We’ve all had those thoughts about money that pop into our minds from time to time. We hear ourselves say them to friends during conversations or to our children at the dinner table.

  • “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
  • “Money is the root of all evil.”
  • “Rich people are greedy.”
  • “I’m not meant to be rich.”

What are these perceptions and where do they come from? These are the money blocks we’ve developed throughout our lives based on interactions we’ve had with friends, families, and mentors. While some money thoughts may only have been mentioned once, they have helped us make sense of the world around us. When you were a child and wanted a certain toy for your birthday, your parents may have told you that money doesn’t grow on trees. Because you weren’t old enough to understand money and commerce, you created the story that money is scarce. From there, you’ve carried a money block that has affected your financial goals and bank account.

One of the first steps in overcoming a money block is to raise your awareness of when it sneaks into your thoughts. Being able to notice the thought will help you break the cycle and start moving past your old habits. The easiest way to notice is in times of struggle, whether you are starting to get frustrated or sad, or whether you are ignoring a situation or hiding an action from others. This is usually a good indicator that you have a money block that needs to be cleared. For example, you are financially able to purchase a new pair of designer tennis shoes and you do. However, you have been hiding them from your spouse because you always heard your parents fight about one of them spending too much. You are keeping yourself from your financial dreams because your money block tells you that getting what you want will cause conflict.

I hope you’re now to the point where you can see these blocks and are asking, “What do I do now?” But before we move forward, I want to make an important point. These stories are not your fault. They are also not right or wrong. These blocks did serve a purpose at one point in your life, but now they are stopping you from achieving your true potential. This is not a time to feel shameful. Rather, it is a time to get excited because you are about to move forward and leave these blocks behind.

One of the best ways to move past these blocks is through visualization. The brain cannot tell the difference between visualization and actually living through the experience. To the brain, each thought is real, so let’s use that to our advantage. Take one of your money blocks and follow it through to success. Let’s say you believe that rich people are greedy. Visualize yourself being rich and all the ways you would give back to the world. Visualize with lots of detail and emotion. Put yourself in the situation of making a lot of money and seeing yourself giving to your favorite charity. How much would you give? How happy and fulfilled would that make you feel? What would the charity do with the money? Rewrite the story to prove to yourself that rich people can be kind and generous.

Another technique to overcome a block is to anticipate when you might experience one and come up with a way to work through it. Instead of being blindsided by your old money story, recognize that you will experience it, and figure out how to take the next step. One block I often experience is that my needs come second to others. I need to spend my money on others before I can spend on myself. I have gotten to the point that I am aware of this block. So now when I see it, I take a moment to assess the situation and ask myself if I truly need to spend on others first. I can’t say I’ve faced a situation where it is actually true, but by having this question in my back pocket, I am able to move through the block and take a realistic look at the situation.

This next suggestion can be hard for some individuals, but it helps remove the blocks of money scarcity and unworthiness to receive. The next time you receive money from someone, accept it without protest. Suppose you receive money from a neighbor because you shoveled their driveway while they were on vacation. When they give you the money, don’t respond with, “I can’t accept this,” or “It was no big deal.” Instead, just say thank you. All those other phrases are blocking you from receiving money. It is time to receive with gratitude.

Another technique involves an extension of raising your awareness. Certain financial situations, transactions, or interactions will trigger you. A trigger is an adverse emotional response and can be very dramatic. Think about a time you experienced a dramatic emotional response to a situation, but when you thought back to the event you wondered why you were so emotional. For example, you might get frustrated or angry every time your spouse spends money without telling you – no matter how small the expense might be. Next time you notice you’re becoming angry because of your partner’s spending habits, stop and think about what is really happening. It usually isn’t about the money. Are you feeling disrespected? Are you feeling fear of running out of money? Take a moment to think about the layers under the money and start addressing what might really be bothering you. At the end of the day, it is always about the money, but never about the money.

My last suggestion is to get support to help you start removing the money blocks that are stopping you from achieving your financial goals and dreams. There can be a lot of fear around money, and having someone in your corner to support and educate you can make a world of difference. There are so many ways to get this support — it could be a free educational class at your local library. It could be you and your friends having open and honest conversations about money. It could be a professional advisor you hire to guide you in your investment selections. Find a method that works for you and take the next step. Ask for help!

We all have money blocks. None of us are perfect. I still have blocks I need to work through on a daily basis. This is not an easy process, but it can be quick. Once you learn to identify situations and stories that are blocking your path to your financial goals, you can start taking steps to clear them. Bringing light to the blocks makes them easier to deal with and you can quickly learn to identify the block, assess the situation, and move through it. Just like anything in life, it will take practice, but imagine what life could look like if you continually move toward your goals instead of blocking your own path.

Savant Wealth Management is a Registered Investment Advisor. This is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as personalized financial advice.

Author Anne M. Mank Director of Financial Planning

Anne co-hosted the weekly radio show, Money Sense, and is a Certified Integrative Holistic Coach.

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