The greatest damage done by neglect, trauma or emotional loss is not the immediate pain they inflict but the long-term distortions they induce in the way a developing child will continue to interpret the world and her situation in it.” – Gabor Maté

All of us believe the stories that we tell ourselves; some of the stories are true, but many are not. When we feel frustrated with life and limited by our beliefs or situations, it could be that we’re circling around stories that we created out of neglect, trauma, or emotional loss, and these are governing our lives.

The stories we tell ourselves about money (how we make, spend, save and invest it) are all linked to our past and future. They also shape how we view “enough”, direct our emotional well-being, and substantially contribute to how we deal with stress.

One of the ways that we can deal with this is to create new money stories that help us view our financial wellbeing (and overall wellbeing) more healthily. It’s not easy, and it’s not quick, but the starting point is to start asking better questions and continue asking! 

Dr Gabor Maté calls this journey “Compassionate Inquiry” and has developed a psychotherapeutic approach that aims at revealing what lies beneath the appearance we present to the world.

Some people call this appearance our ego; others call it things like our false self, armour or survival suit. It’s made up of all the stories we’ve told ourselves since early childhood – many of which have not changed in 20, 30, 40 or even 60 years.

Asking questions about why we believe what we believe, and taking time to consider the stories we tell ourselves, unveils a level of consciousness, mental climate, hidden assumptions, implicit memories and body states that form the actual message that words both express and conceal.

We can identify and acknowledge unconscious dynamics that run our lives, but we can also put an action plan in place to liberate ourselves from them.

As Maté says on his website: “The purpose of Compassionate Inquiry is to drill down to the core stories people tell themselves – to get them to see what story they are telling themselves unconsciously; what those beliefs are, where they came from; and guide them to the possibility of letting go of those stories, or letting go of the hold those stories have on them. That’s what Compassionate Inquiry is.”

When last did you think through the money stories you’re telling yourself? Is there something we can do to help you thrive in your current state of well-being?

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