What is mindfulness:
It is the basic and innate human ability to be self-aware at the physical, emotional and mental levels; and remain detached from what we experience at these levels.
What are the benefits of mindfulness:
- Enhanced wellbeing
- We become more effective
- Assists with behaviour and attitude changes
- Reduced stress
- Improves focus
- Improves the ability to be non-reactive
Being mindful has so many benefits and these include being kinder to ourselves, which ultimately leads to better self-talk, improved positivity and gives us more sense of choice rather than defaulting to our habitual patterns. When we replace habits that no longer serve us with positive habits, we have the power to change our patterns, behaviours, attitude and ultimately our life.
Mindfulness can be applied to absolutely any area of your life so why would we not use its benefits to improve our financial position. We have the ability to view our finances more positively and this in turn provides the opportunity to improve our relationship to money and improve our management of it. Having a great relationship with money is something to aspire to, as just like your relationship to yourself, it will be long lasting. It’s a relationship that will last your lifetime so if you can reduce the stress associated with money and put you in a space of confidence so that you feel supported by your money it will without a doubt, improve your overall feeling of wellbeing.
Applying mindfulness principles to money management
The first step to creating a great relationship with your money is to develop some awareness of how you currently feel, act and respond to managing your money. I would encourage you to know your money, be intimate with your money, be grateful and appreciate of your money.
Becoming mindful of your behaviours and patterns around money will lead you to understand how and why you feel the way you do about money. There are going to be some ways in which you interact with your money that make you feel good and others that make you feel less so. Embrace the positive stuff and feel good about it. Acknowledge your strengths and give yourself credit for all that you do well with your money.
Being kind to yourself whilst also acknowledging the things that make you feel a bit funky in relation to money is important. Where you can identify ways in which you would like to change some of your behaviours and patterns, just notice and acknowledge it. There is absolutely no point in criticising, shaming, or guilting yourself for these patterns. A key point to being mindful around money is being gentle with your approach and simply looking for opportunities to develop new strategies, habits and patterns that are going to make you feel good about your relationship to money.
Directed thinking is a key skill derived from mindfulness which gives you the ability to be aware of a thought that doesn’t serve you positively and to redirect that thought. For example, if you catch yourself thinking “I’m terrible with money” you could change this to something more empowering such as “I’m learning and developing new skills, that make it easier to manage my money”. The ability to catch yourself as you think a negative thought, observe it (don’t judge yourself) and redirect your thought to something more supportive, this is what mindfulness is all about. The result of this is the ability to respond rather than react. Many of us, operate on autopilot and we react to certain stimulus based on our previous history, so our reaction may be extreme or exaggerated. Whereas, if we are choosing our thoughts and are consciously responding, rather than reacting, we are making a choice rather than letting our mental patterns dictate our responses.
Mindfulness tools for everyday use
There is undoubtedly a connection between mind and body. If your finances have you in a state of worry and doubt this is going to translate to stress and anxiety in your body. Mindfulness as a practice offers an array of tools to add to the kit. All are valuable but you might find that you have some personal favourites. Here are a few ideas:
Gratitude journal – show appreciation for all that your money currently buys you. Review your bank statements and write down all the wonderful things that your money has afforded you. It could have been a meal out with your loved ones, or simply paying the power bill which provided a home and cozy home for you.
Breathwork – if you are feeling a little wound up about your finances (or any other situation) don’t forget to breathe. Taking long, slow breaths through the nose and out of the mouth is known to have a positive physiological impact on you, your mind and body.
Movement – taking a walk in nature or even just around the block to clear the mind and lift the mood is always worthwhile. Focusing on the positives in life is a gift of mindfulness.
Meditation – developing a meditation practice is known to improve the ability to quieten the mind not only whilst on the mat but also in everyday life which will only assist in responding, rather than reacting.
Money Mantras (affirmations) – why not make some bold and positive statements that lift your spirits during the day. Saying “I am supported by money” feels a lot more positive than many of the other thoughts that sometimes run through our heads.
Having the ability to manage your mindset around money is a skill to work on but given the lifelong relationship you have with your money, it’s worth investing the time and energy in developing these skills so that you can live a life of gratitude, enjoyment, wellness, and positivity when it comes to money matters.