How to release your shame around money?
Earlier today, I decided to listen to some inspiring and uplifting messages about personal finance. I logged onto YouTube and found a video. The video began with a short story describing a woman’s spending habits and the speaker finished the story with “one day that women will be a homeless bag lady and regret the decisions she is making today.”
When I heard this, I felt tightness in my chest and the heat of stress and shame rising up in my body. I have had an irrational fear of being a homeless bag lady living alone under a bridge for much of my life and this comment triggered shame that I have around money.
I am a CPA and studied finance. I have read hundreds of books on personal finance and attended webinars, conferences, and events by many well-known experts. I find advice in this industry to be consistently well intentioned and very sound, but sometimes delivered with a hint of judgement. When I consider how much of this messaging I have ingested combined with societal and familiar messaging around money, I am not surprised that I have money shame and fear of being homeless and hungry.
From my work, I also know I am not alone in experiencing fear and shame around money. I regularly hear from clients, regardless of income or net worth, how they are so scared of making a financial mistake and being a financial failure that they are paralyzed when it comes to making financial decisions. They believe they aren’t experts, they aren’t good with money, or they have messed up with money in the past and can’t trust themselves to make the right decision now.
How can we change this? How can we release this fear and shame around money?
It all starts with these two steps:
When it comes to money, are you treating yourself with compassion?
Do you ever tell yourself things like:
- I am not good at money.
- I always make mistakes with money.
- I am irresponsible with money.
- I am not an expert at money.
I have not always treated myself with compassion.I frequently have said the things above to myself when I felt I made a financial mistake, but I didn’t know how to treat myself with compassion.
Luckily, someone asked me, if your daughter made the decision you are berating yourself for, what would you say to her?
I knew immediately, that I would greet her with open arms and wrap her in a big hug and say: You did the best you could with what you knew then. Maybe today you would make a different decision, but you didn’t know or have those resources at the time you made the decision. It is in the past. Now, let’s just work together and see how we can do things differently in the future!’
So, now when if hear myself saying hurtful things to myself, I always think about what I would tell my daughter. It helps me to find love and compassion for myself!
My favorite definition of forgiveness comes from Oprah (you can watch it here). She says, “forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past can be any different. It is accepting that it did happen, not that it was ok that it happened."
- Can you apologize to yourself and forgive yourself for mistakes in the past?
- Can you accept the past for what it was?
- Can you recognize that what happened, happened and you can’t go back and get a redo?
Once you can accept the past for what it is, you can release it and forgive yourself.
Once you have forgiven yourself and acknowledged what you learned from the experience, then you can make a new commitment to yourself. Ask, how would like to show up for yourself in your financial life in the future?
The money shame we carry has built up over many many years and the wound can be very deep so be gentle on yourself. Go slowly. Peel back the shame just one layer at a time and offer yourself compassion and forgiveness on that layer. When you feel the shame again at a later date, offer yourself compassion and forgiveness again and heal that new layer. Slowly over time, you can heal the wounds, but it didn’t happen overnight and it can’t be resolved in one day.
If you want to end the fear and shame in your relationship with money, then start by joining me in my Live Your Money Dreams Facebook group. See you there!