Creating a Debt-Free Life: How to Break Free of Poverty Consciousness

by Danielle Daniel, LCSW, Doctor of Psychology student, Blue Diamond


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Have you ever wondered why the majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck? Why no matter how much you make in your business you still feel it isn’t enough? I remember starting in doTERRA, earning Fast Start checks and living on a pretty good full-time master’s level salary as a mental health clinician, and still feeling strapped. Being financially free starts in the mind, not just in increasing your income. Breaking free of what I call “poverty consciousness” can happen no matter if you are Elite or Blue Diamond. That’s because it’s a thought process that, once you master it, will allow you to create a debt-free life, no matter your rank or income.

Our perceptions influence our belief system on money, finances, and circumstances. Those beliefs then create our future because our actions are motivated at a non-conscious level from the beliefs we have formed.

I was raised by a single mother and we struggled to make ends meet, living on food assistance and without many luxuries. My mother sat us down each month and taught us to budget, which has been helpful as I have grown up, but I also grew up believing that life was about just barely making ends meet. So, naturally, as I started earning more money, I tied up those finances quickly, binding myself to student loans, car loans, and a mortgage. And, by spending every last bit I had on a trip or shopping, I never truly got out of debt.

Why does this happen? Because our brains are wired to motivate those actions and thoughts that continue to create a financially strapped life.

Breaking free of poverty consciousness or our financial patterns is totally possible. There are two major systems at play in a poverty conscious mindset, and once we understand those systems, we can make a conscious effort to rewire our thinking.

One brain system involved in our belief patterns is called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is a nerve pathway at the base of the brainthat connects the spinal cord, cerebellum, and cerebrum, acting as a filter for all sensory input collected from the external world. It then filters that information and only sends to your conscious awareness those bits of information that are important to you or part of your belief system. So, if your belief system is wired to just live paycheck to paycheck, it will find those cues that keep you in that system of spending or creating debt.

The way to combat this belief system is to:

  1. Become aware of your beliefs about money.
  2. Write down those beliefs.
  3. Create what I call “flip-flop” statements—write in the positive-present tense the antidote of that negative belief. Read it; say it out loud; post it on your fridge, computer, bathroom mirror, etc.; and regularly review it so that your brain encodes new thought patterns. An example of an antidote to your negative beliefs about your financial situation might be: “I live financially free.”

It may feel corny, but this is how beliefs started for us in the first place: we saw, heard, and learned certain belief patterns. So, we must see, hear, and learn new ones if we want to change.

Now, there is another brain system at play that you need to be aware of: the Dorsal Anterior Cingulate Cortex (dACC). The dACC is a small structure in the midbrain that works as a thermostat, regulating our belief system to our comfort zone levels, whether those levels are healthy or not. When we start to behave in a way outside of what we are wired to believe, it sends a conflict signal initiating a risk assessment. This causes stress arousal in the body, triggering increased cardiac reactivity, increased blood pressure, etc. All these responses cause feelings of anxiety, caution, and unfamiliarity, all encouraging motivational behavior to avoid the conflict and go back to the original resting state, or your “homeostasis,” of what you have known, believed, and lived for all these years, healthy or not.

How do you overcome this stress response? The key to creating the new belief system lies in your emotions, not just your thoughts. When emotions and thoughts are strongly rooted in a desire for change, the motivation will be greater than the physiological response, giving you the self-determination to change and overcome this automatic defense system. Emotion is the deepest root of your motivation that can supersede your physiological response.

When you take the three steps I taught you earlier, and say or read your flip-flop statements, visualizing and experiencing what it feels like to be in a state of financial freedom, then it calms the physiological response and fights to root a deeper belief. This powerful exercise is key to liberating you from debt, more so than just earning more money, because your behavior and actions are wired in your belief system. When your brain structures begin to work on behalf of the new belief, you in turn create the debt-free life you truly desire.

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