Rewriting the Money Stories We Tell Ourselves

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Do you tell stories to yourself?  If you are like most people, you probably have a constant inner dialogue going with yourself.  Sometimes you say nice, affirming things to yourself, and other times, you beat yourself down.  You have probably also heard that you should only tell yourself supportive things and avoid negative language.

All true!

When it comes to storytelling, one area of our lives tends to have many chapters – money.  Let’s look at some of the negative money stories we tell ourselves and rewrite them to improve our self-talk.

I’m bad at math, so I’m bad at money

We’ll start with my favorite one.  While it is true that having mad math skills might facilitate your ability to be good with money, it is not mandatory.  It used to be the case that only simple arithmetic was necessary to handle your money.  These days, we have calculators and online tools that make it easier than ever to skirt this issue.

The thing I hate most about this belief is that it is nothing but an excuse.  “Oh well, I’ll never have this skill, so just forget it!”  So irritating!  Financial literacy is incredibly important to successfully function as an adult.  And all it takes is the desire and will to learn.  It’s not rocket science, I promise!

Let’s rewrite that one for good:  I am perfectly capable of learning all I need to know about money.

I can’t afford that

While this one might be absolutely true sometimes, I would still challenge you to remove it from your arsenal of words.  Instead, think of it as what you chooseI choose not to buy that.  Approaching things this way is a much more positive experience.

Here’s a silly, but accurate example: I can’t afford to buy a yacht.  Is that true?  Indeed it is, but by telling myself I can’t afford it, I’m creating a mental “upper limit” in my mind.  Could I possibly earn more if I tried, thus giving me the ability to afford a yacht?  I probably could.  Do I want to?  Absolutely not.  But by changing my language to I choose not to spend my money on a yacht, I am reinforcing my spending values as opposed to introducing upper-limit thinking.

For an even more positive rewrite, try: I choose to spend my money only on things that match my values.

I’ll never make a lot of money

This one falls in the category of self-worth talk.  Related negative messages would be I don’t deserve to earn more, and I’m not qualified enough for a better-paying job.  These are dangerous because, like the “I can’t afford that” thought pattern, they introduce upper-limit thinking.

It may well be true that at your existing level of training, you might not be able to qualify for a better-paying job.  But that certainly does NOT preclude you from updating your skills and finding ways to educate yourself so that you CAN improve your career prospects.

The “deserving” part might require a bit more work.  Why is it that you don’t think you deserve to earn more?  If it is because you lack the necessary skills, education, and experience, then instead say If I want this position, here are the things I need to do.

If the answer is that for some reason you think so negatively about yourself that you are undeserving of improving your lot in life, perhaps you need to seek out some help to rewire your thought patterns.

But to start, you could rewrite the story as:  If I learn and work hard, I deserve to improve my career and make more money.


Here are some tips to incorporate positive money (or other!) stories in your life:

Catch yourself using negative stories

First and foremost, you need to notice when you are telling yourself negative things.  If you can physically stop, do that, and ask yourself why you used those particular words.  Immediately replace the negative words with a more positive message, and then repeat the message a few times to yourself.  It just takes practice to banish those negative stories, so don’t give up after a try or two.

Make notes and signs for yourself

If there is a negative phrase you tend to use often, rewrite it now and then make reminders for yourself.  You can use a sticky note on your computer and mirror, and post signs around your house or workplace to remind you of your new, improved story.

Correct yourself out loud

When you catch yourself thinking the negative story, repeat your rewritten positive story out loud.  Even better would be to tell it to yourself while looking at a mirror, but that isn’t always practical.  Feel silly?  Well, hearing yourself tell the positive story in addition to merely thinking about it will help it settle into your consciousness more quickly.  Don’t be shy!

Ignore the haters

You might experience friends, family, or coworkers who will openly scoff, or worse, mock or tease you for talking to yourself and leaving positive reminders around the house.  You can just ignore them, recognizing that they are probably having similar insecurities about themselves that they don’t want to admit.  Or you can come up with a witty or pleasant comeback, such as, “Well it works for me, you should try it sometime!” accompanied by a big smile on your face.

Your true supporters will recognize that any attempts to better yourself and your habits is a positive thing, and their comments (or lack thereof) should reflect their support.


Now it’s your turn!  What are the negative money stories you have told yourself over the years?  How has that impacted you?  Were you able to combat them?  Share below!  Or if you want to start a discussion with some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your thoughts!

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