I was always sceptical about the book/movie The Secret. Good luck trying to convince me, a scientist, that I could use my imagination and then ‘poof’ – get rich.
But the more I learned about the brain, the more I realised that visualisation and imagination is a powerful tool to get what you want, with a scientific basis.
When I started studying brain development in children, I became fascinated with a term called neuroplasticity. Before the age of five the brain is very plastic. Not plastic like Tupperware, plastic meaning it is constantly changing. Little brains are in a continuous state of flux. As a child takes in information from their environment, their brain is rapidly creating new circuits and pruning back circuits that are no longer needed. This is one reason why children who have suffered severe neglect often have lasting developmental issues. Their little brains have not had the necessary stimulation needed to develop and grow at the same rate as their peers.
Although the rate of brain plasticity decreases with age, we are also constantly shaping and moulding our brains as adults, in response to our environment.
If you need scientific evidence, consider the important research conducted by the Dunedin Study. This group followed individuals for over 40 years and discovered that antisocial behaviour and some mental disorders require the right mix of genes and environmental circumstance to be expressed. No longer is this a nature versus nurture debate – this study provides evidence that nature and nurture truly work in unison. Evidence that our environment has a large impact on the outcomes of our lives.
This is another reason why it has been said that you should choose your friends very carefully. You are an average of the five closest people to you. Why? Because these individuals are helping to shape your ideas about the world. They are shaping your brain. Surround yourself by those with negative beliefs about money, or those who put you down and you will have a hard time thinking any other way. Surround yourself by those who have a healthy relationship with money and who highlight your strengths and the world is your oyster.
When I identified that my mindset was faulty when it came to money, I decided to use my knowledge of brain plasticity to fix it.
So how did I do this?
It is actually very simple – I altered my environment.
Firstly, I stopped talking about how poor I was all the time, because this information feeds back to our subconscious mind and becomes a limiting belief. Secondly, I started to spend time around people who have become financially successful from the ground up and observed their beliefs about money and the world. When I exercised, I turned my music up and visualised exactly how I wanted my future to be. This led me to my final and most important step. I looked at all of my current limiting beliefs about money and I challenged them.
For example, I held a belief that money was bad and that it was used to do terrible things. I thought that desiring financial security was what led to evil. To challenge this belief, I used the power of online content. Every day for 30 minutes or more, I looked up evidence to the contrary. I read about entrepreneurs who donated large amounts of money to charities that they believed in – people who used their wealth to do amazing things. I fantasised about the good I could do with money. I flooded my mind with good money vibes. Slowly but surely, I created a new thought process in my brain. I started to believe that money is not bad, it is neutral. It is the person holding it who either has good or bad intentions for its use.
Then I sat back and watched my ANZ mobile app, waiting for the money to pour in (jokes, but a little bit serious).
Well it didn’t. I wasn’t getting cheques in the mail, or refunds, or inheriting large sums.
But then I noticed something else happening.
I was having ideas. There was no extra money in the bank but I was thinking differently.
I have always been someone with plenty of entrepreneurial thoughts. But what I didn’t realise, was that my faulty mindset about money was stopping me from acting on any of these ideas. My unconscious fears around what I might have to give up and what I might lose were stopping me from pursuing my vision.
When you start a business, there is a chance that it will fail miserably and you will lose money. When you are stuck in a scarcity mindset about money, this thought is too scary to take the leap. Once I changed this mindset, I had a brand new outlook. Yes, I might lose all my money. But I still have my arms, legs and unique skill set – I’ll just make more of it and try again.
Once my fear was mitigated, I started to investigate my business ideas more seriously and do my due diligence. I started to talk to people and conduct some word of mouth market research.
Something else happened. Without thinking, I sent an email to my Director at work and I told her honestly that I would love to stay in our great office, but that I was not playing to my strengths and I was wasted sitting at a computer all day long. I also mentioned that I needed to be earning more at this stage of my life and listed for her my future plans and current achievements in my role. I asked her to keep me in mind if any positions that fitted this criteria came up in the future. She emailed me back straight away and said she had something in mind and asked me to meet with her the following day…
Visualisation and imagination is not a magic wand to get money in the bank. However, imagining what we want and challenging our limiting beliefs changes our brain. If you can not change your environment, use your imagination to create the environment you want in your mind. Lie in bed each night and spend just ten minutes visualising it. Not because it is going to miraculously appear, but because it may be the push you need when an opportunity presents itself, to face your fears and leap at it.
It’s not magic and it’s no secret, it’s neuroscience.
Next post: Buying Freedom
Much love xx
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