A financial “comfort zone” can suck, and be a place that causes stress or anxiety about money.
Humans are funny creatures because we will go back to what is familiar (even if we hate it) because we know we can survive it. There is part of your brain that is there to help you survive in the wilderness, in the cold, without electricity, lattes or wi-fi…
I call it the critter brain. It is basically a freakin’ alligator that gets agitated when you move out of the CZ.
When it comes to money, this alligator does an awful lot of damage. Here you are trying to improve your life and get out of the zone where money is stressful and this alligator freaks out and makes a mess. It takes some serious effort to trick it into having a new and improved CZ.
One of my clients likes to have $5,000 in savings. If her account dips below $5,000, it sets her alligator on edge and she will aggressively cut back expenses until her savings is back to $5,000. She HATES to use money when she has less than $5,000 saved because she knows the alligator will lose it and she will feel anxiety.
The same client has trouble if the account goes past $5,999. The alligator gets uncomfortable again, which seems crazy because having more in savings should make her feel more comfortable, but we are working with an evolutionary trait not designed to THRIVE. It’s only purpose is to help us SURVIVE. See the difference?
So the same anxiety happens and now the anxiety causes her to get rid of the money. She finds “emergencies” for it. She spends on things she would never consider if the account was at $4999, and she works against herself until the money in her account is back inside her CZ.
The moral of the story is…
Controlling your alligator is uncomfortable AND possible. Lets say she decides that she wants to be “rich” – to THRIVE. For her to get there, she needs to have $10,000 in her savings account. Her alligator will cause a ruckus for a while until it adapts to its new CZ. The alligator only knows it can survive with $5,000. It’s never survived with $10,000 before. This is unfamiliar and, therefore, dangerous.
The first step in controlling the self-sabotage caused by your “critter brain” is to be aware of it. The alligator lives deep in your subconscious and is pretty sneaky. No one ever says to themselves, “I think I will sabotage my goals today by finding ’emergency’ expenses.” It just happens.
One thing I suggest for clients is to increase your comfort zone consciously. For example, if you find your comfort zone is $0 in savings, start by saying $250. Once you reach this goal, increase your $0 again until your goal is your new “$0”. If you are lucky enough to have a windfall of cash for some reason, be aware of your alligator’s attempts to get back into your CZ. Calmly remind yourself that having money in savings feels good and get comfortable there!
If you want to be “RICH”, whatever that means for you, know that it will be uncomfortable for a while because our brains are meant to keep us ALIVE. This is part of our primal survival instinct.
Some of the work I do with clients to to recognize the way we self-sabotage our higher aspirations and then to help them stop doing it. Clients then begin to realize the THRIVE is possible.
If you are curious to see how I can help you, we can schedule a quick phone call at talkwithbrie.com