Over the weekend some newer friends of mine who just moved to the States called last minute to see if we could join them for dinner. She was going to throw together some salad and order pizza. I responded and said let’s make pizza, I just finished making my gravy.
There was dead silence on the phone and my friend finally said, “We don’t put gravy on our pizza.” I busted out laughing! I had forgotten not everyone calls tomato sauce gravy or even knows that is another term used for it!
I grew up in an Italian household and we referred to tomato sauce as “gravy”. When I think of the word gravy – well yum. That word brings up all kinds of wonderful memories of cooking with my mom, sitting family table eating dinner, making the meatballs, eating the meatballs – you get the idea.
I’ve associated very specific memories and experiences to the word "gravy" that are very different from my friend’s understanding and perception of that same word.
Credit Image: pdstahl on Flickr
So what does this have to do with money?
Simple! Our thoughts and beliefs are shaped from our experiences. Some are pleasant, like my memories surrounding the word "gravy," and some not so plesant, like my memories of buying shoes. My friend Jennifer Urezzio, founder of Know Souls Language, refers to them as “heritage beliefs.”
A heritage belief is a thought pattern about a thing or situation we inherited from previous generations – familial or societal. They are neither good nor bad, just not necessarily true for you. Sometimes we are not even conscious we are carrying these beliefs.
Our heritage beliefs affect our interaction with money, whether we realize it or not, and uncovering those beliefs as they relate to money (or anything else) is like peeling back the layers from an onion. You have to start with the outer most layer and work your way towards the center. I’m about halfway through the layers of my onion and working through each layer strengthens my relationship with money.
Money Muscle Strengthener
Try this money muscle strengthening exercise to begin peeling back the layers of your onion. Your answers will help you to begin to understand the heritage beliefs you have formed around money and whether or not they are true for you today.
As a child, what were you taught was the most important thing about money? Did you adopt this idea or rebel against it?
For example, several people in my family always said, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” As a child that didn’t make any sense to me because I knew money is made from paper, and paper is made from trees. When I said that in response, I was told I was being silly. This resulted in my being conflicted and confused about money, because whenever I would think money does grow on trees (a.ka. easy to come by), the voices in my head would remind me I was being silly, which usually resulted in my creating unnecessary drama in my money story.
As a child, when have you been positively moved by money? For example, you bought a toy with your allowance, or you shared your money with a friend so you could both get ice cream. How did that make you feel?
How we feel about an experience involving money has a real impact on our perceptions of money. Does the memory bring up feelings of being happy or dread? Perhaps you have different memories where in one instance you were happy and another you felt dread. What is the difference between the two memories for you?
As a child, when have you been negatively moved by money? For example, when you had to share your birthday gifts with your siblings before you even had the chance to play with them.
I recall one birthday when I received money as a gift, and during my birthday party my mom instructed me to leave it in one of the envelopes from the birthday cards. I did as she said and didn’t think about it again until several days later when I had decided what I was going to purchase with the money I received. I went looking for the envelopes and couldn’t find them. When I asked my mom about them, she realized they had been mistakenly thrown away, and the garbage had already been picked up for the week. I was without my gift money. As an adult, I now know my parents weren’t in a position to replace the money, but it still leaves a “money story” for me that even when you follow instructions, do what you are asked to, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to keep the money or be rewarded with money.
Don't judge your answers - they are neither right or wrong, good or bad. They are clues to what story money is telling you. Here's the good news! In this moment you can decide if that story is still true for you. If it isn't, you have the power in this moment to change it by simply declaring to yourself, "That story is no of interest or true for me."
The Money Conversation Mentor
Helping Small Business Onwers Become Profitable
More from living