While driving have you ever wondered how you have got home, without consciously being aware of taking left or right turns.
In other instance have you ever awed on the New Year’s Eve wondering how the year has passed by.
I have experienced the above two, unfortunately some people do wonder, as to how they have accumulated so much debt – only realizing it when they don’t have enough money to pay bills.
Most of the choices we make today are not well-chosen, but choosing these choices too often forms a habit- money habit (getting into debt habit). A behaviour that becomes part of who we are- doing things without our conscious effort, only realizing when we are deep in the quicksand.
I believe that there are 3 influences in life that decide what choices we choose, slowly driving us to get into debt.
What did we learn about money and debt growing up: depending on the dynamics at home, we build our belief on money, this is the script that would have been handed over to you by your parents which in turn would have been given to them by their parents.
Money beliefs like,
It’s selfish to have a lot of money
Either we can be rich or happy
Only men in the house should take care of money
Money is the root cause of all evil
God will provide me with what we need
Poor will always have debt and this is common.
To note above are some of the common beliefs that we learn as we grow up, there is no fault of anyone as these are mostly inherited in family and we have always wanted our children to grow up in “better safe than sorry environment”- to keep them safe from life’s extreme situations.
It’s a strong belief embedded in our genes that if our children follow what we have been doing and what their grandparents have been doing they will avoid life’s extreme corners like getting into debt.
From above if some beliefs provide us with a barrier to earn more or save more, and some others like- shopping while feeling unhappy or depressed will put us on auto-drive in getting into debt.
What did the society teach you about money: As we grow up it’s not only the family that we grew up in but also close and distant relatives, our friends, our school and even our neighbours have an impact on our financial situation.
We are social animals, fitting into groups and accepting social hierarchy is a norm.
The behaviour of comparison is ingrained in human genetics, and we always compare with our neighbours, family members and society around us.
Part of our effort in comparing with others makes sure that we are accepted in the society and thereby not exceeding in a society of averages.
If we are living in a poor neighbourhood we would unconsciously make an effort to be poor by believing in myths like there is not enough for everyone or one can only become rich illegally.
We are mostly unconscious to this constant drumming from social life, right from early age.
We accept these beliefs as norm without bringing in the conscious effort in decision-making process.
The voice in your head: If upbringing and society have placed some beliefs in you, the voice in your head is making sure that you believe in it and follow it through.
One day I was watching documentary on remote village, a grandfather and his 10-year-old grandson go to a red ant hill to collect some in a jar. I also learnt that these are quite effective in killing termites.
The old man performs some rituals before collecting. While collecting the ants the boy gets bitten by these ants, unable to endure the pain he runs to get rid of them, while the ants had no influence on the old man.
Later in the night at fire camp, the boy expounds his ordeal of pain from ants biting his legs and hands. The grandfather asks the boy whether he had done his prayers before getting to the ants, not knowing what prayer he should be doing he asks the old man to teach him.
The story ends here, but the important point I want to make it here is, did the ants ever bite the old man as he was grabbing them? or did the old man believed on his prayers so much that he never felt the pain.
I am sure one day the little boy will be the old man who can successfully collect the ants, this has nothing to do with ants, it’s the belief in his head that makes the difference.
The story we tell to ourselves in every financial situation in life, in every situation where we need to make a choice is navigated by the man in your head.
Most of us are unaware of the beliefs that we believe in, either it’s inherited, social or the constant singing in the head, the first step to changing these negative beliefs is to be consciously aware of our beliefs.
As Buddha said, if we live in every moment then the thoughts and beliefs either related to money or anything else in life, that are putting us in auto-drive mode will cease to be auto.
We will regain the power of making the right financial choices by being aware of our feelings, surrounds and empowers us to avoid impulse decisions.
So next time you have this impulse urge to buy anything, pause for a moment, remember you have a choice here, choose the one that liberates you from the bondage of debt.