Money porcupines: How to spot (and stop) financial self-sabotage

how to stop money self sabotage


Let’s talk about the sneaky, invisible saboteurs holding us back financially. Or, as I like to call them, money porcupines.

They’re a defence mechanism. They mean well! They are there for our protection. To keep us safe. To keep us doing things the way we know best, to avoid pain that we learned a long time ago was best avoided. To avoid taking risks that might not pay off. To keep us in familiar patterns, in line with who we perceive ourselves to be and who others have dubbed us. They anchor us in what’s familiar, comfortable, safe.

And… they may not be serving us any more. Money porcupines are prickly little beasts actually repelling riches from our life – self-sabotage. These deeply held beliefs are pushing away money before it even enters our orbit.

These little devils play havoc under the surface. You’ve seen Inside Out, yeah? These gremlins are pulling the levers and stomping all over your intentions.

Let me give you some examples from my own life…

I can’t make money doing what I love. Why hello starving artist mentality! I thought I would have to compromise my creativity. Turns out I just had to think about it differently and channel it in new ways.

People won’t pay me that much. Oh, yes they will. It took me years to work up the ladder but you know what? It wasn’t so much them. It was mostly me. I needed to build my own confidence so I could raise my rates. I have no doubt I could have commanded much more a long time ago if I truly believed I was worthy of charging more. The more I earned in my day jobs, the more I learned about what other people are actually making, and the more I saw from online entrepreneurs, the more proof I gathered … that’s what made the difference for me. Now I have the evidence – not just from others’ success, but from my own.

If asked for money, I have to give if I can. A wicked twist on, can you really afford that? If I literally have the dollars in my account, shouldn’t I honour that request?

You can see pretty easily how these money porcupines might show up in my life, shape my actions, and hurt the bottom line.

They tend to lie dormant for years…

When starting out and you don’t have two cents to rub together, struggling to make ends meet … who has time for this stuff? I didn’t have the time or energy to go any deeper. Day to day struggle consumed all I had – and more.

Then things start to get a bit easier. You can breathe more freely and loosen up.

You probably hit some roadblocks, get through the growing pains, and keep going. You learn that you can get through hard shit and bounce back strong.

Then you get to the point where you’re living within your means, saving and investing … but somehow you feel stuck.

Tripping up over old money wounds rooted in the past. Getting wound up in anxiety and fear about the future. Leaking money here and there through weak (or nonexistent) boundaries. Doubting your worth and worrying about losing what you’ve built. Feeling guilt about having what you have, yet still wanting more.

That’s where I was a few years ago. And then shit really hit the fan. It was a make or break moment. The biggest financial/personal crisis I’ve ever faced. And I wallowed and wavered for far too long. Seriously.

But eventually I 100% committed to finding a solution. One day, I just knew that’s what I was going to do. How? Meh. I simply felt the shift inside me that came with the certainty of what I would achieve.

I started looking around. Waking up. Facing the whole world within me that has been driving the show from under the surface. It was finally time to unlock it, face it, and integrate it. If I wanted to change things, break cycles, and make more money than I ever had before, I had to get this foundation right.

I now know I can use my skills to earn a good living. I’ve banked the evidence.

I now know I can handle rejection and ghosting, and that not every opportunity is for me.

I now know that other people’s money problems are not mine to solve, and I need to put myself first – always. It serves no one if I give grudgingly.

I faced my bullshit, ploughed through, and I still keep clearing the path as more keeps blowing back and building up.

Breaking self-sabotaging money patterns and beliefs

Isn’t it funny how we always tend to doubt our instincts? Come up with an idea or solution and then, the next thing that crops up in the mind goes something like: will that work? Is that really true/possible?

And yet when the opposite happens – when fears or doubts arise – we don’t question them. We just take them as gospel. Shy away, shrink back, avoid looking too closely at them.

What if gave them equal treatment? What if we were just as sceptical of our doubts as we were of our instincts?

Cross examine the belief. That’s really all it takes.

If we were to simply apply the same philosophy, play devil’s advocate, often we find they don’t stand up to scrutiny.

I don’t deserve this. Why not? Is that really true? Or is this belief a hangover from old hurts that it’s now time to cut loose?

Get curious about those prickly porcupines. Notice them. Sit with them. Interrogate them. Disarm and dismantle them.

With a new perspective, you can then try on and eventually adopt a different belief. It might simply be the exact opposite of the belief you just took apart. Or maybe it’s something in the middle. If the opposite feels like too much of a leap, try:

“I’m learning to…”
“I’m becoming…”
“I’m on my way to…”

And keep sticking with it. It takes time to embed a new belief. Habits aren’t built overnight: they’re anchored in with practice.

Money porcupines don’t just go away. You don’t get fit and healthy once, then coast for the rest of your life. Your mental hurdles don’t, either! If anything they are even more pervasive and stubborn. Acknowledging and then rising above them is a lifelong practice.

The good news is, every time we do the work to send them back to where they came from, we strengthen that muscle. The next time, it gets a little easier to say “not today” and carry on to channel your most abundant self. Once you recalibrate, and question the validity of each money porcupine, you can ask the real question: What would the wealthiest, most self-assured version of you do? Let the answers come to you, and let them guide your next move.

(NB: Our thoughts and beliefs are powerful. So are wider forces and circumstances beyond our control, too numerous to count. This post is solely about the former – the part we have influence over.)

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3 thoughts on “Money porcupines: How to spot (and stop) financial self-sabotage

  • Reply Cashback Koala November 18, 2021 at 21:28

    Money porcupines (nice wording), we’ll take cash koalas instead!

  • Reply Dividend Power December 18, 2021 at 00:35

    I liked your article and the term money porcupines.

  • Reply Mrs. FCB @financialchainbreakers December 26, 2021 at 22:51

    Great term, and so true. Plenty of financial issues are based on math, but even more is based on what goes on in our heads like guilt and limiting beliefs. And yeah, definitely feels like a constant battle!

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