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Let’s make 2013 the year we address financial self-sabotage.

by:
Laurie Campbell

Allow me to ring in the New Year with a brief, but vitally important, lesson in financial self-awareness.

In matters of personal money management, psychology plays a huge role. This we know from decades of experience in credit counselling here at Credit Canada Debt Solutions. The behaviour involving how people spend and save is symptomatic of deep-seated thoughts and attitudes developed from earliest youth. Such thoughts and attitudes – if they are bad – can grow and solidify over time, creating financial havoc in people's lives. For many, the trouble never ends because the afflicted have no psychological awareness of what it is that’s driving them.

We call this financial self-sabotage at Credit Canada Debt Solutions. It’s a subject I've spoken about in this space before, and I’d like to revisit it again as 2013 gets going because it is so very important for people to understand the invisible psychological powers that can work to make lives financially miserable – powers that will continue to bring trouble until matters are resolved in fully conscious ways.

I’ll start by defining my terms.

At some time or other, most of us have heard someone express the term “sabotage.” Initially, it conjures images from thriller novels or movies about spying and war where some secret plan can hamper some effort or cause. The “saboteur” is the person behind the plan. He works from the shadows to carry out his subversive agenda. But you know, saboteurs are not found only in books and movies. We walk among them everyday. In fact, you might even be one of them.

I’m talking here about self-saboteurs in the context of personal money management. They are people who – without even being aware of it most of the time – sabotage their own financial well being by acting in ways that are contrary to logic and profitable self-interest. It’s a psychological condition that, once recognized, can be dealt with in ways that make for improved financial literacy and a far better approach to money and personal finance.

Studies by organizations such as Credit Canada Debt Solutions have shown that there are undeniable, powerful emotional components to the handling, saving, and spending of money. Depending on factors of emotional control, some people can stick to a budget and manage their money, their credit, and their debt objectively and intelligently. But there is also a large segment of the population whose behaviour, beliefs, and habits appear to work in direct competition with sound financial decision making.

In essence, people in this segment actually work to sabotage their own financial success, either deliberately or without conscious awareness of their own actions and the repercussions of those actions. To be clear, these are not individuals who have fallen into financial difficulty due to a sudden crisis such as job loss, illness/disability, marital breakdown, and the like. I mean only those people who repeatedly create financial chaos in their lives, especially at times when life’s prospects look brighter and more hopeful.

The financial self-saboteur is a curious case study inasmuch as he or she is not usually lacking in rationality and mental skills. Rather, the self-saboteur is someone who - through the influence of deep-seated, unresolved emotional complexes – cannot bring rational resources and mental capabilities to bear on finances. Investigations into this process have shown that self-saboteurs appear to be following habitual thought patterns  - or inner scripts - that continually promote negative thoughts in the context of a “victim” mentality.

Here are few examples of how inner scripts of the victim mentality roll out:

“Why should I create a budget if I don’t have enough money to budget with in the fist place?”

“The cost of living is too high these days. Things aren't as cheap as they use to be. It’s too hard to make ends meet.”

“It’s because of creditors that I’m in this trouble. The companies just keep sending me applications, then raise my credit limits without telling me. They made me to spend more than I wanted to.”

“I work long hours, so that’s why I can’t keep up with my utility bills. That’s also the reason why my phone was cut.”

“I’m too busy. I just don’t have time to read financial books or learn about retirement planning.”

Over a lifetime of following the same inner scripts, self-saboteurs have convinced themselves that their financial life is beyond their control and that their financial fate is controlled only by external influences. Thus, the path to overcoming financial self-sabotage is clear. Old inner scripts must be set aside; new positive attitudes towards money must be developed. Individuals must set aside childish notions of being victims and at last take full responsibility for their own actions, their own fate, and their own psychological growth.

For many of those who suffer, of course, this is easier said than done; radical psychological change is often difficult, if not impossible, to achieve on one’s own. But that is why there are compassionate professionals on hand to help. Among them, qualified credit counsellors and, if the need be great enough, skilled therapists.

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