How badly do you want more money? Enough to look inside yourself to find what’s blocking the flow of money to you? Enough to face emotions that have been buried for many years? Enough to be honest with yourself about how you really feel about money, every time you deal with it? We’re inundated with financial books, TV shows, and workshops, yet many people continue to wonder, “Why don’t I have more money?” Even with all the available resources and tools that could change one’s financial picture, a vast majority of people never implement what they learn because actions are driven by how you feel right now. How you want to feel in the future has no bearing.
Feelings power actions. They have precedence over logic, practicality, discipline, and great ideas. If you feel neutral about something, logic, reason and choice guide actions. But if you don’t, your emotions commandeer what you do, or don’t do. Memories, beliefs and programming about money create strong feelings that drive every action you take and motivate you to avoid taking actions that involve increasing your income and savings, and lowering your debt. That’s why many financial experts are fantastic money managers for their clients but amass their own significant debt or live hand to mouth. Since they’re neutral about their clients’ money, they’re logical, even brilliant. But it’s the opposite with their own money.
It’s incredibly important to make the effort to recognize your feelings about money in an honest way, since it’s more comfortable to ignore them. Once you do, the power to earn more begins to shift to your control. First you need to find any emotional pain you may have that’s specific to money, and clear it. Unfortunately, most people don’t want to look for this pain and wouldn’t know what to do if they found it. But this critical first step is truly where the transformation in your money situation begins and the key to increasing wealth.
My first intention is to help you recognize your emotions related to money and how they’re connected to—and literally creating—your financial picture. Your true feelings, which are often just below your consciousness, determine almost every aspect of how you make and handle money.
Testing Your Money Emotions
Answering the question, “Why don’t I have more money?” requires you to look below the surface of your conscious feelings, often way below, to discover your true emotions about it. The first exercise allows you to take proactive steps to recognize those that drive your financial picture. After all, you can’t change what you’re not aware of. Try this with a very open mind so you can begin to recognize the truth about why you don’t have more money:
Write: Write your current income—the actual number you earn right now—in big letters on a blank paper. If you’re trying to start or build a business or switch from a mediocre job into your dream one, write just the income from the new venture, the one you want to expand the most, the career or work you want as your biggest source of income. Even if you work part-time job to help pay bills, just include income sources you want to expand.
Express: Focus on the number you wrote down and say out loud, “I’m earning ____ per week/month.” Even at this point in the exercise some people start feeling uncomfortable about that black-and-white number. Now look at it and say a loud, “It’s not enough!” Take some deep breaths and allow yourself to feel what happens in your body when you say that.
Evaluate: Note how true this statement—“It’s not enough”— feels to you. Does it create an intense feeling in your body? Write down those feelings and measure them on same scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being calm and 10 representing the most intense, uncomfortable emotion when you say, “It’s not enough!”
I’ve done this exercise with many thousands of people from around the world, individually and in groups. The overwhelming feedback is that saying “It’s not enough!” feels very true. Many explain they’re trying to earn more or are frustrated that their income isn’t enough to support them. Those who’ve tried to start a new business or are running their own for several years feel particularly bad about their income and say: “I feel anxiety.” “I feel panic.” “I feel sadness.” “I feel shame.” “I feel anger.” These negative emotions all contribute to the problem.
Your income is the largest stream of money flowing into your life, so how you feel about it really matters. That’s why facing that you don’t have enough to support you or your dreams is difficult. The reality is, whether you face the real emotional impact head on or ignore it, it remains present on some level, like a heavy burden you can’t shake. Many people experience intense anxiety and racing thoughts about money during quiet moments, like bedtime. Any time money comes up in some way, the emotional impact is felt, even if you try to squelch or control it. Fear, anxiety, panic, sadness, anger, and frustration are triggered at some level in your body and nervous system.
When these emotions get strong, they activate the stress response, also called the fight-or-flight response, which attaches an additional heaping of pain. You may feel it right now and want to stop this exercise. The fight-or-flight response is an inborn, primitive reaction designed to do one thing—give you physiological readiness to fight for your life or run to safety. It’s a powerful driver that intensifies and reinforces feelings that create a negative feedback loop. In modern life, we don’t fight for survival physically so the impact of this response only hampers us mentally. It’s well documented in literature that when it’s activated, thinking narrows, problem-solving ability decreases, creative thinking is obstructed, and thoughts race or become fuzzy. Your body gets flooded with energy and muscle tension but your mind scans the horizon for danger in survival mode. You can’t access all your brilliance when it’s happening.
Every time you get paid, or look at your checkbook, or pay bills, or thoughts related to finances cross your mind, negative emotions about money can trigger your entire nervous system into the fight-or-flight response. Since this is painful, it elicits two reactions. First, you avoid dealing with and thinking about money as much as possible and put almost no energy, time and focus into your money situation. Second, when you must deal with money, you’ll have a survival mindset. The negative emotions leave you less able to think, plan and act creatively, brilliantly or efficiently. Your inborn survival response convinces your brain:
I don’t need amazing creative ideas and certainly don’t need math right now. I need all my energy, my fighting and running muscles ready, and my mind to look at one field of view, racing and ready, looking for more danger on the horizon, ready to go, go, go.
The truth is, if you don’t have the level of money you say you want, your emotional content related to money is interfering with your ability to earn a lot more and handle what you have in ways that it grows. Studies report that even thinking one negative thought can trigger your body to release cortisol, a stress hormone known as a marker for stress levels. Stress keeps you off the track you say you want to be on. On the other side, your physiology responds to feeling happy, enthusiasm, and positive thoughts, with feel good chemicals that put your mind in the right place to for getting what you want, including actions and inspirations that create more money.
Even if you have a good income, old issues can trigger severe negative emotions that keep you from enjoying what you have and hurt your well-being.
Being in the fight-or-flight state leaves you less able and resourceful to take action. You might pray or work harder or try to use the Law of Attraction to manifest more money, but the biggest impact on your ability to change your financial circumstances is how you really feel when thinking about your income. This is because your feelings drive your thinking and actions. Ignoring negative emotions won’t make them go away. This is where Tapping makes a powerful difference since it literally turns off the fight-or-flight response. All those negative emotions work against your quest to increase your bottom line. Tapping is an effective antidote.
Taken from the book Tapping into Wealth by Margaret Lynch.