The Psychology of Money, Prosperity and Abundance

by Kris Hallbom and Armand D’Alo

What stops people from succeeding financially and having abundance in their life? The answer is generally focused around the belief that financial success is not a possibility. Many people create various barriers that keep them from having abundance.

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

Even though there is a positive intention behind their financial barriers, many people don’t recognize what those intentions are. Then there are those who know at some level what the positive intention is, yet they still don’t know how to get through obstacles.

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 the people you know who read all of the think and grow rich books, attend financial seminars, say daily affirmations, and still have money problems. All of these things that 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 beliefs about money. Some of the more common ones are:

  • You need money to make money.
  • I don’t have enough money to plan with.
  • It’s too late in my life, I don’t know what to do.
  • If I invest, the market will go down for sure.
  • Finances are too complicated.

These are all cause/effect beliefs, which really have little to do with achieving abundance. 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.

Abundance is not what a person has. It is a state of mind. Many people who succeed in life from a financial perspective often have positive beliefs about prosperity and abundance. When people understand and move from the realm of cause and effect to the idea of “What is possible?” in their world, they move to a whole different level of thinking, one which is more rewarding in the long run because they’re expanding their mental frames around money.

Instead of focusing on what is possible, many people spend a lot of time thinking 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 much 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 helping a person is to explore the nature of their issue.

For example, the person may have had parents who lived in poverty and subsequently formed a “Depression era” mentality. Hence, they developed an unconscious belief that he/she 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 make it 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 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. (1)

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 techniques to 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 abundance.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Think of something that you don’t have, but that you’d like to have. Think about 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 prosperity and abundance. It’s amazing what can happen to a person once they change their attitude and beliefs about possibility. Once people will begin to start seeing results almost instantaneously. The shifts may be small at first, but as they continue to embrace their new way of 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 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 by 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, success was an affirmation of what is possible, because everything was possible to them. They were willing to suffer for awhile to reach their long-term goal of abundance and prosperity. It was simply a matter of their levels of priorities and how they categorized the different possibilities. People can do anything they want. The question is: what are they willing to do to get to their possible outcome?

    Patience is a Virtue

    It’s fairly standard for most people in Germany to save their money before making a big purchase and to pay in full at the time of the purchase. In Germany, the only debt that most people have is their mortgage and what they owe on their car. In other countries, it’s common for people to abuse their charge cards, and to be deeply in debt beyond the traditional house and car payment.

    Many Germans take joy in saving up for something special, because they look forward to the reward of getting what they want. As soon as they have that reward, they immediately begin to save again for their next big item or travel adventure.

    It’s interesting that Germans have the ability to delay the instant gratification that a charge card can bring. They look forward with anticipation and excitement towards the day that they can have what they want. They don’t regret for one minute that they have to set aside money to meet their next goal. Instead they focus on how thankful they are for what they have, and patiently look forward to getting what they want.

    The ability to delay gratification is a masterful skill, a triumph of the reasoning brain over the impulsive one, according to Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., who wrote the book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books; 1995). The author concludes that people, who are able to exercise patience by delaying gratification, are more likely to succeed in life.

    Goleman documents a study that took place in the 1960’s in which a researcher invites children into a plain room one by one and gives each young child a marshmallow. “You can have this marshmallow right now,” he says, “but if you wait while I step out for a moment, you can have two marshmallows when I get back.” And then he leaves.

    Apparently, some of the children grabbed for the marshmallow right way and some waited a few minutes before they finally caved into their temptation. But others were determined to wait. They covered their eyes, sang to themselves, put their heads down, played games or even fell asleep. They did whatever it took to hold out. When the researcher returned, he gave them their hard-earned second marshmallow.

    A survey of the children’s parents and teachers found that those who, as four-year olds, had the ability to hold out for the second marshmallow generally grew up to be better adjusted, more popular, adventurous, confident and dependable teenagers. (2)

    According to Goleman, the evidence is conclusive that patience seems to play a major role in the success of many people. The ability to resist your impulses can be developed through practice.

