I remember one Christmas when I was growing up and wanted a big box of Legos.
I’m not talking about one of those tiny sets that would build a castle; I’m talking about the whole enchilada—an entire kingdom. This was a giant Lego box that I, along with my brothers, deeply desired, but all December I remained uncertain as to whether or not I would be gifted this luxury.
I remember that, during the weeks leading up to Christmas, I was filled with anxiety. I remember having discussions with my parents about the box’s cost. My Indian parents reminded me that the Lego set was a big sacrifice and financial commitment on their part.
Christmas day came and, ultimately, my brothers and I received the Lego set we wanted—but it was after much anxiety and uncertainty.
A couple of other incidents in my childhood had similar lasting impacts. One was the constant talk in my family about money and whether or not various things were affordable. I’m sure this is a conversation that occurs in every household, but the predominant thought in my family regarding every purchase was, “Can we afford it?”
I guess the incidents that stood out the most, and that were the most embarrassing, for me involved school projects and field trips that families had to pay for. I recall that, regardless of the field trip or event, my parents would inquire whether a fee reduction or scholarship of some sort was available.
Now, let me say three things here.
One, many of these behaviors could have been cultural—Indian people hate to pay full price for anything. It’s why they have a love/hate relationship with America. Their earning capacities are high, and they constitute one of the wealthiest communities out there, but they can’t fathom paying full price for anything.
In the motherland, we bargain, negotiate, plead, and coerce shopkeepers, dentists, and even auto drivers to give us the best possible prices.
Two, as immigrants to the United States and operators of a new business, my parents were doing something inherently risky. Having invested their lives’ assets into a small family business was nerve-wracking. Being in a new country like the United States, running a business, and managing a family’s finances was hard work.
What I’m saying is that my parents were certainly in a financial crunch and that the money issues our family faced were likely real.
Since graduating from law school, I’ve run my own businesses in the United States and know the highly unpredictable nature of business. Until the next client comes along, you never know whether you can meet your monthly expenses or hit your bottom line.
Three, I want to say that although I don’t blame my parents for the rocky financial situation I faced during childhood, I do think it affected me. When you’re constantly being told that your family doesn’t have enough, or that it’s unclear whether your family can meet simple expenses, you end up with fearful attitudes about money and constantly feel as though you don’t have enough.
The money-related anxiety and fear that our parents instill in us can damage us financially for life.
When you want to live a richer life, you forget about the underlying subconscious script playing at the back of your mind. You don’t realize that your entire outlook and ability to earn is being held back by your beliefs and blocks about money.
Simply put: You can’t invite more money into your life until you change your beliefs and subconscious thoughts about money.
You can read all the blogs, books, and magazine articles in the world, but your money situation is not going to change until you address the underlying beliefs about it.
If you’ve grown up in a household that was tight about finances (and I’ll just say any Indian or Asian household), you likely have certain beliefs about money that are not based on reality but, instead, are based on traditions or mindsets cultivated over generations.
Some common false beliefs about money include:
- Money doesn’t grow on trees.
- You have to work very hard for money.
- You can either be happy or rich.
- Earning money is a struggle.
- Money is scarce and difficult to accumulate.
- More money, more problems.
- You’re not a good person if you’re rich.
- The more money you have, the more snobbish you are.
- You need to save up your money for a long time to be wealthy.
You get the idea.
You have, I have, we all have been inundated with these limiting beliefs about money. Many of us have taken these beliefs to heart and have allowed them to shape our views of the world.
So when you’re struggling with money issues or having difficulty making ends meet, you must attack the root cause of your problems—your money mindset.
You have very deep, subconscious, and psychological fears about money.
Would it be fair to call this an emotional money trauma?
When you grow up without enough food to eat, you’re likely to feel that you might run out of food.
It’s the same with love. When you don’t have enough love as a child, you’ll tend to feel rejected and abandoned throughout your life.
Ditto with money. When you struggle with money during your formative years, you’ll have some deep emotional wounds and, consequently, believe you’ll never have enough of it.
Forget about making money for now. There are plenty of programs, methods, and people out there who will tell you how to earn more money.
It’s not your bank account you should be concerned with, but your money mindset.
Let’s get to the root issues surrounding money.
Here are 10 strategies that can help you shift your thoughts about money and help you live a richer life.
1. Visualize your abundance.
Instead of thinking about what you don’t have and what you’re lacking, think about what you want in your life. What does abundance feel like to you?
What would it feel like to not worry about money? Where would you live? What would you do with your time? What would you buy?
Have you ever experienced a period of abundance in your life? How would you walk? How would you breathe? Imagine and stay in a place of abundance instead of a place of lack.
Use positive visualizations to imagine having enough. Imagine whatever it is your heart desires. What would make you feel abundant?
Get creative and picture an abundant life in your mind. Some people create vision boards that portray a visually compelling picture of an abundant life. But you can just as effectively visualize a picture of a rich life.
2. Embrace the positive vibrations.
How do you embrace the vibrations of joy and gratitude when you feel neither? Well, here’s the thing—you gotta start cultivating these feelings in your life.
You have small moments of joy every day. Capture it, cultivate it, and create more of it. Actively schedule activities that bring you absolute joy. Try to refrain from those activities that make you feel horrible about yourself.
Put yourself in high-vibrational places where you’re emitting positive energy.
If hanging out with your high-achieving sister who works at Goldman Sachs and who has two kids and the perfect house makes you feel like a loser, spend less time with your sister!
If your daily yoga class or workout makes you feel good about yourself and brings joy into your life, make sure those activities are on your calendar.
Fight for your joyous activities every day. Do things that bring you pleasure (unless they require a bottle of Crown Royal or could get you arrested).
