The Devil on my Shoulder

Posted August 3rd, 2013 by Mimi

I'm wondering if anyone else believes that we're often prone to oversimplifying issues in our lives that are really more complex than they appear. There's this thing I've heard termed 'internal self talk' that has often had me go off the rails in my life, despite my best intentions.

It's the little Devil on my Shoulder.

For example, let's look at how difficult many of us find saving money.

Frequently, including here on Simple Savings, we're told that we just have to spend less than we earn. Yes, that is the key.

But the things that bring us to overspend are frequently due to that little internal voice. A little voice that's hard to control.

As a single mum, years ago, I always seemed to struggle financially. I had three children, two at high school, one with a severe disability, and only me to bring home the bacon. It meant making hard decisions sometimes such as:

Having our phone on incoming calls only

Driving an old car, or not having a car at all

Borrowing DVDs from friends and family instead of hiring them

Having no TV at all, then only a tiny portable one given to us when our big one blew up

Having a tiny fridge until we could afford to buy a better one, then still only buying a second hand 'better' one for $150

Using a single bed with cushions along the back of it as a lounge for a few years, until someone gave us one. It was black vinyl and peacock blue nylon. Hated the colour. Loved having a lounge instead of a bed to sit on.

....and so on.

All that, yet we still struggled.

It was partly due to my ingrained habit of looking after other members of the family. We were all taught to support each other in tough times, and as much as I was doing it tough, sometimes brothers or sisters were doing it tougher, so they'd come to stay and become an additional drain on the finances. I couldn't say no though, as that was going against a family mantra. (The Devil on my Shoulder says "I must look after my siblings").

It was also partly due to making stupid decisions like eating out once a week, even when we were struggling. I saw it as our one luxury, and my one way of making my sons feel they had a good life, and yet it cost us more than a third of our weekly budget. (The Devil on my Shoulder says "I must show my sons that I love them enough to spoil them").

It was also due to overspending at op shops and sales. Really. I was so convinced that a bargain was a good thing, that I'd buy up swathes of stuff that we didn't really need, just because it was cheap. (The Devil on my Shoulder says "I'd better grab this bargain because I'll never see it again and I don't want to miss out).

These days, I think the self talk is pretty openly advertised...I deserve this, I'm special, I'm unique, I am loved, I can have this NOW. That is certainly what I hear coming from the radio, television, and out of the mouths of people we know.

"We're going away to Vegas for our anniversary. We paid for it on credit card. We deserve it".

"We bought a new car. It was a once in a lifetime deal".

"We're taking the kids to Fiji for the holidays. It's our special time together".

There's nothing wrong with any of that really. But bemoaning your dire financial situation three months later, is likely to fall on deaf ears. And the trouble is, that the Devil on your shoulder is now saying 'You twerp, you shouldn't have done that. You knew you couldn't afford it', but it's too late.

The Devil on my Shoulder doesn't help my weight loss efforts either.

He tells me that it's okay to eat larger portions in Winter, that it's okay to be a bit squishy around the middle at my age, that I don't have to walk when it's raining, that my friends say I always look nice, so it doesn't matter, that my family loves me anyway....and so on.

The Devil on my Shoulder prevents me from decluttering.

He tells me that I might need that one day, that Mum would be disappointed that she left me her 'things' and I discarded them, that I might never get that thing again, that my sons or daughter might like get the drift.

What I need to do is tell The Devil on my Shoulder to sod off. I've got things to do.

But it's not easy, is it?

What does The Devil on your Shoulder whisper in your ear?

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