Mental Models Are Powerful

Have you ever met with clients who are frustrated because they are failing to make progress toward achieving their most important financial or life goals?

Author S.J. Scott ( writes, “The root cause of the ‘procrastination habit’ comes from our self-limiting beliefs.”  He further explains that self-limiting beliefs are generated by the mental models we hold:

A mental model is developed by your thoughts and is based upon your perception of your surroundings, how something works and the relationships of various elements pertaining to the situation.  It directly correlates with your past experiences.  This is what shapes your behavior or reaction to a particular situation. Your approach to specific tasks, projects or problems is based upon the thoughts or perception that you carry.

Therefore, if you hold a negative perception (even subconsciously) about a specific task or your capabilities, your automatic reaction will be to procrastinate.  Scott explains, “What’s so powerful about mental models is that they include a negative thought, a mental picture, and a negative emotion at the same time.  So overcoming them involves not only reversing negative thoughts, but reattaching a positive emotion to that mental picture.”

As an alternative, “appreciation” is a healthy mental model that focuses on the positive.  However, because of past programming, the appreciative “way of being” may not be an easy transition.  Jackie Kelm, author of Appreciative Living, writes, “Finding what’s right with others and whatever shows up in our lives is a thinking habit that can be learned through experience, but it must be deliberately learned and practiced.”

One way to develop a more positive frame of reference is to change your internal questions.  For example, rather than asking yourself what is going wrong in a given situation, ask instead what is going right.  Kelm also suggests creating a gratitude list in which you write three to five things each day for which you are grateful.  “Over time you will begin to notice the good more naturally.”

In The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist explains that you can also change your thought habits in regard to personal finance.  “If your attention is on the problems and breakdowns with money, or scarcity thinking that says ‘there isn’t enough,’ ‘more is better,” or ‘that’s just the way it is,’ then that is where your consciousness resides.”

As a result, no amount of money will ever be enough to buy the peace and happiness you desire.  The antidote, Twist writes, is appreciation—the conscious thought and intention required to develop mastery in the arena of money and to transform your feelings about your relationship with money.  “In the light of appreciation, your prosperity grows.”

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