Could How You Self-Identify Affect Your Finances?
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My friend Dave and I recently saw the movie The Spy starring Melissa McCarthy. Melissa plays a CIA Agent who works as an analyst, but has never actually worked in the field. When an opportunity comes up to go into the field, no one can believe she is really qualified, because she is kind of timid and “doesn’t really look like your typical Agent.”
It was actually a pretty funny film, but there was one tiny thing that kind of bugged me.
On the way home we discussed the movie. I said that although I love Melissa, I get kind of sad that she is always playing the frumpy character who gets kicked around in life a bit. Like if you are not “Hollywood hot” in the film, then somehow you are playing kind of a low life. My thought was that the more Hollywood makes these films, the more we perpetuate stereotypes of overweight, non-smokin’ hot women. Meaning, why can’t Melissa play just a woman character? Why does she always have to be making fun of herself and the way she looks? Does doing so model unhealthy behavior, eating or otherwise, for others to follow?
Dave on the other hand thought of it completely different. He thinks it’s great Hollywood is bringing to light these subjects, because after all, in the end her character proved everyone wrong and she totally kicked ass. I seriously don’t think I was giving away any plot spoilers by saying that. 🙂
He mentioned Amy Schumer’s comedy, and how she is always creating skits that make fun of Hollywood stereotypes and women stereotypes, like how if you’re a woman over a certain age in Hollywood you’re “undatable (they use a more R rated word).” Do we really need to point out and say out loud that women of a certain age are “undatable,” or are we just bringing to light what is really true as far as stereotypes? For the record, I love Amy’s work.
I say all this because I’ve always been interested in psychology, and how our self-talk impacts our lives either positively or negatively.
I have a friend who is constantly talking about how she is carrying an extra 20 pounds and wants to lose the weight. I get having a one on one conversation about it, but she brings it up at dinner with friends, and pretty much every single time I see her. Now instead of seeing someone who is pretty and whose weight I hardly noticed, I can’t help but be focused on that, and feeling uncomfortable about it as well, because what am I supposed to say?
I wonder at what point she has said that so many times to herself that she actually now takes on the identity of someone who has 20 extra pounds on their frame.
Conversely, what if she said something more along the lines of, “I’m feeling really good but I’m always working towards living a more healthy life.” In a way she is acknowledging she has some work to do, but also being a little kinder to herself as well, and making people at the dinner table feel less awkward.
So What does this have to do with personal finance?
I think a lot. Are you always telling yourself, friends, and family, “I can’t because I’m broke.” Or, “I feel like I’m never going to get out of debt!” Do you constantly reinforce a negative state you don’t want to be in, and call attention to it outwardly?
I think you always need to choose your words carefully when you self-talk, because after awhile, you become exactly who you say you are.
If you think more like Dave, saying it as is brings to light the truth. For instance if you say you are broke, then you are honestly acknowledging where you are today and not sugar coating it. And not trying to pretend to be any different than what you are.
I guess like many things there is a compromise in there somewhere, but I’m curious to know your thoughts.
Do you think you should positively spin something negative you might be going through, or just flat out tell it like it is? Do you see a compromise in there somewhere? How do you talk about finances? Do you usually complain about how you have no money or focus on what you do have or have already accomplished?
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