You know those parts of your life that seem stuck in a rut? Instead of taking action, you’re likely tolerating the static situation. Your rut might be about your diet or fitness level. Perhaps it’s a particularly challenging relationship. It might even be intangible, like increasing your self-confidence. We all have these areas we wish we could change.
For a long time, my rut was about money. Maybe that’s you, too.
Many times these ruts last decades, but it’s difficult to take the steps to rid yourself of the habits creating the issue. So why aren’t you able to change?
Recently, I interviewed Cheryl Hunter on an episode of the Profit Boss Radio podcast, my show about how women are generating successful businesses and lives. Cheryl had some unexpected answers as to why many women spend years living in quiet desperation, instead of thriving.
In her teens, Cheryl was the victim of a terrible crime — abducted, drugged, sexually abused, and left for dead. Men had lured her away from safety by promising to make her a model. Later, despite the traumatic incident, Cheryl actually did go on to become a professional model. And if that were the end of the story, it would still be a remarkable one!
But, Cheryl has built a truly inspiring life. She transitioned from modeling into acting and screenwriting, and in the process, realized she needed to do some inner work too. She had a hard time shaking her feelings of self-blame and worthlessness left over from her abduction. Cheryl worked on uprooting those beliefs and supplanting them with new, empowering beliefs. She also began researching the common factors in people who create lives of meaning and contribution. From that research, she became a recognized expert in resilience training, as well as an internationally acclaimed speaker, coach, and consultant. Cheryl developed an educational framework that she and her team now teach to individuals, organizations, and businesses located in every corner of the world.
I found three key takeaways from my conversation with Cheryl; you can listen to her entire interview here.
- We Are Programmed by Nature for Survival, Not for Flourishing
We are equipped by nature to “take a licking and keep on ticking.” And there’s no doubt that surviving is an accomplishment of its own. Cheryl’s story and the stories of so many other women who survive abuse are a testament to that accomplishment. But the skills we learn to survive trauma or ongoing abuse — or even just to make it through the workweek — are not the skills and behaviors that lead us to achieving our full potential.
Take a moment and assess your own situation: Where in your life are you “just surviving”?
- Sustained Happiness Is an Ongoing Creative Activity
Cheryl notes that most negative thinking is based on survival instincts. This is why self-talk is most often negative. No matter how hard we work at being positive, it’s extremely difficult. We weren’t programmed that way. That’s why looking at happiness as a creative activity is so powerful.
Every person has the capacity for creativity. Developing it just takes some effort. No matter your level of talent, if you’re willing to work at bettering yourself, you grow your creative capacity.
As the adage goes, “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” If you love what you do, work seems more like play. And even if you’re trying to master something you don’t love — like your finances — envisioning the outcome lessens the drudgery and makes it feel like a labor of love.
- You Can Reprogram Yourself to (Financially) Thrive
In our interview, Cheryl compares habitual negative thoughts to the timeworn grooves in dirt roads. When you drive those old dirt roads, your tires automatically fall into the ruts.
This happens with your thoughts, too.
It’s hard to break free from persistent thoughts. Cheryl notes, and modern neuroscience supports, that persistent thoughts become “grooved into our brains.”
There is, however, an upside. You can adopt strategies for hardwiring new thought patterns, replacing your habitually negative thoughts with more empowering ones. The rewiring could look like this:
- “I’m not worth that much” can be replaced with, “What do I need to earn in order to make this work for me and my family?”
- “I can’t afford that” can be replaced with either, “I will figure out how to work that out,” or “I’m not going to put that in my plan right now.”
- “There’s never enough money” can be replaced with, “Wealth is infinite. I just have to figure out how to have a small percentage of it make an appearance in my accounts on its way around the universe.”
- “I’m not good at math” can be replaced with, “I love the feeling of the balances going up.”
This is how you break free from the rut and see real changes in your life. In our interview, Cheryl describes several real-world examples of transformations she has seen in her clients. Beyond just finances, these three key insights apply to almost any area of life you want to improve.
It isn’t always easy, though. It requires tremendous courage to look reality in the face and tell the truth about your results. I’m so grateful for Cheryl’s bravery in sharing her story. No matter how you perceive your current situation, Cheryl’s story will inspire you to see immense possibilities for your life and lives of those you touch.