This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind" by T. Harv Eker. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What’s your idea of money? Do you believe you aren’t capable of earning past a certain benchmark? Do you think of yourself as a person who doesn’t have what it takes to achieve financial success?
Your limiting beliefs about money are the result of negative conditioning you adopted throughout your childhood—the more you engage in this type of thinking, the more you associate money with the feeling of powerlessness. As a result, you’re incapable of achieving the financial success that you want.
In this article, we’ll talk about how we form and then hold on to limiting beliefs about money, and what you can do to start overcoming them.
How We Form Limiting Beliefs About Money
According to T. Harv Eker, the author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, limiting beliefs about money are the result of your childhood programming. Unconsciously, we internalize our parents’ beliefs about money (their “money mindset”) and these beliefs determine how we relate to money in adulthood.
Many personal development practitioners teach this concept—the consensus is that people develop patterns of behavior based on beliefs that they’re unaware of. However, while Eker narrows down this concept to focus solely on money, psychologists and self-help practitioners argue that your beliefs impact all areas of your life, even if they seem to relate to just one. This is because how you think, feel, and behave in one area of your life influences the decisions you make in all areas of your life.
For example, you feel insecure about your love life. Each time you get into a relationship, you give up a lot of your time and energy in an attempt to make the relationship work. Your insecurity about your relationship leads you to neglect your friends and your personal goals, such as maintaining a fitness routine or working on side projects to meet your financial goals.
The example illustrates the difficulty with singling out thoughts and beliefs for specific areas of your life—in this case, your beliefs about your love life impact your finances, your fitness, and your friendships. Therefore, throughout the rest of this article, reflect on how your thoughts and beliefs in all areas of your life impact your finances and vice versa—how your thoughts and beliefs about money impact your overall life experience.
Holding on to Your Limiting Money Beliefs Perpetuates Your Victim Mentality
To illustrate how limiting money beliefs can perpetuate a victim mentality, let’s look at an example. If you dislike your job and blame your employer for not paying you enough, you limit your choices because you prevent yourself from accepting your role in the situation (you choose to do this job and to accept this pay). You vent your frustration by resenting and blaming people who have what you want. To cope with this feeling of powerlessness and frustration, you make excuses to explain why you’re in this unhappy situation, such as, “It’s okay, at least I have a job to pay the bills.” These negative habits stop you from focusing on what you need to do to move forward and keep you trapped in an unsuccessful situation.
|How Your Unconscious Biases Keep You Stuck in Negative Cycles|
Poor people get stuck in a cycle of poverty because they want money but have no money. They engage in negative habits to deal with their disappointment, and these habits prevent them from taking the actions necessary to earn, receive, or “attract” money.
While you may feel that your negative thoughts and beliefs are entirely rational (your experiences justify your negative reactions), it’s likely that your conditioning has prompted the formation of unconscious biases that led you to develop these negative tendencies. These biases are the result of your brain’s attempt to make quick judgments based on your past experiences, and they shape the way you think about and perceive your environment.
There are many different types of cognitive biases, and each of them influences your perception in different ways. The most common forms are confirmation bias, the tendency to pay more attention to the information that confirms and reinforces your opinion, and negativity bias, the tendency to notice and dwell on the negative aspects of your experience.
Break Free From Your Negative Tendencies
To break free from the impact of your conditioning and the cognitive biases that influence you, ask yourself why you engage in negative thinking and what reasons you use to justify these thoughts. If you notice that you engage in any of the tendencies on Eker’s list, first ask yourself where you learned to react in this way (for example, from your role models or your social group). Next, ask yourself what benefits you receive from behaving this way (you get to stay in your comfort zone). Finally, ask yourself if reacting in this way empowers you to move towards your financial success or discourages you from taking positive action to improve your finances.
How to Overcome Limiting Money Beliefs
According to Eker, you only need to replace your unproductive thoughts and beliefs about money with productive thoughts and beliefs—this will improve your mindset, reprogram the way you behave around money, and increase your financial setpoint. Similarly, lots of self-help books claim that you just need to improve your thoughts to improve your life.
For example, Louise Hay (You Can Heal Your Life) argues that you just need to “affirm” what you want to make it come true: Change the statement “I’m not rich” to “I am rich” and repeat this multiple times a day. Eventually, you’ll come to believe this thought and your programming will align with your new beliefs. As a result, you’ll find yourself naturally taking actions that lead to more money.
However, while Maltz (Psycho-Cybernetics) believes that you can train yourself into feeling, and then acting successfully (by copying the positive thought patterns that successful people have), he argues that affirmations are not enough to change your beliefs and your programming—he believes that your mind will automatically reject thoughts that don’t align with your established beliefs.
Maltz claims that the only way to change your beliefs is to regularly use your imagination to visualize and feel the success (wealth) that you want—this is because your nervous system operates according to how you feel, not how you think. According to Maltz, this practice will train your mind to become more comfortable with the feeling of financial success, and it’s the only way to change old and unproductive beliefs. Therefore, as you work through Eker’s suggestions, imagine how you’d feel if you adopted the rich mindset and achieved the wealth that you want.
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- The difference between the way rich people and poor people think and feel about money
- How to improve your finances by taking conscious control of your thoughts
- Why you may be holding yourself back from becoming wealthy