Becoming wiser with money presents us with a quandary. The skills you are trying to acquire to transform yourself are those possessed not by the person you are, but by the person you are becoming. How does the person you are now know what it will be like to become what you could be? How do you know that becoming that person is even a wise move? We need a way of testing before we can’t turn back. Leaps of faith are terribly exciting, but sometimes it’s better to build a bridge.
Scrooge doesn’t change because he’s frightened – he changes because he’s haunted. We can be frightened of gaining weight, but that alone probably won’t cause us to change our diet. Haunting is different. It makes us feel – makes us alive to – some fact about the world, some piece of information that we’re trying to avoid.
What knowledge is Scrooge trying to avoid? […] Ultimately Scrooge changes because the ghosts unpick his delusion that you can live a life without loss. They undo his delusion by haunting Scrooge with the losses he has already experienced, the losses now being endured around him, and the inevitable loss of his own life and possessions.
Dickens’ story teaches us another lesson: Scrooge can’t redo his past, nor can he be certain of the future. Waking on Christmas morning, thinking in a new way, he can change his present – change can only take place in the here and now. This is important because trying to change the past can leave us feeling helpless, depressed.