The Psychology of Money, Prosperity and Wealth

By Kristine Hallbom

What stops people from succeeding financially and having ongoing prosperity in their life?  The answer is generally focused around the belief that financial success is not a possibility. There are many people who have unconscious barriers that prevent them from having the wealth and abundance that they deserve.

If you have limiting beliefs about money at an unconscious level, it will be difficult to move though your financial limitations because your unconscious mind will dampen your efforts to succeed. This is why some people end up living from paycheck to paycheck their whole life–because at some level they don’t believe that they’re capable of doing better.

At a conscious level, most people think they’re doing everything possible to achieve their goals. However, there still might be some unconscious part of them that doesn’t believe they can obtain success. The more a person avoids that unconscious part, the more obstacles will continue to show up in their every day life. That’s the way the mind works.

For example, think of all the people you know who read the think and grow rich books, attend financial seminars, say daily affirmations, and still have money problems. All of these things they’re doing are worthwhile, yet they often don’t get to the “core” of their issue, which usually involves some type of limiting belief.

People have many different unconscious beliefs about money. Some of the more common ones we’ve come across are:

• You have to work hard to make money.
• I will never be rich.
• Having money isn’t spiritual.
• Life is a struggle.
• Money is hard to manage.
• You need money to make money.
• It’s too late in my life to think about getting wealthy.
• I don’t have the magic ingredient that is necessary to be successful.
• I can’t be successful because my parents weren’t successful.

These type of beliefs limit people because they’re looking for the answers outside of themselves, when in reality the keys to prosperity exist within themselves. Wealth is not what a person has. It is a state of mind. The people who succeed in life from a financial perspective have positive beliefs about money, wealth and prosperity. They understand that wealth is an internal experience.

Instead of focusing on all the possible ways to get rich, many people spend a lot of time obsessing about what they don’t have. An interesting pattern develops in which they become angry or resentful over their situation, which creates more limitations and barriers in their lives. It’s so easier to get ahead in life when you’re coming from a peaceful state of mind, versus an angry or resentful frame of mind.

The first step in understanding the unconscious patterning of a person’s financial situation is to explore the deeper nature of how they represent money.

For example, a person with money issues may have had parents who lived in poverty, and they subsequently formed a “Depression Era” mentality. Hence, an unconscious belief was developed that the person will always have to struggle financially because that’s what their parents did. Or they might have had a parent tell them over and over again that they’ll never be successful, and eventually they began to believe it.

It’s very common for children to unconsciously form limiting beliefs around money at an early age. These types of limiting beliefs are referred to as “imprints” in the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

An imprint is basically a memory that is formed at an early age, and can serve as a root for both the limiting and empowering beliefs that we may form as children. Some of the beliefs that we may develop at early ages are not always healthy, and are created as a result of a traumatic or confusing experience that we have forgotten. How we unconsciously and consciously view the world in terms of money is generally based on such beliefs.

Identifying your limiting beliefs is a critical first step. Once you’ve identified what some of those underlying imprints/beliefs are, you can use different NLP and life coaching processes to quickly move through those obstacles, thus allowing you to see and experience all of the financial opportunities that are really available to you.

Beliefs About Possibility

The primary psychological difference between those who do well financially and those who don’t revolves around beliefs about possibility. For example, many people don’t even view financial success as an option. They don’t have the capability to open themselves up to all of the possibilities that are available for achieving prosperity. Often they’ll get stuck in a monthly routine and are unwilling to take risks or try something different because they’re afraid that they’ll end up being worse off than they already are. What these people don’t realize is that it’s common to have to take a step backward in order to move forward.

Many millionaires have gone bankrupt at some time in their life and then in a short time will completely turn their financial situation around for the better. Moreover, many people who start up their own businesses often lose money in the beginning. However, they do this, trusting that their new business will expand to a point where they’re earning a nice salary while collecting a tidy profit.

