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6 Signs You’re Infected With the “Poverty Virus”

Compulsive buying and a constant desire to get things on credit aren’t a person’s fault. A stress hormone known as cortisol is responsible for the decision-making process: it worsens memory and reduces concentration, decreases self-control, and makes a person feel a bit like a zombie. Feeling poor has the same influence on the brain as a long night without sleep would.

Bright Side learned some of the signs of an unhealthy attitude toward money.

You stick to your parents’ behavioral patterns.

If throughout your childhood you heard things like, “We can’t afford that”, “You must stick to any job you have”, or “We don’t print money,” it gets into your head on a subconscious level.

Our beliefs, including ones we take from our parents, influence our approach to how we do our jobs, what things to buy and at what price, and what lifestyle to lead.

Limits and deprivations in childhood make a person more inclined to feel stressed and depressed. Simple tasks look harder for them and even small obstacles can cause a lack of motivation.

You worry about what other people will say.

Do you know people who took a loan out to celebrate their wedding? Or that bought a dress that was worth a 2-3-month salary? Or skimped on everything to be able to invite 200 guests?

The actress Keira Knightley got married in a dress that had been sitting in her wardrobe for 5 years. And it wasn’t the first time she attended an event wearing it. But nothing bad happened! Relatives didn’t have hard feelings and neighbors didn’t stop wishing her good morning.

There’s nothing improper about having a luxurious wedding if you can afford it: maybe you have a high salary, a prosperous business, or a passive income. But if a family spends all their savings in one day or gets into debt, it’s a sign of a poverty mindset.

You set your priorities wrong.

The economists who study poverty believe that when a person is in a bad financial situation, they’re trying to escape their dull and boring life.

Maybe that’s why in India, up to 40% of the family income is spent on holidays and religious rituals. In America, people used to buy steak and lobster, paying for these things with money from welfare, while in Morocco, villagers bought DVD players and had cable TV, but ate only bread with sweet tea.

A person who thinks they’re poor starts to put themselves below others. To prove their income, they buy expensive presents, treat guests with the last of their money, and get a smartphone on credit for 3 years.

You relieve stress by going shopping.

People in a difficult financial situation are under extreme stress. Cortisol production increases after a year of such a life. It influences memory, concentration, and certain ways of thinking.

Feeling poor has the same influence on the brain as a long night without sleep. A person makes bad decisions like buying things with credit, buying useless stuff, and forgetting to pay the bills.

Self-control decreases not because a person doesn’t want to improve their situation, but because of the high cortisol levels and the lack of concentration caused by the financial problems.

You don’t have any goals or dreams.

Many people try to get rid of feeling poor by working more. The problem with this solution is that in this case a person usually doesn’t allow themselves to dream and set goals or relax and enjoy life — they just work hard all the time. Just like the guy in the picture above.

According to research conducted in 2017, people with low income are more inclined to feel like they can’t change anything or influence the situation. That’s why they don’t set goals and don’t try to achieve them.

Our everyday emotions influence how we plan our lives. When we’re sad, we are likely to want less in the present than wish for more in the future. As a result, we lose potential profit in the long run. When we’re happy and interested in life, it’s easier to think about the future, make plans and bring them to life.

You can’t increase your income level.

Sometimes it feels like a person gets stuck at the same level of income. They can change careers or work harder, but it doesn’t influence their paycheck in any way. It may seem like there’s a certain “ceiling” a person can’t break through.

A person usually thinks this way: “To make more money, I have to works 60 hours a week, get a Ph.D. and have connections,” and “More money means more problems and responsibility, but I’m already working for 2.”

A person gets used to their current financial situation, somehow manages to live on a budget and may even feel discomfort if the salary suddenly becomes...higher. That’s why the feeling of inferiority and guilt doesn’t go away.

If a person gets a bonus at work, they’ll spend the money in a week and won’t even notice. If they’re offered to work on a new project out of the scope of their job, they’ll say they’re too busy and will lose their chance. The habit of living with the same income leads to missing out on all opportunities that are above their usual level of income.

Bonus: Do you have the imposter syndrome?

Have you ever met professionals who hardly make ends meet? It seems like they don’t see their true value and often even deny it. This situation is called “the imposter syndrome” or a person that believes that their success is only the result of coincidence and luck. But if we all wait until we become professionals in our own opinion, our whole life can pass us by.

Tom Hardy in an interview for Esquire magazine said that people probably wonder why they should read an interview about him and may say things like, “Who is this guy with crooked teeth and a beard? Who is this ugly person?”

Emma Watson also feels something similar: she’s afraid that she can’t live up to people’s expectations. She thinks that one day everyone will know that she’s a fraud and doesn’t deserve things she managed to achieve.

However, despite this approach, these celebrities continue to work hard and don’t give up, so they get amazing results.

How is your relationship with money going? Perhaps you know how to get rid of a “poverty mindset”? Share your stories in the comments!

Illustrated by Natalia Breeva for Bright Side
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