By Eric Perry, PhD-c
“Poverty is a state of mind.” ~Rahul Gandhi
Do you ever catch yourself passing on joyous opportunities because you feel it will be too expensive? Do you second guess yourself before or after making purchases? If so, you may be experiencing symptoms of a poverty mindset. It is important to differentiate between actual poverty and refusing to experience life more abundantly. Research suggests that 80% of the world lives on $10 per day. At least 1.1 billion people in developing countries do not have access to water and some 1.2 billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity. If you have water and electricity, chances are you are not living in extreme poverty. And, if you are not living in extreme poverty, chances are you can afford to treat yourself, at least some of the time.
Here are some ways to overcome a poverty mindset:
1. Acknowledge the source
Pause for a moment and consider how past experiences might have had a lasting impact on the perception you have about your current financial situation. Attachment theorist John Bowlby would suggest that childhood experiences of lack or “not having” would promote an insecure attachment style towards money. Do you feel like you experienced “not having” as a child? Keep in mind that “not having” is not limited only to monetary circumstances. For example, there can be poverty in love, health, and relationships. It is not uncommon that lack in these areas can translate into feelings of lack about financial stability.
2. Growth starts with acceptance
It can be easy, though not fulfilling, to stay stuck in old belief systems or behavioral patterns. It takes a tremendous amount of humility and courage to step outside of our comfort zone and admit we have weaknesses. Remember, if we want something different, we must be willing to try something different. Acceptance that you may be struggling in this area is the first and most important step to take in overcoming your poverty mindset.
3. Differentiate luxury versus utility
Are you comfortable spending as long as it is strictly for utility? It can be helpful to evaluate the nature of our spending. Take a moment to reflect on the areas in your life where spending is less bothersome. If you are a person who avoids spending on luxury then it is important to ask yourself, “Why am I withholding joy from myself?” Remember, money is not an end. Money can be a vehicle to increasing joy. Is it really that you cannot afford something, or could it be that you do not feel worthy of spending on yourself? Sometimes, we might even tell ourselves, “Well, once I do something worth celebrating, then I will treat myself.” Aren’t you tired of waiting?
4. Consider the sacrificial component
Sometimes, we might feel like it is necessary to sacrifice our joy in the present moment to preserve our stability for future moments. Of course, this logic makes sense to some extent. But, how far is too far? This can only be answered by you. Beware of the negative core belief of “I’m not good enough” and “I’m not worthy.” These two NCB(s) can lead to us withholding from ourselves for years and years.
5. Treat yourself
Set aside $5-20 dollars to spend on something for yourself that is out of the norm. It really can be anything. The only rule is that it cannot be for utility. It must be on something that is intended to add joy to your life.
What are your thoughts about the poverty mindset? Have you been through this and have experiences to share that might be helpful for someone else? Please share it in the comments section.
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