Heal Your Inner Child, Starting with Your Money Story
Each of us has a Money Story.
What is your first memory of money? Was it the handful of change from your lemonade stand? Asking your parents for a few dollars to try your chance at a claw machine? Or was it more direct – sensing stress in the household when bills were due, having financial values hammered home by fears and anxiety?
Money Stories are, as put by The Journal of Financial Planning, “core beliefs about money that drive financial behaviors”. Your Money Story is fundamentally shaped by your childhood experience. It is your introduction to, depiction of, and relationship with money from a young age. Often without realizing, these emotions transfer into adulthood and your financial wellbeing, relationships, career, and growth as a person. This can be beneficial if your parents were able to explain the nuances of financial health. But often there are underlying stressors your inner child senses and reacts towards. Tapping into this sense can enhance your mindfulness day-to-day and help address any misalignment of your expenses.
So, looking forward, how do we heal?
Start by taking several deep breaths. In your mind, become present to how you spend money. See what feelings arise as you look back on your childhood. Note what memories are connected to your family’s ties with money.
The experience of the child is primarily observation; what we as adults strive to keep hidden is often witnessed, if not understood, by children. Children often learn through imitation, listening, their own experience, and empathizing with adults nearby. Reflect back to your own childhood. How often did you decide on things from imitating those around you, or based off the judgment you felt your parents would make?
Connection to your inner child can be achieved through meditation, but also accessing materials from your youth. For example, I have Composition notebooks of my doodles, stories, and journal entries from my childhood; looking back on these writings brings me closer to the mindset I held back then. I had fewer worries, expelled out creativity, and was innocently straightforward with my comments and feelings. There are components of this I envy now, as an adult, and I have found it makes me more observant and experimental to tap into this part of myself.
Envision yourself as a child. Use resources if available, but prioritize how it felt to go to school, play with your classmates, eat dinner with your parents. Recall when you were first aware of money, or comments you heard pass around adults and friends. Allow the good and bad moments to wash over you and do not judge. Your past has provided you with a toolkit to handle your Now and whatever happened, it has already occurred.
It may seem easy to connect your Money Story to how your mom went over balancing checkbooks, or when your dad explained how credit cards actually work. However, this is only the surface level of your Money Story. There are moments within the details, emotions you may have picked up on as a child, that you carry with you today.
Your inner child’s experience with money is not a direct determination of your success as an adult. It is true, your inner child could prefer penny-pinching due to parents who were stressed on paycheck days, or excessive spending due to parents who never expressed reservation when shopping. But the reverse could be true as well – a childhood of reckless spending could have opened your eyes to the impacts of debt, and perhaps now you document every receipt you get. Your childhood relates to your Money Story by providing context to subconscious decision-making and serves as an overall source of connection between your financial wellbeing and your relationships with others.
I challenge you to peel the layers back and examine them more closely. How has your experience with money growing up influenced your life today? Where are the tensions located and what reasons do they have to persist? Can you generalize what your parents’ Money Stories could be? Does the idea of financial planning make you shut down, or do you feel pressure to know it all? Does financial freedom feel attainable? Connect these traits with your past and seek to understand why they have perpetuated.
Healing your connection to money does not have a quick fix.
Writing the next chapters of your Money Story requires contemplation, reflection, and the ability to accept some harsh realities. However, recognizing your inner child and validating their comprehension of the world can open you up. Money is emotional – this is a truth of life. In addition, pressured feelings of secrecy or shame with how you handle money complicate the journey to freedom. This does not need to be the case.
Gaining knowledge about money, especially for women, is emboldening and powerful. Letting yourself free from the pressure of perfection, an unattainable goal wrapped in misperception of strength. Unconditional love towards yourself and this inner child is essential to healing any traumas within your Money Story. While difficult, the path to acceptance is paved by observing harsher elements of yourself and loving nonetheless.
Nurture yourself as if you were still that child, empathize with the desire to learn more and be better. Over time, hearing the child’s voice will become second nature and can provide insights on other facets of life outside of finances – relationships, personal growth, even your career.
Use your Money Story as a source of your power, strength, and perseverance. Listen to the child within you and show them kindness. Connect with us today to build your roadmap forward.