Identity theft is often in the news. It happens to 15 million people each year in the United States—about 7% of all adults. In Canada, over 6% of the population have their identities stolen.

It’s a challenging experience to realize that someone else can do things as you, impact your future, and make decisions about how to spend your money.

Financial accounts aren’t the only targets. Utilities, phone service, home purchases, rental agreements, and even medical care and new jobs are involved.

Identity theft is alarming. The kinds mentioned above are bad enough, but I see a different form of it all the time.

Are You an Unknowing Victim?

You know those voices in your head that talk to you about money, how relationships work, what to expect from yourself and others, and how things work? How many of those voices are truly you and how many are someone else’s opinions acting like they’re yours?

While that isn’t the same as identity theft, in some ways, it still results in similar outcomes…

Other people’s thoughts and beliefs are making choices and taking actions that you may never have considered or consciously decided to make yours.

Try This Exercise

Make some time for yourself. Grab something to write or record your answers. And then sit quietly, get centered, and ask yourself, “What do I believe about money?”

Just record every answer that comes to mind.

Once you’re done with that part, go back to your list of answers. For each one of them, ask, “Whose voice do I hear?” or, “Who taught me this?” Did I choose to think and act this way or is it a tricky form of identity theft?

The odds are very high that, unless you experienced an extreme situation in your life that caused you to form the far opposite of your family’s beliefs, most of your thoughts and beliefs about money are the beliefs of others that you first imitated and then adopted as your own when you were still quite young and inexperienced.

You can continue doing this exercise for relationships, the opposite sex, your abilities and challenges, and any other areas of life that you want to change or where you feel limited.

While it takes time and some work, if you keep working through your thoughts and beliefs, eventually you’ll have a chosen identity that works for your life. You’ll be you instead of a borrowed version of other people.