You’re the problem.
Hang on, I’m not trying to pick a fight. I’m trying to wake you up.
You’re the reason you’re stuck in a bad situation with your money. You’re the reason you’re business isn’t taking off the way you wish it would.
You’re the reason your budget is failing over and over. You’re the reason you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
But you’re the solution as well.
What’s A Limiting Belief
A limiting belief is an idea, conscious or subconscious, that limits or holds you back in one or more aspects of your life.
Oh, and these beliefs aren’t real. They’re false or imaginary beliefs.
Limiting beliefs are often subconscious. So it’s important to mention that you might not even know that you have them.
It’s also likely that you’ve lived with your limiting beliefs for a very long time. Because of this, they shape your entire reality.
My major in college was sociology and I want to use that to some extent in my writing since I love sociology. There’s a famous sociologist named Robert K. Merton who came up with the term self-fulfilling prophecy.
Ever heard of those?
It’s the concept that an idea or belief can affect how something plays out. It doesn’t even matter if the idea of belief is true or not.
The word prophecy means a prediction of what will happen in the future. It stands to reason that self-fulfilling prophecies are your predictions of how your own future will turn out. Made by yourself.
Limiting beliefs shape the way you view your reality and how you act because of that.
It’s a bit cheesy and you’ve heard it a million times that you’re the master of your own world. The way your limiting beliefs affect your thoughts, affect how you see the world around. This affect how you emotionally respond to those thoughts.
Put that together with the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy and, voila, you’ve created a prison for your own progress.
How Limiting Beliefs Affect Your Life and Finances
There are many, many, different limiting beliefs about money. One of the most commonly used beliefs that I hear repeated over and over is “Money doesn’t grow on trees!”.
Let’s look at a few other beliefs about money. Have you ever said any of them or a similar version?
- I can’t handle my money.
- Having money will make me a worse person.
- Rich people are evil.
- Someone’s riches come at the expense of another person’s.
- The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
- More money means more worries (or stress).
Does any of those sound familiar? I’ll address a few below and why they are like shackles in your mind.
Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
Sure, money doesn’t grow on trees, in a literal sense.That much is true. But it’s the thinking of someone with a scarcity mindset.
Money is scarce in the world of people who use this saying. If we think like that, we’re telling our brain that it’s true. Money becomes scarce and hard to come by.
We likely end up feeling like we have to save as much as we can and not waste more than we need to. Because, you know, we never know when we’re going to get more of those money-things.
Even though we save, there’s just never enough money either. A scarcity mindset like this will limit a person’s ability to get rich. They will be blind to the opportunities to make money that appear in your daily life.
You know that money is everywhere right?
I’d say that Someone’s riches come at the expense of another person’s is a similar way of thinking.
That statement means that there’s a limited amount of money in the world. In order for us to get rich, someone else needs to get poor. If you’re feeling poor or lacking, you’ll always blame someone else for being rich then.
Seems like a healthy way to live.
Oh yeah, worth mentioning is that the opposite of a scarcity mindset is an abundance mindset. That’s what you’re after. Not only when it comes to money, but in all parts of your life.
More Money Means More Worries
I used to believe a variation of this myself, combined with a variation of that Rich People Are Evil.
I didn’t think rich people were evil. I thought money made you shallow.
People who use this mindset might use it as a reason to not save and amass wealth. A belief like this will likely make them sabotage any attempt at saving or investing money.
To contextualize I’ll tell a story about my own experience. When I was young I got a small windfall, around $10 000. I was 18.
When you’re 18 though, $10 000 is a heck of a lot of money. I felt rich. That was the problem.
I didn’t know many rich people growing up. The ones I knew who were rich were shallow. They were also unhappy in one way or another.
For me to avoid getting more worries in my life or becoming shallow, I had to get rid of the money. The way to do this was to party a lot. At least I was generous and treated my friends.
I can only guess where this kind of belief comes from and for some people money might mean worries. But I think that depends on how you get the money in the first place.
Blame your parents
My mother wasn’t very rich. When we asked for money in our family we often heard a version of the scarcity mindset. In our family, it was often something like “I don’t have a lake full of money, you know…”
Did I ever picture that lake, you think?
Perhaps that’s what saved me from developing this kind of scarcity mindset myself. Because I saw that lake full of money so clear. Anyway, I digress.
You probably figured out where I’m heading with this already though. Often it’s our parents who use these “words of wisdom” to teach us about how the world works.
As kids, we don’t know better and we trust our parents to protect us from and teach us about the world we live in. They teach us basic things we need, like how to eat properly, to be polite and say thanks, to tie our shoes, and so on.
They also teach us more abstract things like love, belonging, and security. All these things are part of the socialization process. It’s required for us to develop into human beings who function in this world.
More subtle is the way they also teach us their own beliefs about money. If your parents continually tell you that money doesn’t grow on trees, well, guess what, you’ll start believing it.
You’ll start thinking that money is tough to come by. You’ll develop a scarcity mindset from a young age. If you don’t work on getting rid of that, it’ll probably stick with you for a long time too.
Guess what else? That kind of mindset doesn’t only affect your life when it comes to money.
