Money Metaphors

You and Your Money Metaphors

Do They Keep You “Stuck” or Free You to Be a “Shining Star”?

In this week’s article, let’s take a “deep dive” and examine your relationship with money. It may sound burdensome at first. However, the rewards are worth it.

Let’s begin by looking at metaphors in our language. Metaphors are a big part of our language and thought. A metaphor is when we take a word or phrase that usually describes something we can observe and apply it to another thing, often to help illustrate a point or make a comparison. An example would be saying that a person’s heart is like a “wellspring of kindness,” using the metaphor of wellspring to describe how much kindness that person has to give.

Many metaphors are drawn from things that occur in nature or can be observed in the physical world. It’s like how we use the metaphor of the “seed of an idea” to describe how a new idea is planted and then grows over time. Another example is when we say someone is a “shining star” to describe someone who excels at what they do by comparing them to the brightness of a star.

You may wonder what this has to do with your relationship with money. Before we go into that, we’ll explore what happens when we focus on a metaphor. It doesn’t matter what the metaphor is about. When you or I focus on a particular metaphor, our brain becomes duty-bound to prove that metaphor is correct. Take the famous quote from Henry Ford:

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

When our brain succeeds in finding evidence to prove that the metaphor we’re looking at is correct, the evidence affects our behavior. That behavior will produce results that prove the metaphor is correct. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy, a cognitive merry-go-round that continues to give us evidence that affects our behavior.

But wait! All is not lost! There’s a way out! First, you must examine the money metaphors that repeatedly keep you doing the same thing with money, even when your actions are not working.

Here’s the much-used quote about insanity attributed to Albert Einstein, Al-Anon, Max Nordau, Bernard Shaw, George A. Kelly, Rita Mae Brown, John Larroquette, Jessie Potter, and Werner Erhard. All we know is that it is an accurate and precise map of what can get in the way of a successful relationship with money.

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting different results.”

Once you see the metaphors that don’t work to bring you into a successful relationship with money, you can then look at ones that will lead you to be successful.

You might want to take a piece of paper and a pen for this short foray into the land of “unhelpful money metaphors.” I’m going to make a list of them. It is not an exhaustive list, but I’ve generated enough to get you started. Look at it and ask yourself if you’ve “danced” with one or more of these metaphors. Then, go on to list any more that come to mind. You are “unearthing” some of the “roots” of your difficulty with money.

Metaphors that get in the way of your success with money

When it comes to money, I feel like:

  • A fish out of water
  • A deer caught in the headlights
  • I have a lot of money blocks
  • A square peg in a round hole
  • I’m stuck when it comes to moving ahead
  • I’m going in circles
  • I’m going against the wind
  • I’m spinning my wheels
  • I’m running in place
  • Money burns a hole in my pocket

Whew! Looking at metaphors regarding money that gets in the way of success is challenging. Please remember to write any of these down, along with one(s) that might have emerged as you saw this list.

Metaphors that promote your success with money

The following is my relationship with money:

  • It puts me on the right track
  • It keeps me moving ahead
  • It’s a well-oiled machine
  • It’s a calm sea
  • It’s a strong and sturdy bridge
  • It’s a well-tuned instrument
  • It’s a steady and reliable stream
  • It’s a guiding light
  • It keeps me on a happy trail

By now, you might be getting the idea of metaphors regarding your relationship with money that keep you moving in the right direction. They are metaphors that can energize you because they help your brain gather evidence to shape your behavior and results.

You can see the difference in energy between these two lists. One presents some openings, while the other closes down your options.

Are you willing to experiment with useful money metaphors? Pick one from the above list or create one with the same characteristics. Print it on a card and put that card where you can view it every day for two weeks. Notice if this shifts a sense of possibility in your relationship with money. Are you taking action consistent with the metaphor you are focusing on?

You are taking charge of what your brain gathers evidence about regarding money. Let me know how this affects your ability to make sound and productive decisions about your financial future.

See you next time!

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