The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The stories we grew up hearing and tell ourselves today dictate our behavior and results.

If you’re stuck telling yourself something that’s holding you back, why not change that story?

We’re all busy.

You’re focused on work, your relationships, and everything else in your life. You may find it difficult to find time to reflect on how things are going. Most people are so caught up living their life they don’t stop and ask how it’s going for them and how they could improve it.

This level of honesty can also be uncomfortable. Maybe this is a belief you’ve carried for decades. You can’t easily change that attitude without serious reflection and work.

If the stories you tell yourself about money aren’t serving you, it’s time to eliminate them.

These are four stories about money I’ve either told myself or heard in conversation:

“I’m not the kind of person who ________.”

I think this shows up more frequently for people who didn’t grow up with money.

I’m not the kind of person who:

  • Pays to have their house cleaned
  • Flies in business class
  • Pays for help with childcare
  • Goes on vacations

And so on.

We grow up seeing ourselves as the type of people who live like our friends and our family. Many of us don’t realize that’s not how it has to be.

If you’re coming home from work without enough time to keep the house clean and you can afford some help, why not pay for cleaners?

If you get a welcome bonus from a credit card (or can afford to pay in cash), why can’t you fly in business class?

You get to decide what “kind of person” you are and it doesn’t have to be how your friends and family are.

“Money is meant to be spent.”

The big spender coming through.

Also, see: “You can’t take it with you when you’re dead.”

I don’t entirely disagree with this. I think money is a tool to create a fulfilling life for you and those in your life.

The issue here is that this story is often used to justify overspending.

If you’re not saving or investing, this is a dangerous story to tell yourself.

Counter Example: “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

I’m not advising frivolous spending, but if you use this story to justify being cheap, then you need to reevaluate.

“More money, more problems.”

Growing up without money, I thought this story was total shit.

Personally, I still don’t agree with it. I included it here because there’s an important point to make about the relationship between “money” and “problems.”

If you don’t have money, your problems are difficult and immediate:

  • How to put food on the table
  • How to afford rent
  • How to get the car fixed

And so on.

But if you do have money, your problems don’t simply vanish.

That said, if you asked me which set of problems I’d rather have, the answer is obvious.

More money does not mean more problems, and it does not mean no problems.

Having wealth upgrades your problems, and it changes them.

You’re no longer worried about affording dinner or housing, but the worries about work, relationships, and everything else we stress about are still present.

“I’ll never have money.”

Not with that attitude, you won’t.

I think many of us grow up thinking that rich people have some magical skillset or knowledge that makes them rich.

In some cases, sure. Jeff Bezos became rich by building an incredibly successful business. But a lot of rich people are just normal people who happen to have money.

They got rich by working, saving, and investing – simple and repeatable skills.

When we tell ourselves we will “never be rich,” it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Just imagine how your philosophy would change if you thought you could become rich. I’m not saying it’s easy. But it is pretty simple.

Increase your savings rate, spend less than you earn, avoid debt, and stop telling yourself stories like “I’ll never have money.”

My Challenge to You

Maybe some of these stories are similar to the ones you tell yourself. If not, I challenge you to think about the stories you tell yourself about money. How do you talk to yourself?

Then, ask yourself another question: How are these questions serving me?

If the way you talk to yourself is limiting, it’s time for a change.