The superpower that humans have is that we can construct narrative. We can link causes together and we can tell stories – if I do this, this other thing will happen. As Yuval Harari explains, this gives us the ability to co-operate flexibly in large numbers. Bees cooperate in large numbers, but not flexibly. Chimpanzees cooperate flexibly, but not in large numbers. Put 80,000 chimps in Wembley stadium and you get chaos.
So, we are unique and what holds everything together is narrative – stories that we tell about the world. And these stories are everywhere. Story is the beginning of everything. A new political movement. A new business. A new technology. A new cultural movement. The USD is a story, bitcoin is a story. The stock market is a story. Theranos was a story.
But we also tell ourselves stories about who we are. We call them beliefs, we call them feelings, and they sit in our subconscious and direct our lives. Children can sometimes be inspirational because they don’t have the accumulated sense of resignation through disappointment. They haven’t learned to tell themselves the stories that will form their lifelong limitations. They are still in the realm of pure possibility. But we are not. We are bounded by our stories.
And, when we want to change, we look for new ways to do things, new habits to form, better behaviours to build. But at the heart of our identity are the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we can (or cannot) do. And instead of asking ‘what should I do?’ we often need to start with ‘what should I stop doing‘ . What parts of my story no longer serve me? What stories am I attached to that I need to let go of?
Money is a story, and how we feel about money, and how we feel about money and ourselves are also stories. And when you understand your money story, you can change it so that it’s taking you towards the person you want to be, not away. So that it’s making the future easier, not harder.
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