Not everyone has to take risks or step backwards to get ahead, though it’s important to consciously open yourself up to the idea of what is possible for you. In order to embrace this idea, you must first have the ability to change your daily routine by doing something different. This includes learning how to view your world through the eyes of prosperity and abundance, instead of lack and poverty.

Try this on for a moment:

Think about something that you want and all of the possibilities that you have in achieving it. Ask yourself, “What is possible?”

Now try something different.

Think of something that you don’t have, but that you’d like to have. Think about all the reasons why you don’t have it and how you wish you could have it.

Notice which one of those makes you feel better.

Hopefully, the first statement made you feel better because it was designed to expand your unconscious and conscious frames around wealth and prosperity. It’s amazing what can happen to a person once they change their attitude and beliefs about possibility. Once people begin to shift their thinking, they start seeing results almost instantaneously. The shifts may be small at first, but as they continue to embrace their new way of positive thinking, a lot of magic opens up for them.

For example, many years ago a number of Vietnamese “boat people” immigrated into the United States. Many Americans were concerned about the strain that would be created on welfare and other government services as a result of these people coming into the country. Interestingly, many of the Vietnamese who went into business for themselves ended up doing extremely well. Why is that?

An obvious answer might have to do with the fact that the Vietnamese people came from a country where if they said the wrong thing, they would get shot. Then they came to the United States where the worst thing that could happen was that someone would call them on the phone and harass them because they didn’t pay a bill.

If you come from a world where death is a moment to moment reality to a place where options are endless, then there is no reason not to try everything. Instead of being angry or bitter about having to leave their country, they were grateful to be alive. Instead of sulking in self-pity, many of them adopted a creative attitude that revolved around the question, “What is possible?”

Consequently, when they moved here, two or three Vietnamese families would live in a confined space. They went out and got minimum wage jobs and pooled all of their money together. When they got enough money, they would buy a business and the whole family would start working at the business. Once the business became fairly successful, they would buy a piece of real estate. Then they would buy more real estate, and so on.

For these Vietnamese people, success was an affirmation of what is possible, because everything was possible to them. All they had to do was prioritize what they wanted, and then categorize the different possibilities in achieving. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they stayed positive and kept a laser beam focus on their long-term goal of wealth and financial prosperity. People can do anything they want. The question is: what are they willing to do to get to their possible outcome?

Wealth is a State of Mind

Often people will confuse who they are with how much money they make. Whether someone makes a million dollars a year or $40,000 a year, everyone still has the capability to achieve a certain degree of financial abundance in their life.

For example, when the Nazi’s took over in Germany, there were very many wealthy people in the society who had their lives ripped away from them and they ended up in concentration camps. Viktor E. Frankle or Anne Frank were in situations of the worst poverty, yet they actually had an abundant life.

In Man’s Search for Meaning, author Viktor E. Frankle said that the one thing that a person has that can never be taken away from them is their attitude…

“We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man, but one thing: The last of his freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Frankle, a psychologist, adopted a creative attitude that helped him survive the nightmare of living in a concentration camp. He was able to manifest internal prosperity by exercising his right to do so. This same attitude led him on a path towards achieving and living an abundant life once he got out.

Wealth and Self Worth

When it comes to thinking about prosperity, it’s helpful to understand that it’s a resource that flows through us. We are a conduit for prosperity. Once this is realized, then we start to identify with the fact that we’re the ones who choose how to channel this resource. Viktor Frankle made this distinction in the concentration camps. Every single one of his material possessions were stripped away from him, including his shoes. The only thing he had left, was the ability to believe in himself and to embrace the idea that he was still a good person, despite the fact that everything had been taken away from him. This was an important distinction for Frankle to make, because then having money was no longer a question of his self-worth.

Money doesn’t determine who you are; it’s simply a resource. Having a strong inner sense of self is what is truly important. Money is merely an external element. Once people stop equating their self-worth with money, then the doors of possibility swing open for them because they’re willing to try more things. Once they start feeling better about themselves, they become less fearful and are open to trying something completely different.

