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Facing Your Financial Fears

Just the other day, one of life’s lovely ironies came and sat in my lap. Want to know what it was?

I came down with a pretty decent case of what I like to affectionately call the “financial grungies.” Pretty ironic given that I teach money management and proactive finances for a living, right?

So what are the “financial grungies” exactly? For me this time, it felt like not wanting to honestly take a look at something related to my finances (more about that below), a knot in my stomach, a racing mind, and my blood felt like it was coursing through my veins at an extra-quick pace. Oh, and all of that was wrapped up in a nice big bow of FEAR and SCARCITY. Yuck, yuck, yuck. It was so clear that financial fear had come to pay me an unwelcome visit.

Yup, the teacher and healer got to use her own tools to heal herself. Gotta love it.
And here’s what I reminded myself of when I got to diagnosing the situation at hand and whipping out my financial toolbox:

  • BREATHE! This may be the most important suggestion I’ll make in this entire article. Living in the knot-in-your-stomach-blood-coursing sense of panic won’t ever serve you, since it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to think or operate from a clear space. So this is exactly what I did when I felt the fear kick in – I stopped what I was doing (or should I say what I was pretending to try to do….and I was doing it very ineffectively I might add), and I moved to the nearest chair and started to breathe deeply, in and out. The sense of panic and fear within me slowly died down after a few minutes.
  • Raise your vibration – Breathing normally is only really the starting point and it’s intended to try to restore you back to an equilibrium point (and out of the “grungies”). Once you’re feeling somewhat stable, you’ll want to do something to jump start your energy again – think of it like a car battery where you want to give yourself an electric charge. Depending on what gets you going, you’ll have a different way of raising your energy. Some people dance or exercise, yet for me I find it soothing to listen to a guided meditation that’s specifically wired to reset my brain waves. When I did this the other day, on the other side of 15 minutes I was already feeling much better and was ready to take on the next step. This step is important and the intention is to put you in a positive frame of mind before you move forward to see what’s at the root of the financial fear you’re feeling.
  • Get clear on what gets to be handled – I’ve said for years that financial clarity leads to choice, which leads to the ability to contribute in a bigger way, which results in a higher sense of connectedness. Without clarity, you’re often left feeling disconnected (from yourself and from others) which only enhances the sense of fear in the current situation. For me, I knew that over the last few months I had been investing quite a bit of money into my business and myself (as the business owner). After breathing and meditating, I got clear that the task ahead of me was to update my list of business investments. I knew that the investments I made were wise ones (and ones I would make over and over again), and so I knew it was time to briefly summarize the dollar value of those investments.
  • Break down the task (or tasks) to small, manageable steps – In my example, the tasks to be completed were relatively simple in the sense that it involved consulting transactions and balances on various bank and credit card statements. In your case, it might be a bit more complex, in which case you’ll want to think first about the end result you want. From there, think about the first step you would take, then the second, then the third, etc., continuing until you have a solid flow of steps mapped out to get you the end result you desire. As examples, if your task is to work on getting out of debt you’ll want to understand the total amount of debt you have along with interest rates and minimum payments. If your task is to be saving more money, you’ll want to get clear on what you want to save for and how much you want to save.
  • Take one step (and repeat until complete) – It’s as simple as it sounds – take your first step as soon as humanly possible to build positive momentum and start shaking off those grungies once and for all. I know that the minute I sat down at my computer and started a brand new business investment summary that I instantly felt much better…and it only got better from there!

The outcome of taking each of these steps is that you are able to accept the situation as it is, and in a grounded way work through whatever financial challenge is contributing to the fear at hand. As a bonus step, it may also support you to confide in someone you trust what it is that you’re working through (both the fear and the steps you’re committed to taking), so that they can hold you accountable to the steps that you want to take as well as support you in moving through the fear in whatever way they are able to.

In the end, the lesson here is that no matter how proactive you try to be (and I’m very proactive!), sometimes financial fear secretly slips into the picture without you even realizing it. And if you ignore the fear, you may end up significantly altering your road to financial freedom by inadvertently sabotaging your financial plan.

