Provision #187: Massage your Memory

Laser Provision

Everyone has positive as well as negative memories of money. They can provoke fear as well as respect and power. Until we come to terms with our own story, until we massage our memory of money, no amount of vision can be totally successful. But once done, a proud and responsible future can emerge.

LifeTrek Provision

Before turning to the subject of this Provision, I want to welcome our 63 new subscribers from the past week, most of whom came through AvantGo. In addition, we received a number of inquiries regarding coaching, workshops, and the other services we provide. It is both encouraging and challenging to see this community grow. We trust it will supply you with some essential provisions for the trek of life.

We’re in the middle of a series on the meaning and management of money. Last week we talked about the importance of knowing your purpose, values, and gifts in order to escape the rat race that comes from always striving for more. Enough can never be good enough until one has a clear vision of life. “Vision,” writes Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, “is a target that beckons.” (Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge, 1997, Click). Purpose, values, and gifts under gird that vision and make it fly.

Unfortunately, even with clarity about their purpose, values, and gifts, many people struggle with the matter of money. They know • or think they know • what they want, but money always seems to get in the way. If that sounds like you, it may be time to massage your memory of money in order to work out some of the kinks.

Consider two stories from my own past. In order to teach me about the stock market, my father encouraged me to study the market, track some companies, analyze their performance, and make my first buy. I was in the seventh grade, and I remember graphing the trends with paper and pen. Eventually I took my hard-earned paper-route money and purchased five shares of stock in Wright Airlines • a small commuter airline that operated out of Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. It wasn’t long before the company went bankrupt, taking my money down with the ship.

Fast-forward about twenty-five years, to my father’s 70th birthday. I decided to get him a “gag” present • 70 shares of penny stocks, one share for every year of life. I called up my broker and told him to pick 70 shares of stock in any company he wanted, as long as they cost a dollar or less per share. I didn’t care, I told him, if we lost it all just so we had a bona fide stock certificate to put in the card. Not too long ago, my father called to say, “Remember those 70 shares of stock? Well, another company bought out the first company and, in the process, I ended up with 700 shares of stock and they’re now worth thousands of dollars. Thanks for the present.”

It’s memories like those that need to be recalled and reworked. Did your interactions with money teach you to trust or to doubt yourself? Did they teach you to fear or to take risk? Did they bolster your confidence, or tear it down? Did they make you respect or despise money? Did they teach you to save or to spend money? Did they heighten or lower your anxiety? Did they create or drain your energy?

Suze Orman, in her book The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom (1997, Click) makes it clear that “the road to financial freedom begins not in a bank or in a financial planner’s office, but in your head.” Your thoughts about life and money have more to do with what comes your way and stays with you than any other single factor. Orman argues persuasively that those thoughts stem first and foremost from our early interactions with money. She also argues that we need to massage those memories if we hope to work out the knots and tears.

Here are some of the questions that Orman suggests to help you recall and rework your memories of money:

  • What were the best presents you recall receiving when you were a child?
  •  Did your friends have things you didn’t? Or vice-versa?
  •  Did your mother have to work when others didn’t? Or vice-versa?
  •  Did you get money every time you went to see your grandparents?
  •  Were you ashamed or proud to bring your friends home to your house?
  •  What were the special treats of your childhood? Did you have to be good to earn them?
  •  Did you hear your parents fight about money? Or was money never a problem?
  •  Did you steal • from piggy banks, your parents’ wallets, the dime store?
  • What is the biggest amount of money you ever saw as a child?
  •  Did you get an allowance? Was it more or less than your friends or siblings? Did you have to work for it?
  • What did you do with your money? Spend it? Save it? Invest it? How did it all work out?

Once you have a handle on your own story, you can begin to massage, heal, and transform it into a powerful engine for financial freedom. Everyone’s story has power. This week, get the story clear in your head or down on paper. Next week, we’ll talk about how to face your fears and create new truths.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC