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How To Shift Financial Shame

Feel like you should be further ahead with your finances? Or finding it hard to recover emotionally from a mistake you made with your money? Then shame might be holding you back.

When it comes to money, shame can pop up in all sorts of guises. We might feel embarrassed to ask for a discount. At the other end of the scale we might feel ashamed of our income or financial assets (or lack of them) or not getting a promotion or pay rise. It might be our financial behaviour that leaves us red-faced. We got a parking fine, missed a bill, had a spending blowout, or squandered our savings. It may also arise if we are earning more or have greater assets than our peers or family members. Or if we are criticised for the type of work we do or how much or how little we work. Different to guilt, shame arises from an internal feeling that we are bad, not just our behaviour or decisions. It involves making a judgement about ourselves. If shame is slowing you down, here is how to lift its weight from your shoulders. 1) Be aware of it As with any negative emotion the starting point for change is becoming aware of its presence. Look at your thoughts or statements about yourself and money. How often are you repeating phrases such as: ‘I am terrible with money…’ ‘I’m such an idiot for buying that car..’ ‘I should have known better..’ It may also show up as secrecy or silence. When are you keeping quiet about your financial actions or situation? Or are there particular people that cause you to be secretive or silent? 2) How can you shift shame? When we feel ashamed about our finances we become paralysed or stuck. What is one thing you can do to help shift the shame? If you are ashamed of your lack of financial understanding can you enrol in a course or make an appointment with a financial planner? If you are ashamed of a mistake you made with your money, try refraiming the experience in your mind. Realise that mistakes are part of the experiment of life. Examine what led to the mistake – was it a lack of knowledge, inadequate homework, being impulsive – and are you ashamed of the impact it’s had on others, the missed opportunity or was it a public failure? Is shame arising from comparing yourself with others? Again, refraiming your

thoughts – each person travels at their own speed in life – can help arrest the unhelpful comparisons. 3) Move forward Refocus on what you would like your finances to look like. If you are constantly missing bills or failing to save, automating payments can short-circuit the shame spiral. Finding a safe, non-judgemental space to talk about money can give you a fresh start. Is there someone you can talk to or a supportive group where you can admit you don’t know enough or would like to learn more about money? When we open the door to talking about money more freely shame is less likely to hold us back.


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