This mindset affects time, love, friends, and anything else you can think of in terms of scarcity.
As you can see, a well-meaning phrase that’s intended to impose on you the collected wisdom of your parent’s life might end up ruining yours.
But they don’t do that because they want to hurt you. They do it because they love you. They do it because they think it’s good for you to know that they had to work hard for their money.
And so should you.
Your parent’s limiting beliefs shaped their reality to be true. As a person, you look for confirmation of your beliefs. If your belief is that money is scarce, your mind finds ways to make that true.
Since this belief was true and even confirmed, for your parents, it’s good knowledge to pass down to their kids.
Unfortunately, it’s all wrong.
We blame our parents for everything from bad hairlines to bad teeth. Now they are also going to be responsible for our limiting beliefs too.
Life’s harsh for parents.
It would be easy to pin it all on your peeps, but it’s a simplification.
Yes, they are responsible for planting the seed and watering it. But for it to really start growing into a strong and vital blossom of bad ideas, we need another layer.
That layer is society.
In The Eyes of Others
In sociology, you have a saying that goes something like “there’s no me without them”.
Simplified this means that our identity develops through how other people see us and confirm us. Deep stuff, huh?
If you grow up in a family where a scarcity mindset is present when it comes to money. Then we can assume it’s there since you don’t enjoy a whole lot of money in your family.
Let’s assume you will spend your early life with children who come from similar backgrounds.
That’ll mean that you won’t encounter many kids in your bunch of friends who run around thinking that they actually have a lake of money. Or that money grows on trees.
They all subscribe to similar limiting belief as you.
The first time you say that you can’t afford to go to the movies, because, you know, money doesn’t grow on trees, they will all lower their heads, nod, and agree. Because it’s as true for them as it is for you.
You got your beliefs confirmed and now, you have a beautiful rose growing in your garden of limitations. This particular one has dollar signs on it.
Next to it is the budding “I can never get ahead in life”-lily. It’s waiting for a confirming shot of nutrition from your peers too.
I’ve simplified this, but the idea is that if we have our core ideas and beliefs confirmed by our like-minded peers, they will take hold. Once they do, they are hard to change.
Never impossible to change though, mind you.
I want to mention that these are not the only ways that limiting beliefs can develop. You can develop them all by yourself. Try and fail a few times with something and you’ll see.
Since I’m all about personal finances, let’s take an example from that field.
Budgets are all the hype these days, right? You’ve tried to budget a few times. Done all the steps, but you can’t get it to work. You’re not stupid. It’s not hard. The fact is that you don’t invest the time needed to do it every week.
Failing to see that though, you begin to develop this idea that budgets are stupid because they limit your freedom. You’re a free spirit and it’s not your thing.
So you tell your friends that budgets don’t work for you because they limit your freedom with money. Enter limiting belief.
A belief I developed myself was to think that investing in the stock market is like gambling. It took a lot of reading before I dared to see things differently and begin investing.
It doesn’t matter how the belief came to be. What matters is that it’s not true and it rules your world. You’re not in control in relation to your belief.
I don’t blame your parents for your beliefs. I don’t blame society. Not really. That’s just how these things develop.
As I wrote initially I blame you for your beliefs. Not for how they came to be, but how they are today and how they affect your life. I have to blame you for that so that you can take responsibility.
You’re the one who holds the beliefs today and as I also wrote in the beginning, you’re the solution to your situation too. What a relief, right?
It might take some work for you. For some people, it’s easier.
Remember how I said that you shape your world through your beliefs and self-fulfilling prophecies? You might be comfortable in the world as you view it and might not want to change it that easily.
Changing limiting beliefs is something I think you absolutely should do because they are holding you back.
For me, it was really world changing to challenge my limiting beliefs. In a very short amount of time, I became happier, more open, more aware.
I also want to warn you (in a good way), that it might be a bit of a spiritual journey to begin to question your beliefs.
The Solution Is In You
If you’ve read this and thought “Oh no, that sounds like me”, don’t worry. You’re not beyond saving.
You need to recognize that you have a limiting belief in order to do something about it. And you just did that, didn’t you?
If you’ve come this far, grab a piece of paper and write down your limiting belief.
The challenging part is to make a contrary affirmation. Any time you find yourself playing the limiting belief in your mind, you counter with the affirmation.
For the “money doesn’t grow on trees”, since it’s a scarcity mindset belief, you want an abundance belief to counter.
Let’s stay in the field of finances and money since that’s where we’ve spent the last 10–15 minutes together.
An affirmation to counter that could be “there’s a lot of money in the world and it can be found everywhere”.
When you start with affirmations you will feel like a complete doofus. You’ll also feel like you’re lying. “What do you mean money comes to me easily…”?
Affirmations like this will change your awareness and make you look for new things.
Instead of looking for reasons that money is scarce, you’ll start looking for signs of abundance and how money comes to you.
Even if it’s just a buck you found on the street.
It’s more than you had before you found it. Be happy. Because you’ve noticed that the affirmation works. You’ve also begun to shift your mindset.
Wait and see what happens in the future and what you can do with this.