Heal your money shame in 3 simple steps

It's no mystery that the road to wealth can come with some emotional turmoil. Anyone who tells you that you should leave your emotions out of the picture entirely when it comes to money is misguided. Money is a deeply emotional issue. It's a stand-in for what we value. Our values are inherently personal and emotional. What we think is important has a lot to do with how we feel. Therefore, how we feel plays a big part in our financial picture.

Our emotions can have a significant impact on our behavior when it comes to money. And since our behavior creates our results, it's a good idea to clean up the emotional detritus surrounding our money so we get better results. One of the most common emotions associated with money is shame. We compare ourselves to someone else and feel ashamed when we fall short. We recall the past financial decisions we made and cringe at how off track we got. We think about our current financial pickle that we're trying so hard to sweep under the rug and we squirm, hoping no one will find out about it before we're able to clean it up.

But when it comes to our money, shame doesn't help us make more, invest well, increase our savings, or become more generous. In fact, it just keeps us stuck. So how do we heal our money shame so we can enjoy a healthy financial life?

Here are 3 simple steps to heal your money shame that, when practiced regularly, will create ease, flow, and abundance in your financial life.

Step 1: Tell the Truth.

In my early twenties, I got myself into over $20K in credit card debt. I was a chronic financial avoider. I thought that if I just put my bills in a drawer and ignored the whole situation my debt would magically disappear.

Obviously this strategy didn't work. But what did work was sitting down and getting super clear on what I earned, what I spent, who I owed, how much, by when, and what the interest rates were. Writing it all down and telling the truth about my financial situation made the shame I felt feel lighter immediately. Soon after I got clear on everything I began to get traction paying it off and, in a few short years, my credit card balances were all at zero!

Most often we're lying to ourselves about the reality of our situation. Getting 100% clear on your numbers is a powerful step to lightening the load of shame. Once the truth comes to the light it feels, well, lighter! And, like when you're using a GPS to get directions, you can't get where you're going unless you know where you're starting from.

Step 2: Forgive Yourself.

Chances are good that you made a few financial steps in the past that you wouldn't have made if you were faced with the same choices today. But holding yourself hostage to past mistakes that you can't do anything to fix today will just ensure that you stay stuck.

Instead, practice releasing yourself from the past by letting go and moving on. No amount of beating yourself up or spending time and energy on regret will change the past. But deciding to let go and move forward will at least create a new financial future.

Also, when you forgive yourself for past mistakes (and others, as well) you free up your emotional energy to make smarter financial decisions today and moving forward.

Step 3: Get Into Gratitude.

I don't remember where I heard this, but I love the idea of renaming bills “Invoices for Blessings Already Received.” Any time we have debt, we're simply repaying someone for something of value that we have already received. So instead of looking at your credit card or loan statements with dread, why not get into gratitude? Go through and list out all of the blessings that you're still paying for. Perhaps it was a wonderful family vacation that, though you couldn't pay for it in cash at the time, you're still enjoying the memories from. Maybe it was your college education, medical procedures, or furniture that you're using and enjoying today.

Switching your perspective and focusing on the blessings you've received that you're simply still giving value in exchange for is powerful. This type of gratitude practice is a great way to train your attention on what's good and abundant in your life. And what we put our attention on grows. So, focusing on our abundance will create more of it!

The next time you're feeling shame around your financial situation, remember to bring the truth to the light, find a little forgiveness in your heart, and focus on gratitude. These three simple steps can create an immediate and powerful shift that will lead to lasting change in your financial life.

More about...Psychology, Budgeting, Debt

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Jon @ MoneySmartGuides
Jon @ MoneySmartGuides

You have to be honest not only with others but also with yourself. After I graduated from college I got myself into a good amount of credit card debt. It wasn’t until I was honest with myself as to why I was spending money I didn’t have that I was able to begin to get out of debt. Before I was honest with myself, I would try to stop but couldn’t because I wasn’t acknowledging my depression. It wasn’t easy to admit it, but once I did, a weight was lifted from my shoulders and I was able to take… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I would “like” your comment if I could 🙂

Debi
Debi

So, it’s trouble with the site? I thought it was my computer!

