Money is Not a Dirty Word
I'll be honest with you, my pits and palms are obnoxiously sweaty right now. This happens every time I begin to share an article that is deeply personal to me, so get ready for some real talk. Today, I want to talk about money and why is is so god damn important that we change up our beliefs around money. Right now.
Money, and my financial situation, are some of the few topics that I shy away from. Frankly, I'm an open book. From my sexual trauma to my battles with mental illness, I have zero problem sharing my stories with the world.
Unless you want to ask me about my finances. In that case, I'm suddenly incapable of conversation. Or when I do talk about it, I'm suddenly an anxious mess with tears streaming down my face and an overwhelming feeling of doom clutching my shoulders.
Or at least, this was me. I've been struggling with shame and embarrassment about my debt for years. Through a divorce and world travel and starting a business, I let my debt situation get out of control, fast. Problem was, it was continuing to get worse because I was so embarrassed about my situation that I refused to ask for help or advice.
Until I got absolutely fed up with this narrative. I decided I could not let my financial anxiety control my life anymore or suck the happiness out of my day. It was too exhausting and it's keeping me from doing my best work. So I slowly began to talk about it. I sought advice. I listened to podcasts. I read amazing books, like Money, A Love Story by Kate Northrup. I continue to do all these things.
I'm not financially free yet. However, I am free of financial anxiety and that works for me. Let me take you through some of the big lessons I had to learn:
There is nothing wrong with money
If you are anything like me, you’ve been brought up around a culture, household, or religion that says things like:
“Money is the root of all evil.”
“Rich people are greedy or cheated their way to the top.”
“You can’t buy happiness.”
Honestly, these statements couldn’t be further from the truth. The notion that money is evil, or good or bad, is just crap. Money is not capable of having these characters. Money is simply a tool to exchange value.
Rich people are not bad either, although this makes for a great plot line in a novel or movie. When I sat down and really thought about my exposure to rich people as a child, I quickly realized that I didn’t have much exposure at all. The few rich kids I knew at school made a show out of their wealth. The few rich adults I knew still seemed to have many issues and weren’t all that happy. As a young adult, I worked in a wealthy area of town as a waitress and was mistreated every day by people who seemed to act like their money made them much better than me.
So yeah, I did not have a good view of wealthy people, at all. Even to this day, I personally know very few “rich people” and hardly anyone who is the kind of rich that I want to be. Because yes, I damn well want to be rich.
Did you have a reaction to that statement? That’s okay. A couple years ago, I would’ve rolled my eyes at this declaration or felt annoyed at the “greed of some people.”
I have come to learn that the word rich may mean something different to me than it does to you. I also believe that while the statement, “you can’t buy happiness” is technically true, you can certainly obtain wealth that reduces your stress and anxiety. In some ways, buying happiness.
My definition of rich will, of course, be different than yours. Just let my words be a reference for you to what, I hope, encourages you to write your own meaning of the word “rich.”
If I was rich, I…
- Would have the freedom to choose how I spend my time
- Would have the time and resources to create incredible relationships
- Would provide a safe space for my family, providing a home and lifestyle that isn’t constantly in fear of stability
- Would be able to support local artists, causes, programs, and charities that I believe in
- Would enjoy less stress and anxiety over how much I can serve or provide
- Would be able to give myself fully to helping others find happiness and self-worth
See? Nothing about needing more stuff or having tons of money. Come to think of it, money was not even mentioned. Does anything on that list sound outrageous or selfish? I sure don’t think so.
For me, wealth is truly all about having the freedom of choice. That’s it.
So let's all get past the idea that wanting or having money is bad. Okay?
You've got to change the dialogue
We all have an internal dialogue that is full of our money beliefs. Whether these were designed through life experience, the things we picked up as youth, or a concept of our personal worth, we've got to witness the thoughts. Once we can see what we believe about our money or our money story, we can move forward.
Stop Waiting on a Savoir
This seems to be a bigger problem with women than men, but it happens with all of us. We have a tendency to play ignorant about our money situation and wait for someone or something to save us. We ignore our financial woes and just hope that the wealthy spouse or giant promotion or inheritance or whatever to come and save us.
Enough of this. We have got to start educating ourselves about our money situation. Take charge and stop waiting for some external circumstance to save you. There are so many resources at our fingertips; please take advantage of them.
