The other day I went over my parent’s house and told my mom about a serious career decision I had made. My mother’s lips move: and an equal mix of negativity and concern spill out. I am transported to my youth, specifically, the time when I was eight years old and she told me not to climb the monkey bars. “They’re dangerous,” she said. I didn’t listen. But she was convinced I learned a lesson when just seconds later I fell and broke my wrist.
But even to this day, I’m not sure if I fell because they were dangerous, or if I failed because a kernel of doubt was planted in my brain.
I had a great childhood and wonderful parents. I was and am blessed. But even I can think of times, like the example above, where I was doubted. Where my dreams were met with negativity. Where a kernel of doubt was planted in my brain, making me question myself or my worth. I have no doubt these ancient memories affect who I am and how I react to different scenarios today.
Whether it be growing up with a negative parent, or being teased in the schoolyard, these childhood memories were painful. But such dynamics still often exist well into adulthood. A friend who doesn’t believe in your dream project. A boss who tears you down or doubts your competency. A spouse who, in a moment of anger, points out one of your flaws. And nothing is worse than thinking about the times you’ve been the one tearing down another’s dreams, even if you have the best of intentions. At different times in our lives we are both victims and complicit.
How does your parent’s relationship with money affect your own? To what extent does your financial upbringing–usually learned on a subconcious rather than concious level–affect whether you will be a “spender” or a “saver?”
If your mother was entrepreneurial, to what extent will that provide freedom or confidence in your following a similar path? If your parents were pure 9 to 5ers, how will they react if you decide to quit your 9 to 5 and open your own business. Will they be supportive, or will they be planting a kernel of doubt–good natured though it may be–but still pushing you towards failure…
Our lives aren’t–even can’t–just be a snapshot. They must be a moving motion picture. I believe we carry our past with us, for better or worse, and that it colors are opportunities, financial patterns, and chance of success in pursuing entrepreneurial ventures.
At the same time, if we can learn to isolate negative memories–or at least accept their existence; then perhaps we are capable of moving beyond our subconscious limitations. The indelicate noise surrounding us and subtly attacking our hopes and dreams. I write often about the concept of “dream killers,” those that will speak or act for the purposes of making you not follow your dreams. I often define the concept as an exernal force or forces–usually in the form of those closest to us.
But of course, there is likely a bit of an internal dream killer inside all of us, lying in wait, and strengthened from the negative elements of our past.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t be afraid, because who hasn’t seen ambition lead to ruin. Every for sale or closing sign on a business started with a dream. Playing it safe is the default for most people for a reason. The fact that even the “safe” opportunities feel dangerous today may be besides the point.
Past failures and successes color our perception of ourselves and the world around us , but if they affect the outcome of our present or future, it is only because we allow them to.
Maybe you got “killed in the stock market” right out of college, and have since been afraid to invest. Perhaps your first business was a total failure. That’s alright, most people have a bad first experience with the stock market. Most people’s first businesses fail.
But in the end, it’s your ability to dust yourself off, and get back on the monkeybars, that really matters.
The above post was by Chris Thomas, owner of the online freelance writing and web-copy company, FreelancePF. Chris’s interest in personal finance stems from his leaving grad school with six figures in student loan debt. Aside from FreelancePF, Chris is working on a personal finance encyclopedia website/blog, called What Is Personal Finance? In his free time, Chris is an avid baseball fan.