Looking closely at the links we’ve made between concepts and questioning the validity of those connections.
Do you remember Wendy from The Survey? She believed that “skinny people are shallow,” which held her back from losing weight. Wendy was caught in a Bind, a situation in which no matter what she chose to do, she’d lose. If she met her weight goals, she’d have to suffer from being shallow and having little respect for herself. On the other hand, staying deep meant having to be obese and a pre-diabetic. Because both of these options were painful, it was easier to stay with the status quo. It was easier to continue the habits she had in place than attempt to climb the hurdle created by her fear of shallowness.
Greg came to my husband, Dave, and myself asking for business advice. He wanted to make more money but kept finding himself making less than he needed to live. Dave and I have learned over the years that someone’s Financial Blueprint is a crucial indicator of their eventual financial and business success. The narratives we tell about ourselves, other people, and the world make up our Blueprint.
Just as an architect’s blueprint sets the parameters for what will become a building, our mental Blueprint defines the parameters of our lives. If, for example, our Blueprint includes the belief that the world is an unsafe place, we’ll be less adventurous, trusting, and calm. If we believe that money never comes our way, studies have shown that we’ll walk right past cash left on the sidewalk, not to mention other financial opportunities. We’ll thus have less money in our pocket at the end of the day.
To assess Greg’s Financial Blueprint, we asked him to fill out the Millionaire Mind Surveydeveloped by T. Harv Eker, which presents an exhaustive list of limiting beliefs around money and success. The statement on which he scored the highest was, “Rich people are evil.” Right away we knew Greg was caught in a Bind of lose-lose. He either got to be good and poor or evil and wealthy. Neither of those options felt appealing. Greg didn’t want to be a loser in the money game any longer, so we used Inquiry to question his thinking.
Chana: Can you absolutely know that rich people are evil?
Greg: Yeah. Just look at what’s-his-face, that big stock market guy. He made off with so many people’s money and got rich off little old ladies’ pensions.
Chana: How do you react when you believe that rich people are evil?
Greg: I get frustrated. I boil up and want to punch somebody.
Chana: How do you feel in your body?
Greg: Tight. Everything is tight. And hot.
Chana: What are you unable to do when you believe rich people are evil?
Greg: I can’t be in the present moment. I’m just thinking about rich people I’ve heard of screwing people over. My head becomes a newsreel.
Chana: Now close your eyes and imagine you’re at your desk working on your business. You’re talking to a customer and are focused on his needs.
Greg: Okay. I can see that.
Chana: Now watch what happens when the belief that rich people are evil pops in.
Greg: I feel limp. Tired. I don’t want to write the email. I’ll just push it off ’til tomorrow…
Chana: So why do you believe this thought that makes you limp?
Greg: Hmm… that’s a good question. I don’t want to be evil, but in that moment I’m not so nice. The customer is asking for help, and I’m blowing him off. That’s not the kind of high consciousness behavior I’m hoping to engage in.
Chana: It sounds like you believe this thought will protect you from being an evil person.
Greg: I thought it would. But… Ouch.
Chana: Why did you say that?
Greg: I just pictured myself all lazy and limp and at the same time tight and angry. I don’t think I’ve ever been a good person when I’m feeling like that. If anything, I become selfish and arrogant.
Chana: What do you want to do?
Greg: I’d like to think about this differently. I don’t want to be angry.
Chana: What would be a different way?
Greg: I guess I could question whether rich people are evil.
Chana: What would be an alternative?
Greg: Rich people are good.
Chana: How is that true?
Greg: I don’t know. I’m stuck.
Greg has built a robust neural pathway between two human qualities: Wealthy and Evil. Like all qualities, these two exist in different people in differing degrees. Some people are criminals with no wealth. Some use deceptive tactics to embezzle money. Others are swimming in cash and are great philanthropists and leaders. There are also, of course, homeless people who help others with the little they have. If you flip through your mental rolodex you’ll find examples of all of these. I’m going to invite Greg to do the same.
Chana: Do you know any wealthy people personally?
Greg: Yes. Rick and Tommy.
Chana: Are they evil?
Chana: Why’d you laugh?
Greg: I know these guys. They’ve been my neighbors for years, yet somehow, in my head, I had to block them out in order to believe that rich people are evil.
Chana: Why is that?
