After eleven plus years of studying wealth and poverty, I have come to the conclusion that poverty is a mental disorder. I like to refer to it as Poverty Mind Syndrome. Poverty Mind Syndrome is born at home, primarily in poor households, with parents who are raising their kids, unintentionally, to be poor. This syndrome is like a virus that causes a Generational Cycle of Poverty, infecting the children in these households, who eventually become adults who struggle with poverty. How do you know you have Poverty Mind Syndrome? The symptoms are as follows:
- Victim mindset – Your financial circumstances are dictated by forces outside your control: Wall Street, rich people intent on keeping you poor, government policies, the economy, bad schools, growing up in a bad neighborhood, bad luck, etc.
- Closed-Minded – Being closed-minded means you are unwilling to embrace new ideas, new thinking or opinions that differ from your own. One of the hallmarks of self-made millionaires is the ability to be open-minded to new ideas, new knowledge and new ways of thinking. This symptom is anchored to another symptom called Ideological Constraints.
- Ideological Constraints – Holding on to ideologies that keep you from growing out of your poverty: rich people are bad, money is the root of all evil, poor people can’t escape poverty, needing a college education to escape poverty, etc. The ability to cast aside your ideological constraints, allows you to expand your thinking, to grow and to evolve.
- Intellectually Impotent – “I’m not smart and that’s why I’m poor”. Everyone has the potential for genius. We are all born with the genius gene. What keeps the switch to that gene in the off position is your belief that you don’t have the smarts to rise above your financial circumstances in life.
- Immediate Gratification – Those with Poverty Mind Syndrome look for short-term solutions to their long-term problem. They play the lottery, they gamble on sports or they look for their 401(k) plan funding in casinos. Escaping poverty and creating wealth takes a lot of time. In my study, it took the the average rich person 32 years to accumulate their wealth. The only way your ship will come in is if you build a dock big enough to anchor it.