Will Smith, a favorite actor, once said: “Money and success don’t change people, they just amplify what is already there.” Basically, if you struggle with money issues, making more money won’t solve them. If anything, it will simply exacerbate the problems.
When I first started making really good money, I didn’t feel abundant because I was completely unconscious about what I was spending money on. Plus, my willingness to put other people before myself was simply amplified with more money. People thought I was being generous, and so did I. But this was a pattern of trying to get something from other people that I wasn't giving myself.
When I went through a transition where very little money was coming in, I noticed that no one was as generous with me as I had been with them. A lot of my “friends” disappeared or moved on. However, I started to realize that I actually needed relatively little money to survive. Ultimately, I realized that the ways I had spent money in the past were not serving me.
I used this period of my life to decide how I wanted my money to function in my life. And even in the midst of financial hardship, I knew my mindset needed to change. Here are the steps that helped me move away from struggling with money and into a financial relationship that wouldn’t be dysfunctional.
1. Accept Where You’re At
So much money struggling happens not because people can’t pay their bills, but because they resist their current situation — they feel like it isn’t where they “should” be. Everything becomes easier once you let go and say, “This is where I am at right now. It might not be where I want to be, but it is a temporary situation and I can handle it.”
2. Stop Worrying
Worrying is compulsive, and people worry about money regardless of how much they have. People who are struggling to make ends meet think they’ll stop worrying when they have more money, but it never happens. You have to choose to cut off the worry habit before you have more money. When I catch myself worrying, I ask myself, “Can I do anything about this right now?” If the answer is no, then I move on. I have found this to be the best way of combatting financial anxiety.
3. Stick to the Present Moment
It’s important to stay in the present and be honest with yourself when times are tight. Ask yourself, “Is it true, in this moment, that I don’t have enough money to eat / pay a bill / etc.?” You may be pleasantly surprised by the answer. And, if not, know that things can change in the future. Perhaps I couldn’t pay a bill when I wanted to, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t pay the bill at all.
4. Trust the Future and Yourself
When we’re in the midst of struggle, we tend to blame ourselves. We think that it’s all our fault and that we’re failures. Ironically, these are the moments when we need to be gentle with ourselves! If you can consistently maintain the attitude that “this current state is only temporary,” then you’ll be able to continue to move forward with the steps you need to change your financial outlook.
5. Look for the Growth
When my money struggles grew especially frustrating, I would ask myself, “What growth am I achieving from this current situation?” Invariably, the answer had to do with valuing myself more and building healthier relationships with those around me.
Want to stop the money fight? You need to get clear. What’s foggy in your financial world? You can’t accept it, make changes, and move forward until you’re crystal clear about what is happening now. Only then will you recognize the situations that cause worry or struggle and how you can respond differently in those moments.
Mindy Crary is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.