So don’t let financial fear hold you back from standing fully in your power – begin clearing away the fear and start healing and transforming your relationship with money today!

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Upgrading Your Money Mindset

As you start on your journey out of financial overwhelm onto a path of financial independence, it is important to take a look at your earlier years where you began to learn about money.  It is truly amazing how many people are held back by limiting fears and beliefs about money that they never even realized they had, and often these limiting fears and beliefs are engrained in us from things that we saw, heard, and experienced with money early on in our lives.  And when we don’t realize that we have these limiting fears and beliefs, they’re like a hamster running on a wheel in our brain…imprinting and reinforcing the same unsupportive thoughts over and over and over again.

In order to truly build a strong financial foundation, it’s critical to first spend some time reconnecting with what you’ve seen, heard, and experienced with money throughout your life.  By first examining your financial background and beliefs, you’ll be more aware of what may be standing in your way of financial success. Once you become aware of any financial barriers you may have, you can then take the time to understand those barriers and ultimately reprogram your financial blueprint for financial success!

So, how do you exactly get started doing that?  I’m glad you asked!

When I work with people to help them understand their money mindset, I take a 3-step approach – awareness, understanding, and reconditioning.  In a nutshell, you have to first be aware that you have a particular money mindset block, then you need to better understand where it came from, and finally you need to focus on reconditioning that particular belief into something more positive.

Here’s a brief overview of the key steps you can take to peek inside your brain to see if your own hamster wheel is spinning without you even realizing it:

1)      Become aware of your money story and/or money history – When I work with clients, I ask them to provide candid answers to some pretty interesting questions about how they grew up with money and how money has shown up in their lives.  Here are 2 questions that you can ask yourself to begin identifying what unsupportive money beliefs might be standing in your way.

  • What is the “money story” that you grew up with? What did you see, hear, and experience with money?
  • Who did your “money story” come from?  Who influenced your thoughts about money?

2)      Take the time to understand the current impact of your money story – Once you’ve identified what you saw, heard and experienced with money earlier on in your life, it’s time to reflect on how it has impacted you over time and right now.  Ask yourself these questions:

  •  How has this “money story” shown up for you in your life (financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and in any other way that has impacted you)?
  • What is the core underlying belief (or message) within your “money story”? (For example, “I’m not good at managing money”; “Having a lot of money will make me less spiritual”; “I have some resentment toward wealthy people”; “Financial security comes from a paycheck and benefits”;  “You have to work hard for your money”; or “You can’t get rich doing what you love”…just to name a few.)

3)      Get ready to start clearing the decks – Once you’re aware of your money story and the impact that it has had on your life, it’s time to start reconditioning yourself to believe differently.  Quite honestly, one of the best strategies I’ve been taught to begin reconditioning yourself requires that you grab a rubber band and put it around your wrist.  And easily enough, use the rubber band to “snap” yourself on the wrist each time an unsupportive thought pops into your mind about money.  You would be surprised how quickly you get annoyed at having to snap yourself because it hurts!!!!  If you’re not wanting to harm yourself and want a gentler approach, carry a journal with you and write down your unsupportive thoughts when they come up and take the time at the end of each day to reflect on how each thought is not true (i.e. what evidence can you find in your life to contradict your thought).

In the interest of being transparent, I’ve had to go through this process a few times with unsupportive thoughts about money that I picked up along the way.  For me, my awesome parents who taught me great money management skills also engrained in me that “financial security comes from a paycheck and benefits.”  So, in other words, working for someone else offers financial stability – not so helpful for an entrepreneur, right?  I had to do some serious work to recondition myself to believe that I could rely on myself (and yes, I’ve actually done the rubber band snapping and while it hurts like hell it does work!).

As a final note, often times this process of examining your money mindset can be even more important than knowing your numbers and building a financial plan that helps you to save money and get out of debt.  Building your financial house means you need a strong financial foundation, and your mindset about money is exactly that…your foundation.

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