    When you’re faced with an immediate temptation such as spending money on something that you don’t really need, remind yourself of your long-term financial goals. Reframe your current financial situation by realizing that you’re really saving for an abundant future. (3)

    If people are willing to suffer a little by spending less so that they can later invest their savings, then they are well on their way to achieving prosperity.

    Abundance 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 $15,000 a year, everyone still has the capability to achieve a certain degree of 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 abundance by exercising his right to do so. This same attitude led him on a path towards achieving and living a prosperous life once he got out.

    Prosperity, Abundance 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 abundance. Once this is realized, then we start to identify the fact that we’re the ones that 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 is an important distinction to make, because then having money is no longer a question of 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. Since they feel better about themselves, they become less fearful and are open to trying something completely different.

    It’s a matter of saying to yourself, “Here is the outcome I want and there are several ways of achieving it. Several possibilities. 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’re still the same person on the inside.

    Measuring one’s self-worth by how much money one has can be devastating. For example, here was a woman who had 17 million dollars set aside for her in a trust fund by her parents. It would pay 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, coworkers, 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 compare and judge less often, 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.

    When a person compares themselves with another, there is a positive intention behind their behavior, even though the behavior may appear to be less than resourceful. As they start to understand those positive intentions˜and often they revolve around self-worth and identity˜they’ll begin to heal the unconscious wound that is holding them back from achieving prosperity and abundance. Again, this is where limiting beliefs and imprints come into play.

    A person’s identity is not something that magically happens all of a sudden. It’s something that a person builds over time. They have an experience and they interpret this experience in their brain. They take that interpretation, give it some level of criteria and store it away. And at some level they say, “I am based on this experience. They have other experiences, stacking one on top of another. Many people tend to sort for the negatives and delete the positives. Over time people begin purposely stacking one direction and deleting everything else. We are creatures of deletion. The positive intention behind sorting for the negative is to protect the person from ever having another negative experience.

    Eventually, people forget to also sort for the positive. They need to learn to take in all of their positive experiences to maintain that balance. When a person brings in all the positive elements of an experience and moves the negative parts outside themselves, they begin to realize that the negative information isn’t really about them. This makes it easier to hang on to all of the positive aspects of the situation, and integrate them while releasing the negative.

    Releasing the negative aspects of a situation, while integrating the positives will change a person’s financial situation over time in a dramatic way because they’ll begin to develop a deeper sense of self-worth. Instead of basing their 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 $1,800 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 took a new cleaning contract on the side and hired somebody to staff the contract. 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 realized a tremendous increase in his monthly salary and had a sense of freedom that he had never experienced before.

    He was still ding 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,” he began thinking, “What is possible?” 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 abundance and prosperity into their life. The outer world is 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. Johnson, Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, (Beverly Hills, CA: The Holistic Book Project, 1993) Neuro-Linguistic Programming, p. 382.
    2. Nancy Gibbs, Time Magazine, (Time, Inc., Principal Office, Oct. 2, 1995) Vol. 146: No. 14. The EQ Factor, pp. 60-69. Information in the article is based on the book written by Harvard psychologist Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., Emotional Intelligence (Bantam, 1995).
    3. Daniel Goleman, Reader’s Digest, (The Readers Digest Association, Jan. 1995). What is your Emotional IQ? Pp. 49-52. Condensed from Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

    Kris Hallbom is a free lance journalist and has been writing professionally for 15 years. She is the co-director of the NLP Institute of California and has a degree in Psychology and Languages. She is also an NLP Master Practitioner. Kris can be contacted here: Kris Hallbom

    Armand D’Alo is the founder of Oaktree Advisory Services, Inc., a financial consulting firm in the Los Angeles area. He is also an NLP Master Practitioner who has been doing financial planning and consulting since 1979. Armand can be contacted here

    (Originally Published in Anchorpoint Magazine, February, 1996; reprinted with permission.)