What Is Your Money Story? Taking Ownership Of It
Our relationship with money fascinates me. I have come to understand that our relationship with our finances reflects the relationship we have with ourselves. We don’t only use wealth for financial purposes – we express ourselves through it; we use it to communicate. Money says anything we want it to: it articulates our desires, fears, measure of success and idea of happiness.
Whatever you use money to say about you, it mirrors your unspoken self.
The internal monologue you have with your finances tells your story. It is continuously repeated and eventually becomes your life journey. I encourage clients to think back to their first impactful money memory – to understand where these money stories come from. This is because many of our behavior patterns and belief systems downloaded in the first years of life, become automatic. We behave in a certain way, or think about things almost intuitively – an automated, ingrained response. The challenge is understanding whether our behavior around finances is based on reality or fiction.
I consider my own money journey. My parents had a very dysfunctional relationship with their finances, and I realize how it has shaped my own attitude towards wealth. In our house, my father was in charge of all the income and gave my mom a housekeeping allowance. Furthermore, for us, watching television during the day was forbidden, the tumble drier and deep freeze were locked in the garage and the telephone was 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 our finances as a means of control. As a result, I have resolved always to be financially independent, and often remind myself that my past is not my present.
The difficult part about these stories is that they are often subconscious.
Neuroscientists estimate that 95% of our behaviors and beliefs are pre-programmed in the subconscious mind, operating on autopilot. Let’s look at an example of a money story: a common one is the fear of poverty. You don’t actually have to be poor for poverty to be your story. Stories have to do with your perception of reality and not necessarily reality itself. I often work with wealthy clients who feel poverty stricken from the inside-out. This kind of story can be a destructive and debilitating one to live out and is often about self-worth, or more accurately, the lack of it. The truth is that stories are powerful; if we believe our own stories, they will come true. If you keep telling yourself that “you’re just getting by” or that you “will never be debt-free” – consciously or not – then that is how the story of your life will go. Once you understand your money story, you have to own it. Once you take ownership of your story, you can start a new chapter where you can change that story and start making your finances serve you – instead of the other way around.
The next article in the series will share practical tips on assessing and taking ownership of your money story. Worried about going undone in the digital revolution? Click on the link to find out how you can avoid this.
Who is the writer?
Kim Potgieter is a Director and Head of Life Planning at Chartered Wealth Solutions. Her life’s work is to help people align money with meaning to enable positive and powerful transitions. Kim is passionate about meaningful conversations and understanding one’s psychology or relationship with money. She believes that our relationship with money manifests in the type of decisions we make, and the actions we take around money. Click here to visit Kim’s website and find out more.
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