3. Immerse yourself in a little luxury.
I hate luxurious things; it probably doesn’t help for me to write that here.
I grew up wanting to do something that would help a lot of people, serve others, and create a more just world. I practiced law to balance the scales of justice for some of the most vulnerable people in society. I worked as a union organizer to give workers a voice and to help them stand up to corporations.
While it’s understandable that I’m not comfortable surrounded by luxury, I’ve tried to reverse that trend by putting myself in luxurious places. I’ve walked through and hung out in the lobbies of the fanciest hotels in the world. I’ve embraced the experience of going to conferences where I was put up in nice hotels. I’ve volunteered to take rides in fancy cars.
I’ve spent days at nice beach resorts and even eaten at a handful of fancy restaurants, all in an effort to help myself get comfortable with luxurious places. In the process, I’ve dealt with my own resistance and uncomfortableness. I’m trying to embrace luxury so I will stop resisting it.
Similarly, I encourage you to take a couple of actions this week. Go to places where you normally wouldn’t go. Have coffee and dessert at a fancy restaurant. Walk through a place like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Fifth Avenue in New York City, or the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
4. Role play (seriously!)
What kind of abundance do you want in your life? Travel? Wealth? Better relationships? The man of your dreams? More excitement? Enjoyment? A more exotic city to live in?
Whatever it is you seek, try playing that role. What do I mean by this?
Take a trip to the city where you want to live. Dress up in the clothes you would wear if you had an abundant life.
Have a meal at a nicer restaurant. Attend plays at artsy theaters.
If you can upgrade your hotel room, your rental car, or the meal you ordered, go for it. Do those things you would do if money was not an object.
Live up your life a little and try to do those things that you would do if you had all the money you wanted.
You don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts of money either; look for free events and opportunities. Rent cars or clothes to help you feel more abundant.
Essentially, set yourself up in situations and play roles that help you feel more abundant.
5. Give affirmations a try.
I’ve not talked much about affirmations here, but they have helped myself and others. My friend, Farnoosh, talks about how affirmations were critical to changing her mindset and helping her become an entrepreneur.
In this post, Farnoosh not only provides examples of affirmations you can use, but also offers a one-minute affirmation video.
Here are some wealth affirmations from Jonathan Parker you can use as well.
If your mind is filled with negativity and thoughts of lack, repeat affirmations regularly to shift your mindset to more positivity and abundance.
Keep a list of your affirmations on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or steering wheel so you’ll have a continual reminder of them.
If you would like to create more abundance in your life, you can also try a meditation. This 10-minute meditation by Lilou is one I’ve found effective:
6. Tap your way to abundance.
I don’t quite know why tapping works, but I have found that it creates a state of abundance in my life.
It’s based on ancient teachings and acupuncture points on your body. You tap these various designated points and repeat affirmations of healing and positivity toward your money blocks.
Again, weird as heck, but what you’re doing is tapping into your unconscious mind patterns and breaking through subconsciously to clear your money blocks.
Try to do this when no one’s around because if anyone is watching you, he or she might call the local mental health clinic to wheel you away.
7. Continually acknowledge abundance.
When good things show up in our lives, we tend to ignore them.
Instead of doing this, take a moment to celebrate the synchronicities that show up in your life. These are coincidences and blessings.
Get serious about showing appreciation for the small things.
Be grateful for your car and for the money you use to buy gas. Be thankful to your boss who lets you go home early. Be grateful to the client who pays off his or her bills, or the patient who brings you a fancy box of Cadbury’s chocolates.
Every night, write a list of 10 to 20 items you’re thankful for. Your family counts, your pets count, your annoying neighbors moving out from the next-door apartment counts, and so does the lunch your best friend treated you to.
8. Dress better
Get in the spirit of feeling more abundant. During college, in my quest to live like the Average Joe, I bought my clothes from thrift stores and second-hand stores. It didn’t bother me if the clothes were torn or had holes in them.
Since that time, I’ve realized that, no, the average person doesn’t wear torn or ripped clothing.
While I still prefer simple clothes, and have only a minimal number of clothes, I try to buy better-quality clothing and have even purchased a couple of nicer shirts.
Your closet doesn’t need to look like the rack at Nordstrom’s, but you can purchase a few good-quality shirts or dresses. Wear them on a regular basis and feel more abundant by sporting some stylish fashions.
9. Create an inspiration board.
Some people say a vision board can inspire more wealth and abundance. On it, you place pictures of what you want to see in your life.
I have a different approach. I put things on my vision board that simply inspire me and that put me in a better mood. I incorporate quotes that inspire me, people who inspire me, and other photos and pictures that make me feel good.
I use this inspiration board to create a sense of happiness and positive vibrations so every time I look at it, I feel more abundance. My inspiration board is filled with peaceful places, churches, sanctuaries and a few famous people (Oprah, Deepak Chopra and hey, even my hero, Leo Babauta)
10. Be generous.
Finally, there’s no better way to feel a sense of abundance than to give back.
When you give, you feel better about yourself. Giving is the simplest and easiest way to feel abundance in your life.
When you give, you’re telling the universe that you’re in a state of wealth and enough. You can’t give unless you have.
Of course, you can’t give money when you don’t have money. But you can give your time and your energy. You can give your attention and your presence. You can provide free services or just help someone. Do one small act of kindness a day.
All of these practices will help you feel more abundance. If you’re wondering why you don’t have the money you desire, don’t sit back and do nothing.
And don’t take action alone without shifting your vibrations and your mindset.
No online course, special training, or raise at work will help until you change your mindset regarding money.
Start with these money-blocking exercises to break through your abundance blocks.
Feel more abundance and you’ll start seeing more abundance in your life.
* Photo credit