money health weekly


The ABCs of Changing Financial Beliefs

all behaviors follows Albert Ellis' ABC model
❝We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.❞ -Seneca

I pull up a podcast as I get into my car. I have some errands to run, and I listen to podcasts while I drive. I'm excited about this podcast because it's an interview with one of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell talks about a chapter in one of his books in which he tries to answer the question, Why are there many kinds of mustard and only one kind of ketchup? This talk of groceries prompted the host to ask Gladwell how he reacts to long checkout lines at the grocery store. The host explains that he goes berserk if he has to wait in a line for more than a couple of minutes, especially if he didn't choose the fastest line. It sounds like he's looking for a "misery loves company" companion.

Instead, Gladwell says that he is unaffected by the length of the checkout line. Confused, the host questions him, trying to understand how he can be unaffected by waiting in line. He wonders if Gladwell values his time.

In a rare case of events, Gladwell is lost for words. He simply replies, "You and I live in different universes, man.”

It strikes me that the exact same situation, long checkout lines, can lead to vastly different outcomes in two different people. The reason is that they have different beliefs about checkout lines.

It's the same reason we all have different reactions to financial events. We all have different Money Scripts.


Psychologist Albert Ellis developed a simple but profound view of behavior when he developed his ABC model. In the ABC model, the A stands for an activating event. In other words, something happens that we react to. The B stands for our belief about what just happened. The C stands for the consequence, or our behaviors, feelings, and emotions about what happened.

It's hard to imagine somebody else reacting differently to an adverse event. Experientially, it feels like something happens, and then we have a feeling about it. In other words, to us, it feels like the model goes from A to C. We can only experience the world from our own perspective. The way we think and act is how we believe others mostly think and act. This is why the host on the podcast couldn't understand why Malcolm Gladwell had a different response.

The beauty of the ABC model is the recognition that B sits in between A and C. The belief is how