We tell ourselves stories every single day. Most of the time, we aren’t even aware of the stories we tell ourselves. However, it behooves us to dig deeper and uncover those stories.
For example, perhaps you never go outside alone after dark. The story that you’re telling yourself is that something bad can happen to you if you do. If you look into that story in more detail, you might discover that’s not really true. You limit yourself when you don’t examine your story.
You can rewrite your story. In fact, there is an entire niche of therapy called narrative therapy which is about improving your life through analyzing and rewriting your story. In the case of finances, you have a money story. You might want to rewrite your money story in order to improve your relationship with money.
What Is Your Money Story?
Before you can rewrite your money story, you have to understand the story that you’re already telling yourself. You might think certain things about money are factual. However, chances are that they relate to a story you’ve got buried deep inside your brain.
Common Money Stories
Here are a few examples of common money stories that people tell themselves:
- There will never be enough money.
- When I get a certain amount of money, I’ll be happier.
- Money does (or does not) buy happiness.
- I have to put other’s needs first, therefore I can’t focus on my own money goals.
- I am bad with money.
These are just a few of the money stories that people tell themselves. They likely developed in your childhood. Then life reinforced those beliefs.
That last one is a particularly insidious one. Many people tell themselves the story that they just aren’t good with money. If you grew up poor or you’re bad at math or you’ve struggled with debt, then you might feel shame. However, money is something you can learn more about. You don’t have to be “bad” at it forever. Stop telling yourself that that’s just the way things are.
Uncovering Your Money Story
What is your money story? You might have more than one. In fact, your money stories might conflict with each other, which can make money feel confusing and overwhelming. Take some time to journal about or think on your answers to the following fill-in-the-blanks:
- Money makes me feel …
- When I don’t have enough money, I think …
- People who are good with money are …
- Those who save a lot of money value …
- People who spend a lot of money value …
- My parents taught me (blank) about money
- I wish (blank) was different in my financial life
- Earning a lot of money means …
Another way to explore your money story is through making affirmative statements then assessing how those statements feel. For example, say aloud, “I have the ability to make as much money as I want.” What does that make you think and feel? Try it with other statements such as, “money makes the world go round.” The more you think deeply about money, the clearer your own money story will become.
How to Rewrite Your Money Story
Knowing your money story empowers you to rewrite your money story. Figure out which parts of your money story are holding you back. Envision your ideal new money story. Then make a step-by-step plan to get from here to there.
For example, let’s use the example of, “I am bad with money.” That’s the money story. The ideal story is, “I am confident that I can handle my money.” To get from here to there, you might:
- Do a reality check. Ask trusted loved ones if they agree that you’re bad with money.
- Write down what it means to be bad with money vs. good with money so you can set goals.
- Make a list of all of the ways that you are already good with money.
- Make a step-by-step list of your goals to get good with money. Start working on step one. For example, you might take a class in budgeting.
- In addition to classes, you might practice skills, seek mentors, and read books on the topic.
- Throughout all of this, switch your language (aloud and in your head) to reflect that you are someone who can be good with money.
Share your money story in the comments. Offer suggestions to others about how to rewrite your money story.
- Your Balance Story: Learning to Say No, Slow Down, and Stop Buying
- Being Financially Smart: When Others Don’t Get It
- Frugal Living is Neither as Hard Nor as Easy as it Seems
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