Carla
Carla

I’m having the same “loading….” issue too.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Interesting post! I completely agree with #1 — we have to own up to our mistakes and have an honest accounting of where our finances stand if we have any hopes of moving forward. I’m a little wary of #3 though. I understand where the OP is coming from, but I can see people turning that logic on its head and thinking “Sure, I ran up lots of debt, but look at all the nice stuff/great memories I have!” IMHO, consumer debt isn’t a blessing. I think we can be grateful for the things we already have and try not… Read more »

Matt @ Your Living Body
Matt @ Your Living Body

Agreed…there are a lot of people that could care less about the debt and more about their possessions that they have.

Jane
Jane

GRS should change its name to Get Rich Slowly: the Cross-Promotion Blog.

At this point, as a high profile personal finance blog, Quinn Street should be asking these guest posters to pay to post on here. After all, they are mainly looking to generate more books sales or traffic to their own sites.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie

I think it’s easier to accept the advertising guest posts when they’re on “guest post day” or on “no post day” rather than when they’re on a regular columnist day. That kind of predictability means you know what you’re getting into when you click.

Malcom
Malcom

I agree. The readers story use to be a true reader. Now is someone trying to promote their blog. I have stopped reading the readers story all together.

Blue John
Blue John

You all are complaining about the content from a blog provided to you for free?

Jane
Jane

Complaining? I was rather pointing out an obvious reality. Plus one man’s complaint is another woman’s constructive criticism. I would hope that they do make money off these advertising pieces. Otherwise, I’m not sure why they are increasingly becoming the norm on here.

Blue John’s argument is one of the most annoyingly facile and ubiquitous retorts to blog criticisms. I am fully aware that the blog is free and that I don’t have to read it. The fact is that I want to continue to read it, but transparent cross-promotion is a huge turnoff.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Ever heard the saying “if you aren’t paying for something, you’re the product being sold?”

Online content isn’t “free” when there are ads on the website. Pageviews = ad revenue. So yes, people should complain. It will help publishers better meet their readers needs so they can continue to get pageviews and ad revenue. The real danger is people quietly taking their readership elsewhere.

JAK
JAK

You know, you are free not to click on the “readers” blog. I usually don’t.

Kingston
Kingston

Is there any reason to think they are NOT paying to “guest post” here? Guest post = advertisement.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Ah, I see someone else knows a thing or two about content marketing 🙂

Brian
Brian

You can not hide your head in the sand and pretend the debt will go away by itself. Getting organized and planning are keys to gaining control. There’s no secret, fast track to it, its basic common sense. It just take some longer then other to realize it!

Carol
Carol

I loved this post. Such a refreshing turn from the usual around here, which is shame, shame, shame. Great job!

Sallie
Sallie

Kate I really enjoyed your article here on GRS. I have a lot of shame about money that I struggle with everyday. I’m learning that a lot of my impulse buying and spending ridiculousness is tied to my bipolar disorder. I get such a high buying big ticket items and then the lows set in and I regret the purchases. I feel shame that I didn’t spend the money on payng down the house instead, or paying off a bill. And we’re not talking little things as my weakness is in buying cars. I really liked your idea of paying… Read more »

Shobir
Shobir

Telling the truth about money really makes sense, I know it’s common sense but sometimes it’s easy to forget other people who rely on you financially. We have started to have weekly discussions on money, we always start by finding new ways of making money and then go onto saving money. I think personal finance should be approached in two dimensions, most people think defensively and live a frugal life, I think you should think creatively to make more money. I love this blog, keep the great content coming.

John S @ Frugal Rules
John S @ Frugal Rules

Good post! Like Jon above, I got myself in a similar situation when I was in college and it wasn’t until I became honest with myself and the problem that I started to want to make headway. I think avoidance is the easy thing to do, but once you face up to it you can start to work at what you want to accomplish.

Retired By 40!
Retired By 40!

Tell the Truth: The hardest step for me. If I am not honest with myself, how can I improve? I struggle with this every. single. day.

Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia
Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia

I completely agree that emotions are innately tied to money and financial decisions. There are degrees of separation, but in the end they’re still intertwined. Money impacts nearly all aspects of our life. I think the important thing to do is make sure your financial decisions are made on a purely emotional basis. There does need to be some rational evaluation involved.

Yasmine
Yasmine

Wow this was really awesome! I’ll never look at debt the same way! The word debt was equal to shame for me now I’ll see it as giving blessings back!! Thanks for this!!

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