I talk to a lot of people about how to change their debt situation, sometimes just in passing, and sometimes we can really get in depth if they really want serious changes to their financial life that will eventually change their debt situation forever.
But one thing I’ve found when talking to people about change and debt is that many times they already know what they need to do to change their debt situation, but they’re just not doing it.
They haven’t turned their head knowledge into action that produces results.
Why is that?
Why is Change Hard?
It’s because human beings are resistant to change. Every part of our being is resistant to doing new things that go against what we’ve been doing on a regular basis and feels comfortable to us.
For instance, If you start working out for the first time or you change your workout routine to one that is different than what you’ve been doing, what happens? You get sore the next day, and that soreness can last for days, making you resistant to doing it again.
But in the long run, you know that changing your exercise habits will eventually lead to good benefits such as better health and weight loss, and you know that if you stick with it will eventually get easier.
Your Brain Resists Change
It’s the same way when it comes to changing your views and your habits with money. When your brain sees change coming, it’s very resistant. Your brain will sabotage you every step of the way when you’re trying to get out of debt, begin budgeting, and start a new financial life.
As soon as any obstacle shows itself, your brain wants you to keep doing what you’ve always done. It wants you to buy those pretty, pretty shoes or that 70 inch 3D TV with the credit card because that’s what you’ve always done. Doing what you’ve always done brings your brain pleasure and comfort (but only for a short time until the credit card bill comes). Your brain is actively resistant to new changes even when you know those changes are good for you in the long run.
This is because way back in the depths of the more primitive parts of your brain, change is perceived as a dangerous thing.
But at the front of your brain is this wonderful thing called the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is the part of your brain that can help you overcome that little emotional child in the back of your brain that wants it all and wants it now.
So when you’re trying to change your spending habits, get out of debt, save money, or any other thing you need to change to make your financial life better, you have to make a conscious effort to kick that frontal lobe into gear.
When change is needed in your life and you know it, your mind becomes an epic battleground, and the competitors are the more primitive areas of the brain dealing with emotion (you could call this your inner child) and the more logical frontal lobe that’s more responsible for reasoning (your inner adult).
These two areas battle it out constantly for supremacy, but if you want positive change to take hold in your financial life, you have to consciously use that frontal lobe to overcome the emotional child that’s inside all of us to make those financial choices that you know will benefit you in the long run.
Changing Debt Habits
When you see that cool electronic gadget that connects you to 10,000 of your closest friends and cooks dinner for your family all for 3 easy payments of $39.95) you have to use that frontal lobe that God gave you and overcome that child deep inside your brain that is reactive instead of proactive, that wants all pleasure but has no plan. You have to take a step back from the “isn’t this cool, I really want it now” emotional reaction and use your frontal lobe reasoning to ask questions like “Do I really need this? Is this really going to benefit to me in the long run?” and “Is this something I can afford without going into debt?”
When you begin using that frontal “adult” part of your brain and consider your actions before your inner child has a chance to react, you can change your habits, your finances, and your life.
So when you feel that inner child welling up inside of you saying “I don’t want to pay off my debt, that’s no fun!”, start thinking about WHY you’re trying to change your financial life.
Start thinking about the reduced stress level because you have no payments hanging over your head. Think about the financial freedom it will bring and how it will allow you to have more options in life. Think about how it will change your family tree.
Let the adult win.