Money. What do you feel when you read this word? Money. Do you feel a little happy? Anxious? Angry? Indifferent? What is it about money that can make people both shine and fall? Why is it that it's so hard to talk about it and yet, and yet, it speak to us every day?
Yes. Money talks.
Sometimes it's a whisper, and sometimes it's a scream, but money is always talking. When you go against your parents' desires. When you buy your kid a gift. When you say "no" to the panhandler. When you say "yes" to whatever you say yes to.
Sometimes, money talks in monologue: "You don't have enough of me". "Show your sister how much more you have than her". "It's been a while since you did something nice for you".
Often, it talks through our family: "I don't have for my own funeral". "I don't want you fighting over things when I'm gone". "I built my wealth for me to spend, don't count on a single penny", "After all I did for you...!".
But money, very frequently, talks louder through actions. Our choices reflect what money tells us. A way to listen? Take a look at your bank statement. Does is reflect your most deeply held values? Is your bank statement a true representation of what matters most to you?
It doesn't always. Does it?
Our life stories dictate what money tells us. The "yeses" and "no's" we received when growing up. The way our parents spent it. What they did to earn it. If they were proud about what they could buy, or ashamed, or neutral.
The schools we went. The friends we made. I will never forget the day that a high-school friend showed me her pantry: she had four different kinds of cereal! I wasn't impressed by the classic Mercedes in her garage. Or the enormous backyard. I was impressed by the four cereal boxes. Since that day, being wealthy meant for me having the power to choose, even in things as simple as the cereal you'd have for breakfast.
What does money tell you? How is your relationship with your siblings as a result as your parents' money choices? How is the relationship with your children as a result as what your money tells you? How are you treating them? What are saying "yes" to?
There are many answers to this: Each and everyone of us has a different money story. Money has a different voice for each of us. What does your money voice sound like? Is it soothing like Morgan Freeman's? Empowering like Oprah's? Is it mean like a boot camp coach? Beyond its voice, what does it tell you? Have you ever listened, like, truly listened?
It's not easy to truly listen our money stories. It's part meditation, part self-reflection. No judging should be involved. But understand what the story says. Feel how it makes you feel. You may feel empowered. Motivated. Ready to take on the world. Or you may feel diminished, even a little sad. That's OK. After listening comes the exciting part: Determine what to do with it. Will you get back to your life as if nothing happened? Will you work to change your money story? Will you write a new one? Will you use your story to become a better you? Remember, you're free to choose.
What will you do with your money stories?