When you think about the best gift you ever received from your parents, it probably has nothing to do with your money mindset. You might be thinking of the most useful, the most thoughtful, the most creative, or the most expensive gift. Or maybe it was a gift of your own making feelings Something, a gift that got into the deeper emotional side.
As we get older, and theoretically, wiser, we realize that the most impactful gifts don’t come in boxes. They are the lessons our parents instill in us during our developmental years, and often the strongest lessons are not taught on purpose. They are the ones we learn about by observing our parents’ actions, listening to the way they talk and feeling their emotional responses.
As it turns out, this is how most of us develop our core beliefs, values, and attitudes about money that influence our view of the world. This worldview of money, what I like to call your family’s money map, influences your financial decisions to this day.
Money maps explained
Your money map is how you see your inner self and the outer world as it relates to money. Your map is what helps you chart the course of every financial decision you make. To use a more recent example, think of it as a financial GPS that guides you. In short, your money map is your view of the world, both internal and external.
Your money map and how you see the world is a complex web of beliefs, attitudes, emotions, and values that you associate with money and the role it plays in your life. affects the way you think and feel about money; It’s those thoughts and feelings that influence your actions and behaviors.
Here are some examples:
- If your parents were in debt, you may have a strong belief that all debt is bad.
- If your parents never had savings and were stressed about money, you might feel anxious when dealing with money, or you might be a vigilant saver (that is, savings create security).
- If your parents argue about money, you may avoid talking about it, or you may find that financial disagreements bring up a lot of strong feelings.
Money cards are passed down from generation to generation. Your parents have their own money maps (influenced by their parents), and they pass them along to you. And you will pass your map to your children. We are all revisiting what is arguably one of the most valuable lessons we can learn in life, and one that will influence our lives and our financial decisions.
How our money maps are formed
Our money maps are formed early in life. In fact, it is the attitudes, beliefs, and emotions that form the basis of our global financial vision Formed at the age of seven (Opens in a new tab). That’s right: How you think and feel about money, how money affects your identity and how you see money in the world are encoded in your mind before developing critical thinking skills.
Here’s how this works. When we’re young, our brains – think of them as little supercomputers – are waiting to be programmed. Before we are (almost) seven, we lack the ability to program it ourselves, so the foundational programming of our brains depends on the world and the people around us. Enter our parents.
Our parents’ observable attitudes toward money will form the same code that programs our brains. When we lack critical thinking skills (again, before about the age of seven), everything we learn and experience from our parents turns into a feeling (an emotion) that is encoded in the subconscious and subconscious parts of our brains.
In essence, we become programmed, or conditioned, to think, feel, and act in specific ways. And these programs continue to operate, often below the conscious level of thought, and influence our lives even today.
How money maps affect our finances
What most adults make wrong is that they think their money problems are thinking problems. In fact, they are feeling or experiencing emotional problems. This is not to say that making smarter, more informed financial decisions isn’t important. It is essential to improve our financial health, but there is something deeper that affects our daily lives.
Imagine an iceberg. The part that sticks out above the water represents the thinking part of our brain. The 80% to 90% that sits underwater, subconsciously and subconsciously, represents our feelings about money. And these feelings (emotions, attitudes, beliefs) are the primary force that influences our decisions today.
In my previous article on Why financial literacy alone always fails, you can see why more information and more knowledge (for example, more thinking) fail to change the way we act and behave. There is something much deeper that we need to explore.
The early programming of our minds is still with us today. Every time we make a financial decision, our brains (supercomputers) run a program under the surface of our conscious mind. The decisions we make and the actions we take all depend on our awareness of that programming and how it interacts with our logical and rational minds.
Improving our financial well-being begins with understanding the healthy or unhealthy beliefs, attitudes, and feelings that have been programmed into our brains. If we want to live a richer and more fulfilling life, we need to start exploring our money maps and how they chart the courses we all follow.
Stay tuned for next month’s article to learn how to navigate your personal money map and for actionable steps you can take to change unhealthy beliefs, attitudes, and emotions that may be preventing you from getting the most out of your money.