Stop Saying "You're Just Not Good with Money"
This used to be me. In fact, I can still hear the little voice in the back of my head that still likes to casually use this line. We've absolutely got to stop saying this.
Here's the thing, the more we repeat something or believe in it, the more it becomes true. If we are focusing all our energy on where we've made money mistakes, we will make them again. If we are constantly taking note of everything we lack in our lives, we will only continue to grow the list.
Change the story.
Enough Self Shaming
Again, I must tell you that I am sharing this advice because I have struggled (and continue to struggle) with all of these concepts. To me, shame and guilt felt like appropriate reactions to my overspending and credit card debt. I would think, Clearly I am a terrible human because I am so irresponsible with my money. How embarrassing!
But guess what? We can't take solid action to change our behavior when we are in a shame hole about it. Just like our spoken statements, when we reflect on how shameful our money situation is, we continue the same patterns. We aren't offering a new option or a new way of feeling about our money.
We have to work to remove the shame so we can focus on moving forward.
You are Worthy of Abundance
Yes, you! You are absolutely worthy of having the life you desire, whether that simply means living debt free or owning that big house on top of the hill. If you are struggling with worthiness, it can appear in subtle ways.
When you think you aren't enough of something, i.e. I am not smart enough to start a business or I am not talented enough for that job, that is your ego stepping in to self sabotage your path to abundance.
In order to be valued by the world, we must first value ourselves. You are never going to be paid well for your services if you do not believe you are worthy of that abundance.
Love yourself enough to know that you are worthy.
Simple Steps to Changing Your Money Story
Changing your money beliefs is not going to happen overnight. However, we can start taking the steps to rewire our brain and move forwards in a healthier way.
Step #1 - Figure out your money story and beliefs
I challenge you to take some time with your journal and figure out what your money beliefs are. Dive into your upbringing and try to figure out where the beliefs come from. What events happened in your life to create your money story?
Then, see if you can rewrite the story. If your friend came to you with the same problems, how could you see it differently? How can you choose to make new beliefs that will have you walking towards abundance?
Pssttt... I have a money journal prompt for you at the end of this post.
Step #2 - Check in with money daily
Make it a daily habit to check the amount of money you have in your bank account and/or wallet. This is not an opportunity to beat ourselves up or see the lack in our accounts. Rather, use this small step as a reminder that you are taking control of your finances. Find gratitude for whatever if in there.
Better yet, start talking to someone about it. Whether it's a financial adviser or a friend you trust, you've got to start talking about your money. This is tough! Believe me, I am guaranteed to cry 80% of the time when I talk about my finances, but it gets better each time.
Step #3 - Gratitude and Affirmations
This brings us to my favorite step, because it is the one that has worked wonders for me. I challenge you to find gratitude for your finances every single day. Start a gratitude journal and come up with things you are thankful for each day.
I used to feel guilt every single time I spent money, even on things I needed, like food. To break this pattern, I placed an affirmation inside my wallet that I now use every time I spend money: "Every dollar I spend comes back to me multiplied. Thank you."
By changing my normal reaction from guilt to gratitude, I have been able to nearly eliminate my spending anxiety. (To be fair, I still get it with big purchases, but I am working in it!)
I have a variety of affirmations that work for me. They fill the pages of my journal, post-its cover my walls and mirror, and I have reminders on my phone to repeat my affirmations out loud at random intervals.
I'm sharing my story with you to let you know that you're not alone. I am struggling too. I'm still working through these old stories every day, but I'm feeling so much better than I did when I was just ignoring my finances, out of shame.
The journey to feeling confident about your finances is not going to happen overnight. It's not for me anyway. But I know you can do it, because I'm doing it.
I would never have guessed that I would have the courage to share money stories with you, but here I am. I am working through my shame, embarrassment, and doubt. Instead, I am here to proclaim that I am worthy of abundance and financial freedom is on it's way. I firmly believe that.
Journaling, meditation, and affirmations have been my biggest tools for changing my mindset on money. I created a quick PDF with some of my favorite journal prompts and a long list of affirmations for you.
Give yourself a pat on the back for even being interested in reading this post. It is a great first step to reclaiming your money beliefs. If I can sort through this, you can too.
I believe in you!