How’s it going so far?
I hope you’ve already learned something new about yourself, even though we’ve barely scratched the surface.
Today we’re going to look more closely at your money past.
Because you can’t really go forward unless we look at where you’ve been. So, just take a moment to centre and ground yourself – and really take the time to do this; you’re worth it.
Take three big, deep breaths.
Slow it down breathing in, and just release and let go breathing out.
Fill your body with air like you’re a hot air balloon inflating. Let your shoulders relax and fall down with your exhale.
Feel the breath filling up from the bottom of your stomach, up through your chest and all the way into your head. And allow your jaw to release tension as you breathe out.
Did all three? Good job!
Okay, let’s connect with your money past and travel way back. Because everything that’s happened to you – consciously or not – has contributed to how you relate to money right now.
Your memories and beliefs from your past fundamentally shape how you think and feel about money today.
Whether it’s your upbringing, your parents, your ancestry, old jobs or even ex-partners, these money memories can create trauma and stories that hold you back from earning and receiving more money.
One of the keys to changing your money future is to understand and heal those experiences.
None of your past experiences need to define you. And together we can write a new legacy for you and your family.
Consider this: the access women have to money today is a really new thing.
Throughout most generations and cultures, only men have been able to hold money power.
This means that most of the women in your lineage have been at the mercy of male-dominated systems.
The church, the government, the head of the household/patriarch and so on.
Many women, and especially those who didn’t marry, were even encouraged to go serve in the church and take a literal vow of poverty!
Women were pushed into professions that were seen as “suitable” for women, such as nursing and midwifery.
And through most of written history, women have been discouraged and forbidden from participating in higher thinking – which typically involved money. The wealth of a family has long been the source of a family’s power in society.
And these patterns repeat over generations.
You may have a feast-and-famine pattern in your family, where you’ve learned to spend all your money as soon as it comes into your bank account, and then find you’re struggling to get through the rest of the month.
This also works on a generational level, where the first generation makes it, the second generation spends it, and the third generation loses it entirely – and the pattern repeats.
Other families have had traumatic events that have had far-reaching repercussions – bankruptcy, famine, poverty, being a refugee, inheriting crippling debts, natural disasters, war, persecution – the list goes on.
Even if you don’t know your family history, you’ve probably got a sense of the trauma from the last few generations.
Like my paternal grandmother was a refugee, fleeing from the invading Russian army. Her family lost everything they couldn’t carry with them, and her scars defined her as a person for the rest of her life.
My paternal grandfather was an immigrant, whose family had to start over in a new host culture. Learning a new language enabled him to get an education, and with that, he rose to a level in society his family could only have dreamed of.
My grandparents’ generation put off things like getting married and having children because of war, which devastated everyone’s economic situation.
And my own mother, who wanted to become a carpenter, had to choose between being a homemaker and nursing school as those were the only options for women at the time. Despite not having any interest in nursing, she chose education over staying at home.
Chances are that your great-grandmother couldn’t vote, hold land, get a mortgage or even a bank account in her own name.
Your grandmother might have worked, but women in those days often had to leave their jobs when they got married and had kids.
You’ve probably seen how your mother hasn’t had as much economic power as men in the same positions.
Women are still paid less than men – and we all know that those stats just get worse if you’re a woman of colour.
Recent studies have even shown that boys and girls get paid different amounts of pocket money, so this conditioning starts early in life.
We simply haven’t had a lot of role models to look up to when it comes to money.
Because in the media and pop culture, rich people are shown in a very narrow way. They’re typically thin, white, able-bodied, often heteronormative and cis – and very, very privileged.
You may not ever have seen anyone who looks like you making good money or holding a position of power in real life, so you haven’t acclimatised yourself to what it would look like or feel like for you
And you might feel like it’s unsafe or unethical like you’re not quite ready to have that kind of money, and that’s so understandable.
Have compassion for yourself because it’s scary to be the pioneer.
When making good money is new territory, it’s really scary.
And it brings up feelings of guilt and shame. You can also get stuck in wondering why you should prosper when generations before you have struggled, or when there are still so many people in the world today struggling and suffering.
It might seem unfair.
But honestly? The only people really bothered by this are people who would actually make the world a better place if they had more money.
People like you.
It’s worth spending the time to work through some of your early childhood memories, really mining for those experiences that shaped your beliefs in a fundamental way.
Because you’d be surprised at how deep these layers go.
So, what is the story of your financial lineage?
Every family has an official or unofficial motto that everyone either lives by, feels oppressed by, or rebels against.
If you were from a royal family, you’d have a family crest that would incorporate your family motto.
And it’d probably be something fancy. And in Latin, like Semper Eadem (Always The Same) or Nihil Sine Deo (Nothing Without God).
But, when you’re from regular, non-royal stock like me, your family motto is sneakier.
It isn’t usually obvious, like a motto on a crest, but it does get passed down through habits, fears and beliefs about who can and can’t make money.
Or even how much money you’re allowed to earn and what’s appropriate for you to buy.
Your income may be holding steady where it is now because you’re walking around, living every day of your life by this invisible, unofficial motto that you’ve picked up along the way.
And even if it’s been true for your family up until now, it doesn’t have to define your experience going forward.
Thankfully, times have changed – and still are.
Now, women have more economic power than before.
The circumstances of your birth, your upbringing, your gender identity, sexuality, physical ability, ethnicity, appearance or age don’t dictate your ability to make money.
And I’m not denying the reality of the world – the discrimination and inequality are very real.
And it’s work we all have to participate in if we want to change it.
But this workshop is about tipping the odds in your favour, by doing the work you can do today.
You can’t control your external circumstances and you can’t change the world overnight.
But you do have control over yourself, your actions, and your beliefs.
And the journey to prosperity begins by you giving yourself permission to prosper – regardless of what other people think you’re allowed to have.
Your money past doesn’t dictate your money future.
But you have to name it before you can heal it.
Use these writing prompts and write out the answers:
- What did you learn about money growing up?
- What were you told about people who had wealth growing up?
- How did your family speak about money?
- In what ways have you internalised your family’s money motto?
Once you’ve figured out what your family’s money motto is, I want you to declare out loud, “This cycle of _____ ends with me!” – put whatever it is that you’ve uncovered about your family’s money habits in the blank space.
It can be things like bad money habits, a feast-and-famine pattern, irresponsible spending, poverty, not feeling worthy of large amounts of money, etc.
So, for example, “This cycle of spending all my money as soon as I get paid and then struggling for the rest of the month ends with me!”.
And as silly as it feels, say it out loud. And say it like you mean it. Make your declaration to someone else if you really want to make it powerful.