Pavlina+

Newsletters and Podcast Transcripts


Are Your Feelings Pushing Money Away?

May 25th, 2012 by Steve Pavlina

A few nights ago I was at a party with some friends in a gorgeous high-rise condo here in Las Vegas. While admiring the spectacular views of the Vegas Strip and its overabundant lights, one friend and I got to talking about passive vs. active income. We'd each endured periods of being broke and worked our way up, leveraging the power of passive income. He started on this path much sooner than I did, so he's much further along today. He noted that many years ago he was earning about $600K per year as a pro speaker. Then he said something like, "But I knew I wasn't going to get ahead making only $600K a year." He pushed himself to go beyond that level. Today he can earn $250K in a weekend.

Internally I was chuckling to myself since he reminded me of the strategy I'd used in the past whenever I wanted to boost my income significantly. I had to redefine my relationship to money.

Is $600K a lot of money? To one person it will seem so. To another person it's only a modest amount.

If an amount seems like a lot, we tend to associate it with challenges and obstacles, thereby pushing it away from our everyday reality. Initially this may be due to the practicalities of what we can and can't afford, but over time we can develop an emotional connection to certain numbers. Even when we can afford something, it can feel like we can't, and so we slow down and slip back into our comfort zones.

Financial Relativity

This morning a guy came to my house to give me an estimate for some repairs. He showed me the work that needed to be done, and then I asked him how much it would cost. He nearly cringed and said, "Well, unfortunately it's going to be a lot." In the back of my mind, I'm wondering how many thousands of dollars it's going to cost and how many others I'll need to ask for estimates. Then he tells me it will cost $680, including parts and labor. I felt relieved that it was so little and agreed to it right away. It wasn't even worth the time to get other estimates.

If this same scenario had played out 15 years ago, when my income was much lower, I probably would have cringed at the amount. I remember cringing when I had to pay a $500 bill for auto repairs around that time. "Oh no… why does it have to be so much?" Back then, such a bill gave rise to feelings of loss and stress. Today a similar amount produces a feeling of relief: "That's all? No problem!"

Suppose your car breaks down. You take it in for repairs, and the mechanic tells you it will cost quite a lot to fix it. You ask how much, and he says it will cost you $6 total. You'd probably feel relieved. You might figure he was joking with you. That same effect happens as you increase your income. Amounts that once seemed large will actually feel a lot smaller. What once seemed like a large expense almost becomes a joke.

Remember how you felt about money when you were a kid? I remember that when I had $50, I felt totally rich. I could buy a whole bunch of Star Wars action figures with that much. How cool is that? These days it wouldn't feel quite as exciting to have only $50.

Of course there are practical reasons why certain amounts of money seem significant. It makes sense to avoid spending more than you earn. But these logical associations also give rise to emotional associations. We not only think that certain sums are large; we feel the difference too.

If you receive one check in the mail for $5 and another one for $5000, do you experience a different emotional reaction upon seeing each check? Is this pure logic at work? You may have your logical thoughts about these amounts, but your emotional responses are triggered automatically.

Changing Your Relationship to Money

The good news is that you can consciously change your relationship to money. Money is a passive participant in this relationship, so you're free to reassess and redefine the terms whenever you want.

A simple way to do this is by taking the feelings you already have towards certain sums of money, and then re-link them to different sums.

Sit down, close your eyes, and imagine opening an envelope with an amount that seems fairly routine. Perhaps it's an amount you'd normally expect to receive, such as your usual paycheck. Notice what that feels like. It's not overly exciting. It's just a normal, every occurrence.

Now multiply the amounts you used for the first visualization by 10. Repeat the visualization by imagining the original sum you used, and then do your best to stick with that feeling as you visualize the amount on the check flipping back and forth between the old number and the new number.

So if you once felt ho-hum when imagining a check for $50, your goal is to create that same ho-hum feeling when you imagine getting a $500 check. Load up the feeling you associate with the $50 check, and then imagine the amount flipping back and forth between $50 and $500.

Flip the amounts quickly at first, about one cycle per second. Then slow down the rate of flipping, and decrease the amount of time that the original number appears. Keep decreasing it till you're locked onto the new amount, but it still gives you the same feeling as the original amount.

After you've spent several minutes on this, you should be able to imagine receiving a check for the new amount, and it will trigger the feelings that you once associated with a sum that's 10x lower.

You can repeat this exercise by visualizing a bill, your bank balance, etc., and then shifting those associated feelings to sums that are 10x larger. So if you feel comfortable having $5000 in the bank, create those same feelings of comfort with $50,000 in the bank. You want that $50,000 sum to feel normal, not overly exciting or unrealistic. Too much excitement will push it out of your comfort zone — and out of your reality.

While it may seem like freaking out about a large bill or getting excited about a big check is a reasonable thing to do, these feelings push you beyond your comfort zone. You undoubtedly have a strong tendency to stay inside your financial comfort zone; it doesn't feel good to spend too much time outside of it. But it's possible to move up a financial tier by changing the monetary amounts that define the edges of your comfort zone. You make it possible to receive more by first getting comfortable with the idea of receiving more.

In Law of Attraction language, this is equivalent to becoming a vibrational match for receiving more money. Instead of pushing that experience away by associating it with emotions that are outside of your comfort zone, you can bring these amounts into your comfort zone. This makes it easier to take the actions that will lead to those bigger checks. You can create the expectation that this is a normal experience for you, which makes you a better match for receiving it. I've used this approach very successfully.

Personally I find it very rewarding to jump up another tier in income. It's not about the money per se. It's about exploring a new world of opportunities and experiences that were previously unaffordable. Experiencing different income levels adds more variety to life. It also makes it easier to appreciate each level for its unique lessons, challenges, and joys. Being in jail taught me to appreciate my freedom. Being broke taught me to enjoy the beach. With a little more money, I began to appreciate that I could afford high-quality organic produce. With even more money, I fell in love with travel.

If you've been feeling bored with your current income level, perhaps it's time to move up a notch and gain access to new experiences. I'm happy to help you do this as I continue to blog about passive income. I'll be continuing this blogging series for many more weeks since there's still a lot more to cover. But for now, use the ideas I shared above to begin shifting your comfort zone. Start getting comfortable with the idea of earning more money. Don't push it away with too much excitement or drama. Try to reach the point where it begins to feel normal to you, so you believe and expect you can get there.