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The Stories We Tell Ourselves Thumbnail

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Written by Lee Stoerzinger, CFP®

Money. It’s a part of life, right? It’s not only used to purchase goods and services so we can live, but it’s also used to define success, status and accomplishment. Some people have lots of money, and others barely any. Whether by choice, opportunity, gift or legacy, there are many reasons why we are in the exact positions we are as it relates to money. We often tend to think of it in the linear fashion, but one’s thoughts on money can be multi-dimensional too, containing emotion, logic, spirituality, etc. One thing I have always found interesting is the stories people learned about money along the way, especially early in their lives, and how those stories made significant impressions on behavior and decisions, often many years later.

For example, you may have grown up in a family where you heard “we can’t afford that” many times from an early age. Or how about, “it’s not appropriate to talk about money,” (along with politics and religion). Or “if you are a good person, you will be rewarded with money.” Or “we deserve it.” And on and on. But what does it all mean and is there anything we can learn from all of this?

If we were able to think about the scripts we learned along the way, we would realize just how much of an imprint they have made. We may even determine that some of them resulted in positive outcomes and opportunities, while others may have put limiting beliefs in our minds. I can’t tell you how many people I have met with over the years that have built certain money beliefs or spending habits, only to realize they go back to “life on the farm” or “going without” or growing up in a family where charity to others was important. We carry these things with us and they shape who we are. It often helps explain how so many people can have strong fears of running out of money even though they have more than most will ever have, or how limiting beliefs prevent us from earning more because we don’t feel we are worthy. Or even why money comes easy to some people, and is extremely hard for others. Sometimes what we think or feel isn’t always aligned with the reality.

Step back and take a look at your personal history and the ways you think about money. What stories were you told and how do they influence you in the current moment? Do you think they have helped you become successful or have they created limits on your life? Regardless of your situation, know this—any of these beliefs can be changed, especially the ones which present challenges. Just as they were learned, so too can new roads be paved. It takes some practice, but the first step is framing what they are and how your behavior has been shaped. This is extremely powerful stuff and can flow into many other parts of your life. Most importantly, when you think about why you are here in this world, give some thought to where money truly ranks compared to all the other things you say you value in your life. Does it match the stories you tell yourself?

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.