The Financial and Emotional Power of Being Wrong

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One of financial philosopher Dick Wagner's “money truisms” was "Everybody's weird about money." We humans, with our extreme frugality, excessive spending, unwillingness to talk about our money, late-night anxieties, compulsive money rituals, and McMansion-sized blind spots, usually have a strained relationship with some aspect of money.

Beneath the weird money behaviors is the tangled knot of emotional shame, hurt, sadness, and fear we carry around our interactions with money. Ironically, uncovering and understanding this weirdness holds the key to financial freedom. The path toward unlocking our financial potential and solving our financial problems lies not in rigid attempts to maintain the entrenched money behaviors we see as “right,” but in the liberating step of admitting, "The facts suggest I may be wrong.”

It’s common for us to fiercely defend our financial decisions and cling to our entrenched beliefs. Even when facts stack up against us, we tend to fear admitting any financial vulnerability. Instead, confirmation bias pushes us to focus on information that justifies our decisions and avoid any opposing information that challenges our carefully constructed financial walls. This helps us ignore the emotional pain behind financial behaviors like overspending, underspending, acceptance of being underpaid, risky investment decisions, or failing to invest at all.

Instead, imagine a different response. You come across new information that challenges your long-held financial beliefs, even those ingrained in your identity. Instead of doubling down and justifying, you say, "I may have made a mistake that’s jeopardizing my future. Maybe I am wrong."

Merely acknowledging the possibility that you may be mistaken can bring new clarity and awareness to your financial behaviors. It opens the door to exploring and beginning to change your beliefs.