Philosophy, A Disney Movie, and Personal Finance

One of the philosophies I struggle with is a Sense of Internal Pluralism. The Sense of Internal Pluralism can best be described as a debate by an inconsistent committee of contradictory opinions in your mind. Have you ever felt like you more than one internal voice? Not that you are hearing voices in your head, well maybe you are, seek help. Some people think of the cartoon images of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder trying to tell you what to do.

Me, being a middle age man who had to sit through way too many Disney movies, relate more to the movie Inside Out. If you are not familiar with the movie, it follows a little girl named Riley, who is forced to move from Minnesota to San Francisco. We get to experience all of her terrible first experiences through the eyes of the personifications of her basic emotions – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger – when they come to life and try to influence her actions in her mind’s headquarters.

I have seen Inside Out so many times because, well, it is hilarious and my kids loved it. It also gives you a perspective into how your emotions control your life and every single action and decision you make, even when it comes to personal finance.

You may have never noticed it, but many financial decisions are based more on emotional feeling than actual educated judgement. It is almost like eating for some people. You may eat when you are bored, sad, or happy. Some people shop or spend money for the same reasons. It releases endorphins that fill a need for satisfaction.  Buying that latest gadget from Amazon makes you feel complete.

Have you ever gone to a store or a website and saw something that you really wanted to buy and all of a sudden you begin to try to talk yourself out of it? This is having a Sense of Internal Pluralism. You are almost arguing with yourself mentally and trying to talk yourself off the ledge. The way I picture it is that the characters from Inside Out, specifically Joy, Anger, and Sadness are rumbling inside a room inside my head. They are all trying to push buttons and pull levers that will make my arms and hands move to either make that purchase or walk out of the store or close the laptop.

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Joy wants to walk away and save that money. I don’t need this material thing that will just take up space and that I will eventually get bored with. Anger is pissed that Joy is trying to stop him from buying this incredible thing that will make life unicorns and rainbows. My life will be complete and I will want for nothing if I buy this. Anger is full-out wrestling and punching Joy for the win on this one. Sadness is pretty much over in the corner crying and telling Joy and Anger how much it will hurt his feelings if he can’t buy this item.

Depending on the day and what I am looking to buy determines who might win. Sometimes my mind locks one of the emotions in a closet and I don’t have to worry about it. But there is always an internal dialog that occurs.

I simplified this philosophy big time by comparing it to a Disney movie, but it boils down to the fact that we all have an internal dialog when we make decisions. The goal is to strengthen the emotion and internal voice that you want to follow on a consistent basis. Don’t let that emotion or voice get locked in a closet and become incapacitated when you really need it.

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