Do you count the days until payday, and then watch all the money drain from your bank account to pay the bills the minute it arrives? Are you in a constant state of financial cha-cha; you take one step forward, but two steps back? If this sounds familiar to you, you’re in survival mode. It’s the place that anyone who has experienced money struggles (and, really, who hasn’t?) knows all about. When you’re clawing out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and fighting to keep your head above water, realizing a wealth mindset is only a pipe dream. I know what that’s like.
Let’s face it. When money flows in regularly, it’s easier to feel secure, safe and supported. But when you’re in survival mode, it’s common to feel like a victim. In that state of mind, fear and panic often fuel really bad financial decisions. Here are some of the bad decisions I see people make when they are in a survival state of mind:
- False Faith: I’m all for manifesting your reality with positive affirmations, but when people try to “prove” their faith in future earning power by going into debt and overspending, it’s just a misuse of the law of attraction.
- Magical Solutions: Sorry to burst your bubble, but there isn’t a Swiss army knife to solve all of your financial woes. When in survival mode, many fall victim to the belief that if they just get this one website or program or retreat (insert whatever magical solution that tantalizes your daydreams here) all will be peachy in their financial lives. Often, these tools touted to “get you back on track” cost more than you can afford.
- Avoidance: Because you don’t feel like you’re in control, you divorce yourself from taking responsibility for it. You use your stories and circumstances as a shield, instead of dealing with what is right in front of you and accepting that what is required from you now is only temporary.
- Belligerence: We’re only human. If money struggles seem to be your constant companion, you might start feeling defensive or just plain worn out. “Darn it, I am sick and tired of feeling like I never have enough. Screw it!” And then you rush out to spend money you don’t have on something frivolous and dig yourself further into debt.
- Giver Guilt: Ok, you crazy co-dependent, hard-working nurturing person who makes things happen, I’m talking to you! You can sit back and receive abundance. Take a step back and be open to receive for once.
- Attachment: Attachment is the idea that money has to come to us in a specific way or amount or time, or it isn’t “right.” The control freak tendencies we have attach us to a specific outcome and prevent us from letting things unfold—sometimes in a better way than we ever could have imagined.
Now that we know how survival mentality fuels bad decisions in our financial life, how do you move toward security? Take total responsibility.
Steps to Shift Out of Survival Mode
#1 Acknowledge your responsibility for the dynamics adopted from your family.
We all have our stories. I had major stories from my father about self employment. He always wanted to be an entrepreneur, made it clear his family was the reason he couldn’t. As a result, my story said such things as self-employed people fail and family prevents you from following your dreams. I had to take major responsibility for releasing these stories early on in my career—and it doesn’t seem like any coincidence that I am self employed, does it?
#2 Take responsibility for your worry and energy levels.
I am not saying this will fix anything, but it will help you make more level-headed decisions if you take a time-out for mental health consistently. And BTW, it’s easier to talk about money issues with loved ones when you’ve processed your emotions BEFORE the chat.
#3 Solidify your financial foundation.
Your financial foundation includes cash flow, cash reserves, and debt. You will have trouble building and expanding (investing, big ticket purchases, lifestyle expansion) until you’re very clear on how your life interacts with these three foundational areas (and until you feel secure). Commit to 15-30 minutes per week reviewing these areas. And treat yourself too…put on good music, get a really good cup of coffee and make the experience pleasant. Whenever you take financial action (or buy something) that deviates from the norm, ask yourself:
- Am I attached to an outcome?
- What is the story behind this purchase?
- What is my current emotional state?
You cannot immediately go from survival to peace of mind. It’s going to take commitment. It’s going to take work. But if you commit to working toward a more conscious money mindset, every step you take will increase your feeling of stability and security even in the midst of money issues.