I don’t know about you, but my heart is breaking while watching all the news these days. So many people are suffering. And while I can’t speak to the healthcare issues plaguing our world, I can speak to some of what I am feeling related to our finances.
Unemployment is reaching an all time high, small businesses are going out of business, people are losing critical healthcare and so many people aren’t able to pay their rent or mortgage payments. As someone, who has spent their entire career talking to people about money, I am saddened to see this is where we find ourselves. Regardless of what got us here, it is important that we acknowledge what this specific crisis is teaching us.
Losing a job or a business you have worked hard to build is devastating. And it is not just due to the loss of money, but to a loss of purpose. So many of us work, not just to pay the bills, but to be of service and contribute to society. We share our skills, our effort, our talents and our soul by doing what we do. We give our all everyday. And in exchange, sure we earn a paycheck, but we also gain so much more. We get to be purposeful in what we do. We provide for our families. We get to have a place to call home. We buy groceries in our towns. We eat at the local restaurants in our neighborhoods. We spend evenings with friends at the local theatre. We buy clothes at our favorite stores. We earn money to take care of those we love.
When we lose the opportunity to contribute, we lose not just money, but meaning. And when that loss is something that’s out of our control, it feels like something has been stolen from us. Paying our bills, as much as we may complain, does feel good in many ways. It shows that we are able to take care of ourselves. It gives us a feeling of accomplishing something. It gives us a feeling of being in control, even if just for a minute.
When we can’t do that, it is easy to let these feelings turn into shame. Shame that we can’t take care of ourselves and others the way we really want to. Shame that, even though we aren’t at fault, we could have done something to prevent this from happening. Shame that in some way, that we could have, should have, would have done something different if we could go back and do it all again.
Shame is different from other emotions. Shame hits you in your gut. You see when you experience shame, you are making a decision about yourself, your worthiness. And it can often feel like you are exposed. Like somebody figured something out about you that you didn’t know or that you wanted to keep a secret.
Shame can manifest in a variety of areas of our lives, from family relationships, interactions with love interest, to work performance. When it comes to money, however, shame is rarely part of the conversation. And what is unfortunate is that this financial shame can often turn to judgment.
It may start with you judging others about their financial status. If you have money, you may make judgments about those that do not. If you do not have money, the reverse can be true.
But here is the point, when we judge others based on their financial status, we are also subconsciously doing the same to ourselves. After all, how can we believe we deserve financial abundance, if we are disapproving of those who have it. If we say one thing, but secretly think another, we just end up in a state of confusion. Which can lead to more self-judging, overspending or procrastination.
We may feel there is something wrong with us if we don’t have financial success or if we do, the opposite can hold true. We may feel we have to apologize for having it or desiring it. All these feelings, emotions and judgements eat away at our mindset and keep us from making any significant progress.
But there is hope. With every breakdown in life, there is an opportunity for a breakthrough. How can we experience a breakthrough in this situation? First, we have to see what lessons we need to learn.
Over and over again, I have been hearing statistics that talk about how many American’s are living paycheck to paycheck. How 40% can’t afford a $400 emergency expense. How did we let this happen? Perhaps the lesson here is to be an activist for the things you believe in. Fight for the right to equal pay. Fight for the right to earn a living wage. Fight for everyone to have access to healthcare. Or perhaps, it is time to take ownership of the financial decisions we have made within our own lives. Are we living beyond our means? Buying stuff rather than putting money away for emergencies or our future? Are we living with a YOLO (you only live once) philosophy or making sure we balance enjoying today, while also taking care to protect our families and ourselves? Where do you stand in all this?
We may not be able to change what is happening right now, but we can choose how we are going to respond. We don’t have to let shame take over. We can choose to take this opportunity to make different decisions going forward. We can choose to put away a little money from our pay to take care of an emergency, a job loss, or a potential opportunity. We can choose to protect our income through insurance. We can choose to invest in our future, even if that means sacrificing something we want now. We get to choose.
Choose to value who you are by taking control of your financial wellness. Choose to rebound from this with the same purpose and intentionality that you do with everything else. You can take control of your finances. You can listen to those giving advice and get into action. You can make a difference for your future.
We, at myWorth, exist to empower our community to have all the knowledge needed to do this. Whether it’s in times of uncertainty, planning for the future, or setting ourselves up for long term success, we’re here to help. Let’s turn this breakdown into a breakthrough by owning our financial wellness now and into the future. We can get through this. And together, we can accomplish great things.
Ande began her 20+ year career as an adviser and quickly realized that many people weren’t taking into account was how emotions play a huge factor in financial decision making. Leaving behind her practice to focus solely on educating both advisers and consumers alike, she became an expert in behavioral finance. Author, speaker, thought leader, and money educator, Ande is helping women to take control of their money.
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