A Mess Free Life may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
You’ve heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
We also know plenty of people who live their lives in insanity.
Maybe you can relate too?
Perhaps you’ve made the same mistake over and over again and even feel you should have learned your lesson by now.
The other evening I was discussing with my friends her most recent love problem.
She’s had a string of terrible relationships over the last twenty plus years I’ve known her. She picks the same kind of man over and over again. In the end, they are always terrible choices, and she ends up playing out the same issues with each one.
This got me thinking about the issue of choice.
Clearly she has made a few bad decisions with regards to her love life. In essence, she has created a “pattern of bad decisions” and unfortunately she hasn’t yet come to this realization despite her friends trying to point this out.
Just like the bad choices we make in love, the same can be true about our relationship with money.
When You Repeat The Same Money Mistakes
Anyone can have a short-term financial situation that puts them behind the eight ball due to extenuating circumstances — sickness, a job loss or a failed business.
These are understandable, and we can quickly see how these types of events can wreck havoc on someone’s finances.
But when our financial situation and the choices we make continue to put us in a precarious situation, when money issues crop up over and over again or when the same financial predicament grows more and more destructive, an unhealthy pattern of actions with money exists.
Financial struggles exist because of ongoing negative patterns in our relationship with money –not because of situations or circumstances.
Look, we all have patterns. I love to sit in the same spot at dinner; I feel out of place if I sit somewhere else. You probably can think of patterns of behavior that you stick within your own life.
These types of habits are fine as long as they don’t cause harm.
But when our habits are negative and harmful to our best interest, they can be a great source of unhappiness and self-destructive behavior.
Some financially self-destructive patterns include:
- Stuffing unopened mail in places where you won’t see it
- Not paying bills on time
- Never paying off credit card balances in full
- Repeated arguments with loved ones about money
- Feeling of worry, dread and despair regarding money
- Ignoring bank statement and investment summaries
- Feeling like you will never get out of the hole
Of course, this list is not exhaustive as many other financially self-destructive behaviors exist. If you are engaging in any of these or other self-destructive behaviors, then it’s time to do something about it.
One thing I know from my own experience is how much I suffered due the patterns of behavior I engaged in. Once I learned how to change my thoughts and actions regarding money, my relationship with money changed too.
Naming it is the first step and taking action is the second.
Here’re a few tips to help you change your behavior and start moving towards greater financial stability.
1. Figure Out What This Mistake Is Doing For You
We don’t always do the right thing, but rarely do we do random things.
That means that whatever you’re doing that you need to stop, you’re doing for a reason. Do some soul searching to find out what that reason is. Are you overspending to fill an emotional void? Maybe you’re avoiding opening up your bank statements because your self-esteem takes a hit?
Again, whatever the answer is for you, bring it to light so that you can start dealing with it.
2. Assume Responsibility But Don’t Dwell
We all make mistakes and taking responsibility for our choices is a good thing. Dwelling on them isn’t.
In our minds, bad choices usually equals a bad person: “I’m such an idiot for overspending again,” or “Only a complete moron would get into debt again after working so hard to pay it off.” You need to rid yourself of these negative self-narratives and start thinking of yourself as a good person who made a mistake.
Why does this matter? Because calling yourself names only traps you in a negative cycle. It prevents you from believing you have the ability to do better, and it can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy that causes us to make the same mistakes all over again. Your bad decisions don’t define you as a person. We are not our choices.
3. Look To The Future
It’s simply not enough to vow to do better; you must put the goal into action.
Developing actionable steps will set you up for success and give you a task you can start doing immediately to improve your financial situation.
Yes, self-reflection is good because we learn from our past mistakes, but at some point, you have to stop looking backward and start looking forward.
4. Make One Small Change Fast
If you want to pay down debt, you can immediately find ways to cut costs. Then you can put that savings directly towards your credit card debt.
Keep repeating this step because significant changes occur one small step at a time.
5. Accept Yourself for Who You Are
Be honest about who you are, the mindset and assumptions that drove you to make the wrong decisions. Once you do that, you’ll find it easier to make those changes to your attitudes and habits.
Mistakes will happen. But it’s how you learn from those mistakes and move on from them that help to define your financial stability in the long run.