a person, or you’d become a target, or you would lose your friends. Perhaps you’ve been telling yourself that you won’t be able to handle the pressure, or that you don’t really care that much about money anyway.
Many people have been taught things like: “The Bible says money is the root of all evil.” What the Bible actually says is: “The love of money [or, according to some scholars, ‘lust for money’] is the root of all evil”—that is, the pursuit of money for its own sake, as a commodity to be hoarded.
Here’s the key: Whatever negative story about wealth you have told yourself in the past, it’s time to let it go.
There’s a saying in the world of computer programming: Garbage in = Garbage out. Your mind is like a computer, but it’s only as useful as the programs it’s running. And those programs are made up of your most frequent thoughts and most tightly held beliefs. This is why it is so important to let go of any unconscious money beliefs and ideas you may still be carrying from your childhood about why money is bad or that you’re not good enough to have it.
The unconscious mind is not logical. It doesn’t stop and think about what you want or what’s best for you and your relationship with money. It just does whatever it’s been programmed to do. In fact, your mind will not allow you to deviate from the programs you hold in your unconscious. It will do whatever it takes to prove these unconscious programs about money to be true.
Over the years, I have worked with many clients who have what they refer to as a “self-sabotage” mechanism. Whenever things are going well for them, it seems as though they manage to screw it up. This is always caused by beliefs in the unconscious mind that will not allow them to succeed. All I do is have them reprogram the limiting beliefs and suddenly their life dramatically changes for the better.
For example, I have a friend who was good at creating money, but somehow would always sabotage his efforts to create lasting wealth by finding ways to get rid of his money almost as quickly as he made it. His relationship to money and behavior around money didn’t seem to make any sense until one day he told me of a childhood experience where he had said to his mother that when he grew up, he wanted to be rich. His mother had replied, “Why do you want to do that? Rich people get heart attacks!”
No wonder he couldn’t hang on to his money—in his unconscious mind, having a lot of money equaled death! Remember, the unconscious mind is not logical, it’s purposeful—and its number one purpose is survival. Although he hadn’t been conscious of it until that moment, this unsupportive and false money belief had been installed at an impressionable age. As soon as he made any money, his unconscious mind worked at getting rid of it “to keep him alive.”
After just 20 minutes of reprogramming, his unconscious fear of getting a heart attack from having too much money had gone. Within a few months his business went into overdrive, and just over a year later he had created a brand new career for himself and was living the life of his dreams.
Just becoming conscious of your old programs around money is often enough to take away their power and bring about a happier relationship with money.
Undoing Cultural Hypnosis
One of the tabloid newspapers recently ran a series of articles entitled “So Rich You Want to Slap Them.” This certainly mirrors the views of a proportion of the population who are angry with the people who have mastered the art of creating money. We are continually told that “there is only a finite amount of wealth” and that “the more we have, the less there will be for others.” It’s common in our culture to hear terms such as “filthy rich” or “fat cat,” which are indicative of an underlying mistrust of people with money.
This sort of cultural hypnosis creates one of the largest blocks people have about making money and living rich—who they think they’ll have to become and what they think they’ll have to give up in order to get it. Some people believe they will have to sacrifice their time, or their health, or even their family to the cause of “making money at all costs.” Yet when we broaden our definition of rich from “having a lot of money” to “living life on our own terms,” those sacrifices can all be seen to be unrealistic.
If you had no time, you wouldn’t be rich no matter how much money you had. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything—all the money in the world can’t buy you another minute of life. And if you give up the love of your family for a few dollars more, your life will only become poorer.
There is, however, one sacrifice you will need to make to strengthen your relationship with money—you will need to give up your resentment of people who have more money than you!
When I began on my own journey to wealth, I believed (among other things) that:
+ The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
+ If I win, others must lose.
+ In order for someone to make a lot of money, they have to screw other people over.
You may be holding some similar money beliefs for yourself, but here’s the simple truth: If you dislike people with money, it will be difficult to become one of them.
