When I went through my coaching training, we used various metaphor tools to help illuminate how we felt about different areas of our lives. An example of this would be to consider your answer to the following question: If your money was a person, place, or thing to you, what would it be? Some of the answers I’ve heard to this question are:
- Money is a lion and I never know if he is going to pounce on me and eat me or not even see me…
- Money is an alligator in my neighborhood, and I have to sneak out so he doesn’t chase me all over the place…
- Money is a group of scary monsters in the corner that I can never quite see, but who are always there waiting, menacing…
You get the idea. How you describe your metaphor is how you describe your relationship to money. It can be useful to help a person clarify the emotional dynamics that hold them back from a better money relationship. But I’ve rarely met anyone who described their money metaphor as puppies or rainbows. I don’t even hear people describing it as a tool, or a bridge, or a car that will take them where they want to go.
And I think that’s a crying shame — and something we can easily fix.
What do you WANT your money to be?
For me, my money metaphor was never that scary. When I was first asked this question, Tribbles popped into my mind (those fuzzy aliens on the old Star Trek that would multiply endlessly). And while it’s easy to see how going from “monster” to “bridge” would help someone with their money mindset, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do with Tribbles to improve my thinking, so I never really worked with that. (Or, I should say, I wasn’t inspired to work with that.) But recently, I came across a NEW question: If your money were a kind of plant, tree, or flower, what would you WANT it to be?
The thing that IMMEDIATELY popped into my head was a white daisy. Simple, pure, easily grown just about anywhere, hardy (not that I know a lot about flowers; this is my perception of a daisy). I don’t necessarily think daisies are the prettiest flower, but for some reason, the simplicity and lack of pretension appealed to me.
Then it occurred to me that a lot of times my financial planner background and upbringing makes me treat my money like it was an ORCHID—which I associate with constant tending, high maintenance, meticulous, fussy, and easy to kill. So very quickly after thinking about this metaphor, I had developed decision criteria for the money in my life: Make daisy decisions instead of orchid decisions. What might a daisy decision look like?
- Choosing simple and easily executed actions over complicated and convoluted ones.
- Believing that the money coming into my life “pops up” like daisies do, instead of requiring constant maintenance like an orchid.
- Instead of believing that getting money requires hard work, believing that money is hardy and easily grown just about anywhere you’d like.
- Letting things grow where they will, instead of constantly trying to herd everything into the greenhouse.
I’m still playing with this metaphor, but I know that every day I’ve meditated on it, I feel a weight released—that weight of expectation that I have to “do” something to maintain my money. When I believe my money is like a daisy, all I have to do is trust that it’s growing on its own — no maintenance by me required!
Flipping your money metaphor
The important thing to understand about this exercise is that we can change our money metaphor on the way to changing our mindset. The simple shift from viewing money as an orchid to viewing it as a daisy is actually a very powerful tool for shifting the way I approach, handle, and make decisions around money. Try it for yourself:
Answer the question: How do you want your money to be in your life? If your money were a kind of plant, tree, or flower, what would you want it to be?
Find the contrast: How has your money previously been for you, and how does a new flower, plant, or tree metaphor help? How does it change your decision-making process or perception of your money?
Find a visual: Find a picture of your new metaphor for your computer or other space so that you can think about your money in this new way several times this week! Emotionally, I gravitate to pictures with LOTS of daisies, even though artistically, I prefer a solitary one. So, notice how the picture makes you feel.