It’s a matter of getting clear on your financial goals, and then declaring to yourself, “This is what I want and there are several ways of achieving it. There are several possibilities for making it happen. If something doesn’t work, then I’ll try something else.”

And if the next thing doesn’t work out, then it’s simply feedback that you need to try something else. It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or a terrible person. It simply means that there is something out there that will eventually work and that something is outside of you. You are still the same person on the inside, no matter what.

Measuring one’s self-worth by how much money one has can be devastating. For example, there was a woman who had 17 million dollars set aside for her in a trust fund by her parents. It would pay her out at least $800,000 a year in interest as long as she was breathing. This person found her identity and self worth in the lifestyle that she lived and how much she owned. During one shopping spree, she spent $18,000 in the lingerie section of her local department store.

Most of the actions that she took when it came to spending large sums of money were the result of comparing herself to her sister. The sister was in the same situation; she also had a trust fund that paid out a lot in interest. However, the sister never looked at money as an aspect of her identity. She never determined her self-worth by how much she had.

All it meant to her was that she had something to fall back on if there was ever a problem. She married and started several businesses with her husband. They became extremely successful in their own right and it turned out that after many years, the income from her trust was relatively small compared to the income generated from the businesses they had developed.

Interestingly, the woman who based her identity and self-worth on her pocketbook spent large sums of money to keep up with her sister. She eventually went bankrupt. This is an extreme example of someone who measures their self worth on how much money they have.

The woman’s situation became even more complicated when she started comparing herself with her sister, which is also a statement about her self-worth. It’s common for a person to compare their financial status with someone else and, sadly, this is the root of much of the emotional pain that people carry. People have a tendency to compare themselves with their friends, co-workers, family members and so on. When people compare themselves with someone, what they’re actually doing is making a judgment about themselves and the other person. At some level they’re basing their identity and self worth on external elements.

When someone decides to stop comparing themselves to others, they’ll begin to notice amazing shifts in their life because they’ll be viewing life from the inside looking out. They’ll be internally referenced, which will enhance their self worth and identity because they’ll be determining who they are from their own heart. They’ll no longer give other people the opportunity to determine who they are, because they’ll already know themselves at a very deep and spiritual level. Instead of basing their self worth on external elements like a paycheck, they develop a strong inner sense of self-worth which gives them the courage to try new things-thus expanding their opportunities.

For example, there was a janitor who made only about $3,000 a month. After doing some beliefs work with NLP and financial planning, he decided to start his own business. He began by saving money and then he bought all the supplies that he needed. He kept his regular janitor job, but he took a new cleaning contract on the side. He then got another contract and hired somebody else to help him out. After a period of time he decided to quit his janitor job and started his own cleaning company. He eventually made a tremendous jump in his monthly salary and become a millionaire from his business; and had a sense of freedom that he had never experienced before. 

What is interesting about this story is that the man was still doing janitorial work. What changed was his self-worth. Instead of thinking, “Oh, I’m just a janitor, I can’t do anything else. I’m not smart enough, I’ll never be rich,” he began thinking, “What is possible? What are some ways that I can achieve wealth? Everybody needs someone to come in and clean. Homes need it, schools need it. They’re hiring me to do it, why don’t I just get on the other side of the fence and start up my own business!”

That’s how you open up possibilities. It starts with a dream. Then it’s a matter of turning that dream blueprint into reality. As a person begins to embrace their own self worth and open themselves up to the idea of what is possible, they’ll attract wealth and prosperity into their life. The outer world is truly a reflection of our inner world. If someone is feeling good on the inside, generally it will show on the outside and they’ll draw positive experiences into their life. That’s the way life works.



(1) Hallbom, T. and K. Hallbom, Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, (Beverly Hills, CA: The Holistic Book Project, 1993) Neuro-Linguistic Programming, p. 382.

(2) Hallbom, T., Dilts, R. and Smith, S., Beliefs: Pathways to Health and Well Being, (Metamorphous Press, 1988)