I’ve been MIA. Not that my mind hasn’t been here, it’s that I’ve been struggling with where to place my thoughts. I needed some time to detach, figure some things out, and set my mind back up on the right track.
I realized a weird phenomenon while I was closely tracking my spending and writing my blog. I would crash and burn hard, every couple months or so, as if it was clockwork. It’s kind of like the person who gains weight when dieting because of the frequent binges that shake down whenever one deprives themselves too much.
Was my yo-yo financial dieting truly due to deprivation? Were my shopping bans actually depriving me, or were all my crash-and-burns happening due to a deprivation/poverty mindset?
Whenever I really tune in to the words of wealthy people (in my effort to learn what an “abundance mindset” looks like) I don’t hear the language that I constantly chirp at myself. There is no overflow of “can’ts” and “shouldn’ts” and definitely no severe chastising of behaviours. It was becoming painfully obvious that whenever I try to trim back – whether simply sticking to a budget or enforcing a full-on shopping ban – my mind was full of negative, restricting, impoverished verbiage.
I have not learned to separate choosing not to spend with being unable to spend.
Not spending on something I want has not been enforced in my subconscious as an active choice that comes from a place of enough, from a place of over-flow, or a place of abundance. To me, won’t always equaled can’t.
In my mind, not buying that new phone comes from a place of not being able to afford it, not because the one I have works perfectly fine, and I’m grateful I have that piece of technology that keeps me connected to my friends and loved ones. Saying I can’t meet friends at a cocktail bar comes from a place of saying I’m too broke to pay $12 for cocktails, and not from a firm belief that I am able to afford those drinks, but would much rather prefer to allocate that money to building a strong financial future for myself where I can also help support my family as they age. All my choices were coming from negativity, lack, and a firmly entrenched mindset in poverty thinking.
You know what the biggest problem with poverty thinking is? It’s not just that soul-crushing heavy cloud that hovers over you, it’s not that lack of motivation that settles in that makes you throw your hands up and think “what’s the point if I can never get ahead?” It’s that we humans are hard-wired to gather, scoop up, collect and store when we think resources are scarce and there won’t be enough.
Just like a squirrel who goes into overdrive collecting nuts before the barren landscape of winter hits, we tend to stockpile when we think there’s not enough, or when we think the source of what we need will run dry. We’re far from hunter-gatherers now, but try telling someone there won’t always be ‘thing X’ around, and see how bad they start wanting it – ALL of it. It’s why limited time sales work and why binge diets don’t. We don’t like the feeling of scarcity, and we have a hard time finding balance when we feel things are scarce.
To counteract this, I’m working on feeling that my saving and debt repayment money actions (as opposed to shopping and spending) come from a place of active choice and not from lack. I’m trying to sit and grow my feelings of contentment and “enoughness” so I know my choices come from the absence of want, not the absence of money. I want to be so enveloped in my motivation to make my money work in service of my ideal life that when I choose not to spend, there is no doubt it’s because I want to allocate the fruit of my output towards my dreams.
So I put my writing and my involvement in the personal finance community (which mostly means reading and hopefully offering encouraging thoughts on fellow bloggers’ posts) on hold until I could deconstruct my negative beliefs and put myself back together in the right way. To be perfectly honest, I’m not there yet. I don’t think I’ve made my mind right yet, and I still can’t really tell you what an abundance mindset looks and feels like. I still catch myself calling myself broke, that there’s not enough, and that I’ll never get ahead. But I’ve decided I need to start again somewhere, and if we all waited until we were perfectly ready or felt like we had it all figured out before we started on our challenges, we simply would never get started.
I’ve decided to take one step forward again. It might take a while to get the other foot in front of it, but I’m certain that when it does, it’ll be going in the right direction.