Recently somebody told me she wanted to change her financial circumstances for the better. This is exciting – the best kind of change is one that leads to improved comfort, abundance and joy. My friend wants exactly these things, but there’s a catch.
She wants these changes now and while I am sure she will accomplish her goal, I am not sure it will happen quickly. You see, desire for change is one ingredient, but she also has to shift her actions AND thoughts. Changing the way you do things is manageable, but changing the way you think is the real work and what makes the change permanent.
Many people believe they have no control over their thoughts. In a way they are right, but it is not black and white because choice plays a role. I’m sure you are wondering how. I will tell you through a metaphor I heard years ago.
Thoughts are like birds and your mind is like a tree. You don’t have control over which birds land on your branches. Birds that are helpful will land and so will harmful birds. Now, your mind is a very special tree in that it only permits certain birds to build nests. These are the birds you give attention to – that is where choice comes in. You choose which ones you give attention to and focus on. As I often say, “where focus goes, energy flows.” As the energy of a particular bird grows, it attracts the attention of its flock, because as you also know, “birds of a feather, flock together.” So now you have a full flock of a certain type of bird harnessing your attention to build some palatial nests.
What kind of bird did you give this power to? Did you pick a singing blue jay or a sulking vulture? The choice was, is, and always will be yours.
This is where my friend is stuck. For example, she understands budgeting and the need to save money and these actions will serve her well. Over time they will also help her change the way she thinks about money. However, for fast change, she needs to give attention to thoughts that better suit her goals. When she speaks, these are the things I hear.
- I can’t afford that.
- Who would spend that much money on a [car/watch/purse]?
- I don’t make enough money.
- I don’t have money to fix things that are broken.
I encourage her, and anybody who is carrying such heavy thoughts, to rephrase these comments so that they indicate an abundance mindset. Instead of the sentences above, replace them with the following.
- How can I afford that?
- People value things differently. I value xyz and want to spend my money on that.
- I am grateful I have income and know I will never make less than I do today.
- I want to fix my broken things and will do so as soon as I can.
It is easy to replace one thought for another. The hard part is believing it is your choice and then policing your thoughts so that you know when a replacement is needed. Also consider surrounding yourself with people who think about a subject in the manner you want to and find books that support your new way of thinking. So remember – changing your actions is great but changing your mind is the ultimate accomplishment.