I am constantly reminded how challenging money stories can be. To fully understand your money story takes some introspection – it is hard work try to make sense of the psychology and the personal drivers behind your particular relationship with money.
Bruce Lee expressed it so beautifully by saying “As you think, so shall you become” – and I am reminded that this is why we do it. We are the ones that give meaning to money. And the meaning we give to money manifests in our self-statements and behaviour. And once we understand our money story, we understand what we believe about money, and why we have certain attitudes and behaviours around money. And the hard part? You have to own your story! By owning your story, you can begin to understand all the money patterns that is governed by your story.
I consider my own money journey. My parents had a very dysfunctional relationship with money, and I realise how it has shaped my own attitude towards money. In our house, my father was in charge of all the money and gave my mom a housekeeping allowance. Watching television during the day was forbidden, the tumble drier and deep freeze were locked in the garage and the telephone under lock and key. I remember the anxiety as my mom pleaded with my father to give her extra money for Christmas presents.
Don’t misunderstand me: we had money – and enough of it. It’s just that my dad bullied my mother and used money as a means of control. As a result, I have resolved to always be financially independent and often remind myself that my past is not my present.
How you spend money, what you spend money on, whether you feel worthy of earning or spending money on yourself, these are money patterns. And some patterns can be debilitating.
So how do we explore these money beliefs and make it more conscious?
A good starting point is to look for clues in your past that will help you to understand your current financial life. Start by spending time considering the very root of your relationship with money and try to make sense of how these patterns were formed. Ask yourself: How did your parents talk and behave around money; what did your parents tell you about money?
For example, if one of your early money memories was hearing your parents telling you that you have to work hard for your money, then this could influence how you view money today. I often meet clients who feel that if they are not working incredibly hard for their money, that they are not deserving of earning the money.
Here are some other money patterns that I often come across in client meetings: the feeling of not being worthy of earning money; the irrational fear of losing all your hard-earned money, the fear of not having enough money and the incapability of spending money on yourself.
My suggestion is to write your thoughts about money down. Once they are written down on paper, it is much easier to look at them objectively, compartmentalise and understand them.
Now, write down what you believe about money today. What do you use money to express or do? Here are some pointers to think about: How do you spend money on yourself; why spend money on others; do you use money as a reward, to create opportunity, to control or punish?
Believe me, this process is not as simple as it seems. But once we get through this process, and understand where money fits into our lives, whether it’s serving us or whether we need to make changes to the story, the mindshift begins to happen.
Owning your story is important. Being accountable is to understand that it is not something that “happens” to you, but something you can control. Embrace that you will no longer be the victim of your money story, but the conqueror, the hero, the one in charge.
My next blog will be about analysing your money story, deciding what works for you and what part of your money story no longer serves you. Only then can we start looking at how we can change our money destiny.