If you constantly think about being debt free rather than being mired in debt, can those thoughts lift you out of your financial hole?
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Many people were introduced to the "Law of Attraction" -- a belief that what you think about becomes your reality -- through the hit book, "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne, a few years ago.
Whether or not you believe that you can get a new Ferrari just by thinking about it, some of the belief systems' principles can provide a psychological boost that can help you dig your way out of mounting credit card debt, experts say.
"Everything in the world is energy including our thoughts and our feelings," says Jeannette Maw, a South Jordan, Utah-based Law of Attraction coach. Since like attracts like, all energy attracts similar energy, which stands to reason that if you're having overwhelming thoughts about debt, you'll attract more debt into your life, Maw says.
Indeed, our thoughts about life's challenges can impact our ability to overcome them, says Washington,DC-based clinical psychologist and success coach Nicole Cutts.
It certainly can't hurt to try to be more positive about your debt situation. Here are some ways you can apply Law of Attraction principles on your road to wealth:
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Principle 1. Take your focus off the debt. According to the Law of Attraction, what you focus on will grow "so it's crucial that you stop making debt your focal point of awareness and start seeing what you do want more of, whether it's financial freedom, more discretionary income or a feeling of security," Maw says.
There's another reason you should think about your growing net worth rather than that $10,000 credit card balance, says Cutts. Debt repayment is often a lengthy process and "if you focus on the deficit, you can become overwhelmed or discouraged more easily,"she says. "It's more energizing to focus on the fact that you've erased $200from your credit card debt this month than that you owe $5,000."
If you can't get your debtoff your mind when it's time to pay your bills, set up a system for paying them automatically so you don't have to think about it as much, Maw says.
Principle 2. Create specific goals. Law of Attraction believers say you should know how much money you want to earn or how much weight you want to lose to attract that reality into your life. Applying that logic to debt means knowing how much money you need to pay that debt off - information that's readily available thanks to the revised credit card statements resulting from the Credit CARD Act of 2009.
"From a practical standpoint,knowing how much you need really matters so you're not just fantasizing that you're making progress," says Cutts.
It also gets your mind thinking in terms of solutions, says Deb Roffe, a certified life coach based in Littleton, Colo. "If you know you need $10,000 to pay off your debt, you can start thinking, 'how am I going to create $10,000 worth of money?'" Roffe says.
Principle 3. Use visual reminders. The Law of Attraction advocates the use of visualization to help people imagine -- and draw to them -- the experiences they want in their lives. Vision boards, which are graphical representations of one's goals and dreams, can help you imagine a debt-free life, experts say. A vision board could include not just pictures of money, but also pictures of how your life will be once you are out of debt, says Roffe. For example, pictures showing places you'd like to travel to or luxuries you'd buy might illustrate your debt-free experience.
So why might this process work? "The emotion that you feel around whatever your goal is can be very helpful to motivate you toward it," says Cutts. "When you see pictures of your goal realized, you're activating your mental energy toward thinking of that positive thing."
Principle 4. Focus on feeling good. According to the Law of Attraction, we attract good things into our lives when we are feeling good. "Most people think if something changes in their life, they will feel better, but the fact is the world is unfolding according to how we are feeling," says Maw. "So our job is to feel better first and then things will change for the better."
When you feel bad, you're unlikely to be proactive or think in terms of solutions, says Cutts.When it comes to practicing sound financial habits, "you're less likely to engage in a behavior that you find unpleasant so you might as well trick your mind into feeling more positive about paying your bills," Cutts says. If you can summon up feelings of accomplishment each time you send off that monthly payment, that's ideal.
Law of Attraction believer Melissa Blevins of Athens, Tenn., understands first-hand the power of feeling good when confronting debt challenges. When the 38-year-old wanted to talk to her credit card issuer about difficulties she was having paying off a $1,300bill, "I waited until I felt good going into the negotiation rather than feeling panicked," she says. As a result, she approached the conversation confidently and looked for a win-win solution, a factor she believes contributed to the credit card issuer agreeing to work with her, she says.
Principle 5. Claim success along the way. Law of Attraction proponents say it helps to act as if you've achieved your goal even before you actually have. One way that helps is it inspires different habits.
A person who is debt free would be a good money manager who paid his or her debts on time so you can adopt those behaviors now, Maw says.
Another way to apply this principle is to acknowledge little successes along the way,Roffe says. By focusing on paying off one credit card at a time or celebrating each time you're $250 closer, "you record your small successes, and those then breed more successes," Roffe adds.
Celebrating the successes also rewards positive change, says Cutts, and there is a lot of value in that. "Research shows that we learn and develop habits better through reward than punishment, and we're likely to continue to do things to get more of that positive feeling."
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