Am I Ready to Change My Money Behavior?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s and President’s Day off. February is such a short month that the days just fly by.

I ended my last article saying next I would discuss how we can retrain our brain now that we’ve learned a little bit about how our brain works.

The Model of Behavior Changes

But before I can begin that discussion, we have to talk about a theory called ‘the model of behavior changes’. This is about assessing our readiness and willingness to adopt a new and healthier behavior before we can successfully do it. I can show you how you should retrain your mind but if you don’t have the willingness to make the changes–and they are not always easy–you are not ready. The information will go in one ear and out the other.

In the theory of modeling changes, for us to have healthier and lasting behavior changes, we progress through 6 stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and termination.

When people come to me they’re usually ready for change. If they really aren’t then it’s going to be obvious by their responses after our discussion or by the nature of their follow ups. But some clients have been either contemplating (over-thinking) or trying to ignore making changes to their money behaviors so that by the time they reach out to me they are understandably on the fence. When they’ve exhausted themselves going back and forth, they either progress to the next stage (reach out for help), give up altogether, or continue to stay in the contemplate/ignore stage. After all – ‘ignorance is bliss’ as the saying goes.

So where are you in your model of behavior changes? That must be determined. Are you still contemplating or are you ready to move on and make lasting changes in your life? The changes will make a big difference but we’re at a standstill until you’ve worked out where you are right now.

(Check out Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change Model for further details:

Money and The Brain

Happy New Year everyone!

This month’s blog is a little behind schedule but I’m going to focus on the positive which is that it’s HERE!

I had a wonderful holiday with family and friends and am looking forward to continuing this money coaching journey with you in 2016. Thanks for the support and wonderful feedback.

The Brain

Retrain Your Brain

Once upon a time (in the 70’s) a group of Cambodian women were brought to the U.S. following the savage genocide that took place in their country. In a new culture, they were safe but they couldn’t speak or read the language. They couldn’t make sense of bus signs to go anywhere. They weren’t familiar with American food or its currency so they had difficulties even with simple tasks such as shopping and cooking. It was too much. These women had seen things that their minds couldn’t accept and with these new challenges added on to their already traumatized minds they started going blind.

Eventually some were declared psychosomatically blind, no sight whatsoever.

So what does this have to do with money? A lot. Basically, everything. Money is a core survival issue and that’s true even if a person grows up with affluence. We know without money we cannot have food and shelter, we would struggle to survive.

And what controls our money instincts? Our brain. From inception it protects us with its reactions to a flood of chemical compounds. Neurotransmitters send messages from the brain to the body – thus a baby will cry when it’s hungry.

Stress hormones kick in if we’re anxious or uncomfortable. Adrenaline takes over when there is a real threat and the brain develop its fight-or-flight response. These patterns of reactions are firmed up unconsciously in the brain between the ages of 2 and 12. According to neuroscientists, this is when most of our brain development occurs.

As young adults, we learn about money with our primitive brain which is instinctive. That’s why our life-long financial behaviors are more emotional and reactive than rational and logical. The brain’s mainframe is in place from an early age, learned from examples set by our families and environment and picked up unconsciously as our core survival skill. And money, remember, is a survival issue.

So where are we as adults when we handle money? It depends on that past. To know where we stand requires us to examine and explore our histories. If we are unable to, we will continue to lack awareness and have no control over our finances. Most people handle money very well, but many do not and the problem dominates their life. Why is this? Because each of us react to stress or hardship differently. Our personality plays a factor in this. A naturally more extroverted person reacts to stress or hardship in a way that’s different from the introvert. Perhaps a more outgoing child is able to confront and deal with the stress through their own learning capability and self-confidence when the flight or fight response is triggered. But a reserved child facing the same stress may chose the flight option and will quickly withdraw. This flight response only grows stronger as does the fight response depending on how often they’re encountered and how successful the outcome. From these childhood experiences we set a pattern of behaviors that continues to run our adult lives. When we are able to confront and accept what our early life imprinted on us, good and bad, then we can start to redirect our brains and behaviors.

In the next blog we will examine how you can redirect your brain and behaviors in order to achieve better money management skills.

(By the way, when those Cambodian women were taught English, could read bus signs, and got acquainted with our vegetables, they could see.)

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