Greg: Because they are the most generous guys I know. They’re constantly giving to charity and offering their time to help others.
Chana: Can you give me another reason why rich people are good?
Greg: Yeah, actually. Rick is like a few people in town who’s successful because of his business. He’s gotten rich from it, but other people have benefitted too. Like Harry. He’s been employed by Rick’s laundry business for years and isn’t just able to put food on the table, he’s saving for retirement. Harry loves his job.
Chana: What’s one more reason?
Greg: An image of Bill Gates just flashed through my head. I used to hate his guts because he was all high and mighty taking over the world with Microsoft, but then I saw his TED talk. He’s dedicating billions of dollars and most of his time to curing malaria and educating people. That’s pretty good.
Chana: Great. Can you give me another turnaround for rich people are evil?
Greg: Rich people aren’t evil? Isn’t that the same thing?
Chana: It sounds similar, but you might be surprised at the different perspectives your mind offers with a slight change in language.
Greg: Alright. Okay, I see one now.
Chana: What is that?
Greg: Well, there’s being good, like giving charity or creating jobs. But there’s also not being evil, which has to do with a person’s character, like how they behave.
Chana: And how do you think rich people behave?
Greg: I guess I don’t know. I honestly haven’t stopped and thought of them as people.
Chana: Would you guess that business owners make more money from being honest and fair or by cheating and being evil?
Greg: I never thought of it that way.
Chana: Which way?
Greg: Well, I know that if I walk into a laundromat, say, like Rick’s, and they were rude or charged me extra, I wouldn’t go there anymore.
Chana: What does that mean to you?
Greg: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can see you have to be pretty honest to make it in business. And nice, too.
Chana: How does that realization make you feel?
Greg: Good. Settled more. Calm. Like I’m more honest with myself. But now the thought of Enron popped into my head.
Greg: I guess I don’t want to be caught unawares. They were super dishonest and messed with a lot of people.
Chana: Do you have to believe that rich people are evil to be aware?
Greg: No. I guess not. I could do my research before making an investment. But still. Enron is a big deal. They fooled even the experts.
Chana: Big deal how?
Greg: They were all over the news, and people talked about it for months.
Chana: Were they all over the news because rich people are evil?
Greg: Yes. Well, wait. Let me think about this. The news usually announces stuff that’s surprising. If it was surprising what Enron did, then I guess it’s unusual. Now that I think about it, you could probably get away with being sneaky for a while, but it’ll eventually catch up with you as it did with Enron. In the long run, for people who care about the success of their business and their reputation, being a slime-ball is probably ineffective.
Chana: What do you want to do?
Greg: I don’t want to be a slime-ball! I want to be a good, upstanding guy. And I want to build a successful business.
Chana: How might you go about that?
Greg: I think having principles on my wall would be helpful. I want to remember what’s important to me.
Chana: Like what?
Greg: Honesty, Decency, Respect. Also, I want to guarantee my products because I want the customer to be happy. And I want to be fair to my employees and suppliers (sinks.)
Chana: Why did your posture change?
Greg: I haven’t been paying them on time. That’s not cool. I’m going to make that a principle: Pay everyone on time.
Chana: Anything else?
Greg: Yes, I want to grow as a person, and I want my business to be a vehicle for that.
Greg: Hmm… through books and classes. I bet there are people out there who teach about how to grow a business on solid principles. I could read and watch them and share them with my staff.
Chana: How do you feel?
Greg: Strong. There’s no anger left. I’m just excited to move forward.
Chana: Is there anything else you want to do?
Greg: Yes. Can we work through the rest of my bogus beliefs on this Survey?
Greg had subconsciously decided that it was infinitely better to be an upstanding person in debt than a slime-ball on financially solid footing. There was thus always too much month at the end of his money. By engaging in Inquiry, Greg was able to disentangle the connection he had built between Wealth and Evil and free himself to pursue both financial success and a high-conscious life.
Summary of Double Bind Study
We can get stuck in a Bind when we believe that two things we want are mutually exclusive and can trap ourselves into thinking that no matter what we do, we lose. Doing a Double Bind Study allows us to question the underlying logic of our beliefs and opens us up to new ways of thinking.
Like what you’ve read? You can learn Double Bind Studyalong with 21 other tools in my book, Hold That Thought. Download a free copy of the book here.