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Are You Sabotaging Your Financial Success?

Markets go up and down, but one fact holds true: Your money scripts—the unconscious beliefs you hold about money—determine your financial health.

People who are financially successful think very differently than those who are not. In fact, there are discernable patterns of beliefs and behaviors about money that are associated with wealth, and there are patterns that are associated with financial struggle.

Our research on the money scripts of more than 400 people reveals striking differences between the beliefs of the wealthy and people who struggle financially. Recently published in the Journal of Financial Therapy, the results indicate three categories of money scripts that are associated with less income and lower net worth.

1. Money Avoidance: This set of beliefs includes Rich people are greedy, Money corrupts people and I don’t deserve money. Often, such beliefs are rooted in low self-esteem and-or childhood experiences where money was misused or misunderstood. Unless we are able to accept that money is simply a tool that can be used for good as well as evil, we may unconsciously sabotage our success.

2. Money Status: These beliefs include Your self-worth equals your net worth and Money is what gives life meaning. When we erroneously equate the acquisition of material things with our value or status as human beings, we set ourselves up for problems. We may take excessive risks to chase a win, or slip into despair and give up when we fail. Either trap threatens our financial health.

3. Money Worship: These beliefs include More money will make you happier and There will never be enough money. This worship of money persists despite the fact that there is no correlation between money and happiness above an income of $75,000 per year. The belief that more is better can lead to workaholism—sacrificing family and health for the pursuit of money— miserliness, and ironically, lower income and lower net worth. The belief that more money or possessions will make you happier is a common misperception in the United States and one of the reasons behind the current economic crisis. We set arbitrary “more money” or “more stuff” targets, believing that those magical numbers and material items will bring us meaning, peace, happiness, security or whatever else we feel is missing in our lives. The problem is that when the target is met, the corresponding payoff never shows up. True happiness comes from our close connections, immersion in passionate pursuits and helping others.

Financial success by itself does not lead to happiness. Money is a tool; no more and no less. The good news is that you can control your money mindsets. If your pattern of thinking about money has caused you financial stress or disappointment, you can challenge and change it. What we think, we do. What we say to ourselves becomes our reality. Identifying your money scripts and abandoning those that are limiting your ability to attract abundance into your life are essential steps on your road to financial success. With the right money mindset, you can begin to change your financial trajectory. Regardless of your starting point or your current financial situation, you can rewire your brain for financial success.

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