Once I became aware of how much I resented people with money, I became aware of how much that resentment was holding me back in my own pursuit of wealth. I knew I had to change the pattern—to reprogram my automatic, unconscious reaction to people who have money. Even if I didn’t like what I thought they had done to get their money, I realized that the only person I was hurting with my resentment was myself. As the saying goes, hanging onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die!
At first, I used a simple system of substitution. Anytime I noticed myself grumbling inside my head at the success or wealth of someone else, I would immediately replace that thought with a positive one wishing that person well. It felt strange at first, but each time I did it, I noticed I felt a little bit better inside myself.
Then, I learned a technique that enabled me to make even more dramatic changes more quickly. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t want (i.e. “to be like them”), it focused my mind on what I did want—to make money and live rich in an ethical and enjoyable way. Here is what I learned, exactly the way that I practice it to this day…
From Resentment to Riches
Be sure to read through all the instructions before you begin…
1. Think about someone whose success or wealth you have been resenting. Create an image in your mind of what they look like. What color is their hair? What clothes are they wearing? What expression do they have on their face?
2. Now, think about yourself being exactly the way you most want to be—living life on your own terms with the financial assets to do what you really want to be doing. How do you stand, smile, and speak? How happy and confident do you look?
3. Shrink down that picture of your rich self so that it fits in one small corner of the picture of the person you have been resenting.
4. Now, switch the pictures as fast as you can! As the picture of the person you have been resenting shrinks down into the corner, expand the picture of your rich self until it fills the screen. Make sure the expanded picture of your rich self is big, bright, and bold!
5. Take a moment to clear your mind, then repeat the process at least five times. Make the switch faster and faster each time you do it.
Several years ago, there was a study conducted into happiness and comparative wealth, which was quite revealing. Participants were asked to choose between two scenarios. In the first, they were to be paid $90,000 and their friends and colleagues would all be paid $80,000; in the second, they would receive $100,000 but their friends and colleagues would receive $110,000.
What do you suppose people chose? If you guessed that they opted for more money, you’d be wrong—an overwhelming majority said they would prefer to have less money as long as it was more than everyone else!
This is poor thinking in its most insidious form—using money as a measure of personal value, status, or worth—and sabotages a pleasant relationship with money. In contrast, rich thinkers don’t use their money to make themselves feel better—they use it to make themselves a richer life.
The more comfortable you become around every person’s capacity to make a contribution and create wealth, the easier it becomes for you to do the same. This is one of the absolute keys to rich thinking: The more comfortable you become with the wealth of others, the faster your own wealth will grow.
Here’s one last exercise you can do that will make it easier for you to release any residual negativity around money and become instantly richer in your thinking and actions…
Creating a Richer World
1. Think about someone you believe is struggling financially and imagine them wealthy and successful.
2. Think about someone you believe is already doing well and imagine them becoming even more wealthy and successful.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with as many different people as you like until you feel “clean”—no pity and no resentment.
4. Imagine what the world would be like if there was no poverty and everyone had more than enough to live life on their own terms. How do you feel about living in that world? How do you feel about yourself?
The more often you repeat this exercise, the faster your relationship with money will change and the faster your wealth will grow.
This piece is excerpted with permission from I Can Make You Rich by Dr. Paul McKenna. It is published by Hay House and available in bookstores and online at hayhouse.com. The book includes an audio download which works with the unconscious mind book to reprogram your money beliefs and change your thinking and behavior around money for good.
About The Author
Paul McKenna, Ph.D. has consistently astounded his audiences and clients by proving how small changes in people’s lives can yield huge results, whether it’s curing someone of a lifelong phobia or clearing up deep-seated issues in a matter of minutes. He currently hosts his own TV show on Hulu, where he interviews the most interesting people in the world. His guests include Simon Cowell, Harvey Weinstein, Rachael Ray, Sir Roger Moore, Roger Daltrey, Tony Robbins, Paul Oakenfold and Sir Ken Robinson. Visit his website: paulmckenna.com
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