Q: I was not taught good money habits when I was growing up and I can’t seem to change my ways as an adult. What should I do?
A: When we are young, we are like sponges and absorb everything, good and bad. We have our rational, thinking minds, but I believe that bad memories and messaging are actually stored in our subconscious minds (and our bodies). It can be challenging to access these areas, but it’s important to try because these things drive our behavior as adults.
Here’s an astounding example. My mother, when she was 10, was pickpocketed on a train. When she told her parents what happened, they scolded her and said things to her like “You can’t handle money” and “How could you LOSE your money?” (It wasn’t lost, it was stolen!) Cut to 70 years later. Her unscrupulous advisor loses a large sum of money that she inherited from her parents. (You could say he pickpocketed her in a way.) She remembers the train story for the FIRST TIME IN HER LIFE after the money is lost, and shares it with me – it just “popped into her mind.” She didn’t even see the connection at first – but I was absolutely astounded that the bad messaging was so powerful 70 years later.
Reflection and writing things out can help you access some memories you may be storing that aren’t helpful. There’s an exercise you can try on my Resources page. There’s also a great book called Mind Over Money (by Drs. Brad & Ted Klontz). You can also explore your unhelpful messaging with a good financial planner, money coach or financial therapist to see how your past might be your key to moving forward.
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