The Kenwood Press
: 05/01/2016

Changing your story is about choice

Donna Colfer

If you’re a Baby Boomer, your parents’ past may have a more-than-usual impact on your relationship with money. Growing up during the 1930s Depression-era firmly entrenched a scarcity mentality in many workers. There was no confidence that necessities and desires could always be fulfilled; “save and don’t spend” were the watchwords.

When you’ve actually lived through a bona fide depression and felt the devastation to your family, it becomes part of your story around money. Your tendency to be frugal and fearful around spending becomes a hardwired money pattern that’s difficult to change. This keeps you living in the past and unable to fully actualize your potential to manifest a new reality. This hardwired attitude will most likely be passed down to your children, who may feel they can’t live up to their full potential because of what was modeled to them.

Money patterns and behaviors are multi-generational family patterns that we inherit unconsciously, forming our tendencies toward money. Add to the mix that the majority of the population has little or no education in personal finance – from parents or in school – and you end up with confusion and fear around money, and sometimes a complete disinterest.

My client Sharon was constantly faced with messages of “not-enoughness” from her parents. Sharon is in her late fifties, born and raised in Europe. She’s a successful pianist, performs in concerts, and is a sought-after teacher. She earns a consistent income but would like to become more knowledgeable about managing her income and expenses. Sharon felt she didn’t receive a financial education from her family and wanted a healthier, more informed attitude about money.

Her husband is much more organized and disciplined, and they often disagree over how money is spent. She dislikes how rigid he becomes when they try to have a money conversation, although he’s generally supportive. She knows that she regularly avoids this subject and now wants to learn how to budget and look at the details more closely, but needs a patient teacher.

In looking at how Sharon’s money patterns and behaviors were developed and who her role models were, it was clear why she disliked working with money. Living in Europe, her parents had experienced devastating bombings during World War II and developed a war-rationing mentality while raising their two children. Even though Sharon’s father had a well-paid job, spending was strictly controlled and regulated. Sharon’s clothes were homemade and patched; rarely anything new. On the other hand, they went on vacations every year, paid for her college education and car, and supported her financially throughout her personal challenges. These two extremes created mixed messages for Sharon around money: there’s never enough and there’s plenty.

The war was a serious experience for her parents, but it wasn’t her story. Sharon resisted the post-war mentality and lived with negative reactions to it. This manifested in being undisciplined, disinterested, and defensive about money. She carried this resistance into her relationship with her husband just as she had with her father. I asked her if it’s still necessary to carry this resistant energy. Could she look at her story with new eyes of forgiveness, let go, and soften the hardened attitudes? She said she is willing to forgive the past and realizes how grateful she is for what works especially well in her life: her career and her relationship with her husband.

There was another piece to Sharon’s story. Her grandmother had lived with her family when Sharon was a child, and was savvy with money. However, she wasn’t very nice and argued constantly. Sharon’s mom was extreme around money, either withholding it completely or spending too much. So Sharon built an aversion to managing money because it represented extreme behaviors, arguing, and general unpleasantness. These beliefs needed replacement with positive behaviors that helped Sharon change her story. And she did.

Together we created a cash flow statement for her business and then she created one for her personal life with her husband. “It was enlightening for us and caused us to revisit our needs for retirement! I’ve also started to track numbers with greater accuracy in my business. Wake-up call there!” Sharon also wants to reorganize her accounting system. This is an example of stepping out of her Innocent/Victim story and right into her Warrior/Magician reality.

There are a few ways to approach shifting beliefs and patterns around money:

Psychologically/emotionally bring more awareness to unconscious behavior. You’ll be more willing and inspired to change after that’s achieved.

On a spiritual level, through forgiveness, let go of attachments to the past story and the people involved; this will lighten your heart.

With actual engagement in doing the research, gathering and organizing the information, and manifesting the physical results you desire, you create ease, flow, and results.

Changing your story is about choosing a different one that changes your relationship with money.