One of the chronic, often devastating conditions I run into nearly everyday is this:

“There’s not enough money out there, it is scarce and hard to come by, and it requires a struggle to get it!”

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about money for the household, money for the business, or grant money for the research lab… there never seems to be enough of it.

This condition can be every bit as serious and life-destroying as chronic health conditions.  It leads to a sort of money-repellancy that is at odds with the surface-level goals that a lot of people state that they want (such as: “I want more money”).  When we compare a want like this to a deeper belief such as “money is scarce,” the belief always wins out in the end. Beliefs are far more powerful than wants.

Let’s take a simple example to illustrate. Say that you’re participating in a scavenger hunt. If the organizers tell you there’s a $100 bill to be found, you will likely believe them unless there’s reason not to. Based on that belief, you’re probably going to search quite hard to find that $100, and many of the participants will not give up until someone finds it.

On the other hand, let’s say you have organizers that like to mess with your mind. They have hidden a $100 bill as part of the hunt, but they didn’t tell anyone about it. How hard is anyone going to work to find that $100? Since nobody believes there’s a $100 bill hidden, the participants aren’t going to search particularly hard for it. It may remain hidden and unfound for a long time, unless the organizers go reclaim it.

That’s the power of belief. The willingness to search for the $100 is in proportion to people’s belief in the possibility that they might find it. This same principle is true in all of our relationships with money:

“The willingness to work to make/find/get the money we desire is in proportion to our belief that it is possible for us to do so.”

I talk to scientists who want more grant funding, all the time. Yet when it comes to doing the things it takes to get it (such as writing a really awesome grant application), there’s all sorts of self sabotage because the belief isn’t there to support the want.

This is true with the entrepreneurs and consultants I work with also. Many of them want a successful endeavor, but can never seem to find the clients to support it – the belief isn’t there.

Money madness

What seems to be missing in these kinds of “money is scarce” worries is the understanding that money is attracted or repelled based on your attitudes about it.

So, if you’re a scientist asking a funder to give you, say, a $1.25 million grant to support your research, and yet you have a negative belief that the money is nearly impossible to actually get, are your efforts going to be the full-out, best possible? Of course not. You’ll likely suffer lots of doubts and fears as you proceed, and that will come across as a not-so-strong proposal.

It’s a condition I have plenty of experience with. My father was a product of the great depression, his formative years during the height of joblessness and fear of the time. As a result, he learned to stockpile and save. That led to things such as having 10 cases of expired cans of tuna sitting around in the basement, ultimately needing to be thrown away… or a thousand pounds of grain in the basement that were fodder for mice.

In his efforts to scrimp and save because of “scarcity,” my father was throwing away money and resources that could have been used for better causes. It’s not that saving up for a rainy day is bad – it’s good. But to expect that bad things are going to happen, that scarcity is normal, is not healthy.

When I was in the height of my own scarcity mentality, I managed to go deeply into debt while earning a six figure salary (most of that debt came from starting a bike shop based on the notion of a scarcity of oil and other resources). I went into debt because I had a bad relationship with money.

I hate money… give me more of it

A lot of people I encounter think of money as a “necessary evil.” Imagine if you had a friend or lover that you thought of that way: “I want you around, but I resent you.”

Not many friends or lovers would stick around if you have that kind of attitude towards them.

Money is no different. If you resent it, and resent the people who have it, do you think it’s going to stick around in your life? There’s no chance. You repel it.

Money is neutral. It can be used for good, or for bad. However, if you want more of it in your life or work, you have to focus on the good aspects, and make friends with it. Otherwise, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get more of it.

The more you focus on “lack of money” the more you’ll experience “lack of money.” If that’s you, why not try a shift, just for a week: look around at all the places money IS, and appreciate how much of it is floating around. Practice shifting your attitude from “it’s really hard to get” to “look how easily it comes to me.”

If you alter your beliefs about it, you’ll be amazed at what a difference that makes over the long term in your ability to find ways that bring it to you. This applies to both money for your own purposes, and money for things you believe in, such as your research that needs grant funding.

One last thing: If you’re currently experiencing money challenges, I suggest that you make an “inventory of money attitudes” to see what you really think about money. Take out a piece of paper and writing utensils, and write “money” at the top. Then, spend 10 minutes just writing whatever comes to mind as you look at that word. To go even deeper with this, write down what you think your parents think about money – what you heard and saw them do around this topic. Because chances are, unless you’ve made a conscious effort to think otherwise, you’ve just adopted their viewpoint! (I know I did).

Once you’re done, review what you wrote, then ask yourself “what do I really believe about money?” and  “are those beliefs about money serving me?” If the answer to the second question is “no” it may be time to start installing some different beliefs in the firmware of your mind.

Dr. Morgan Giddings