What’s your financial narrative?

You’ve probably heard the term “family of origin” in reference to childhood experiences, point of view, the forces that shape each of us from our earliest memories.

We know we’re shaped emotionally, even physically, by our upbringing and the parental figures in our lives.

Did you know your financial story is shaped by those forces as well?

There’s a fascinating book, Tapping Into Wealth by Margaret M. Lynch, that explains how this happens.

Lynch, who promotes tapping, an emotional therapy technique, uses this tool to address financial behaviors that sabotage responsible and smart money management.

I’m not sure how I feel about tapping…probably one of those things that works for some, maybe not everyone. But regardless of the technique, the insights from the book are thought provoking, and potentially freeing.

Lynch goes into detail about how we typically either mirror or fulfill the money paradigm we grew up with. She talks about how we make judgments about our earning potential, the moral outlook we bring to the subject of money, what money represents to us, how failures we witness as children can influence our potential as adults.

As adults, another factor that shapes us is financial trauma. Emotional or physical traumas carry a financial component that many may not recognize, but are a very real result of experiences such as divorce, serious medical issues, business failures, or scams.

Some questions to consider:

  • How do you regard “wealthy” people? Do you feel suspicious of anyone who is wealthy?
  • Do you feel guilty for wanting to make money, or even a lot of money?
  • Do you believe you can never get ahead financially? Do you believe you’ll always be poor, or just getting by?
  • Do you have a need to buy things, beyond what you can actually use?
  • Are you able to be responsible in other areas of your life but behave irresponsibly with your finances?
  • Do you feel disloyal to your mom and dad if you’re more successful that they were able to be?
  • Does money represent security, freedom, or some other quality to you?
  • What’s your financial set point for saving and earning?
  • Are you aware that you have a set point with regard to your earning capacity, determined largely by your own beliefs?
  • Are you aware that you can change your relationship with / to money?
  • Do you sabotage your success for reasons you’ve never confronted?

You’ll find answers to these questions, and many others, from the examples Lynch shares throughout the book. She also includes exercises to help readers personalize the information so it transitions from theory to a practical guide.

Like other stories / narratives we tell ourselves, we have a financial narrative that informs our choices about money…how we earn, how much we earn, if we save or not, how we spend, our opinions of what it means to have debt, how capable we are, etc., etc., etc.

Like other pieces of our personal story, getting to the bottom of our financial narrative takes honesty, searching, and often, confrontation. This personal narrative can be complex, full of family history and secrets, unspoken (but real) rules and attitudes, guilt, shame, neglect, and despair.

Or maybe not. Maybe you have a healthy regard for money, and a respect for the power of money in your life. Perhaps you’re one of the few who have a balanced relationship with your finances, and don’t need to do any work here.

But if you read the questions above and have more uncertainty than answers, I recommend you check out Lynch’s book. It may be the beginning of a whole new outlook on the subject of finances, and help you see, for the first time, how you came to the financial perspective you have today.

You may find the tapping exercises useful too. I think they’re a positive addition to the book. But regardless of tapping, I think you’ll learn a lot about yourself and your financial narrative. How you choose to shape your future will be up to you, more in your control, once you understand all the messages and agendas you’ve internalized around the subject of money.

I don’t receive anything for recommending the book, this is just an attempt to share something I found useful myself. But I’d love to hear from others…what do you think? Helpful? Insightful?

Good luck! Here’s to discovering your money narrative, and to understanding more about this fundamental realm of life as you question and confront.

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