Posted by Lissa Carter, LPCA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! There is nothing scarier than facing our finances!
Believe it or not, conversations about money are an important part of the counseling process. Why?
There is a strong correlation between money issues and worthiness issues.
Now this is emphatically NOT to say that being chronically underpaid or struggling to make ends meet despite working several jobs is your fault. The last thing I want to do is add yet more shame to the money mess.
How much money you make is one thing. Your relationship to money is another.
If it terrifies you to print out a receipt at the ATM because you really, really, really don’t want to know your balance, or you throw your student loan bills away without looking at them, or you cross your fingers every time you swipe your credit card in desperate hope that it goes through, that’s actually not about money.
It’s about fear.
We humans really only have two behaviors in our repertoire: approach, or avoid. When we fear something, we avoid it, because fear is uncomfortable.
Do you see the problem here?
If you fear money, you will avoid it.
Regardless of how much money you make, the first step to financial security is always going to be the ability to approach money.
If you don’t know what you’re working with, you can’t make a plan.
Many cultures hold the belief that this time of the year is a potent time of change, because the veil between the worlds is thin. What better time to face your fears and create change?
So pour yourself a cup of tea, light a candle, sit down with a journal and a pen, and boldly face your finances by answering the questions below.
FACING FINANCES WORKSHEET
1. How have you used money to create value in your life?
(taking out student loans to educate yourself, investing in travel that broadened your mind, buying good quality hiking shoes for your camping trip, paying the heating bill so you could be comfortable in the wintertime, buying seeds to plant vegetables, paying for ingredients to bake a cake for a child’s birthday, finding the perfect gift for a friend, etc.)
2. Describe a time when you’ve been able to act generously, and how it made you feel.
(Perhaps you gave a sandwich to a hungry person, or donated to a cause you believed in, or treated your friend to a latte)
3. How would the lives of your family and friends be improved if you were more financially secure?
(would you give extra time and attention, behave with less anxiety, participate in family trips, treat friends to meals, etc.)
4. If one million dollars flowed to you right now, how would you spend it? What would you invest in? How would you make your life and the lives of those around you better? What values of yours does this express?
5. What stories have you heard from your family, from your culture, and from your spiritual tradition that make you feel guilty about having money?
(What personality traits come up when you think about rich people? What do you fear others will think about you if you become financially secure? What might you lose by becoming financially secure? What stories about yourself will you have to let go of to become more financially secure? What parts of yourself will be made wrong by getting your finances in order?)
6. Compare your answer to question 5 with your answers to all the previous questions and notice any discrepancies. Would your financial security make other people’s lives worse, or better? Is financial security something that will help you achieve your values, or does it stand against your values?
Questions of worthiness run deep, so be very gentle yourself as you fill out this worksheet.
Were there moments when you could hardly write fast enough to keep up with your thoughts? HOORAY! That’s approach, that’s what we’re going for! Doesn’t it feel different than the stagnant, jittery space of avoidance?
Taking the time to thoughtfully answer these questions for yourself may only be the first step in a long journey, but that first step is the most important.
If answering these questions has lit a fire in you, take some time to decide on one or two action steps to commit to, steps that will get your financial decisions more in line with your values. This can be as simple as deciding to look at your balance the next time you go to the ATM, or as monumental as committing a percentage of your income to a cause you believe in.
Or maybe you will commit to simply bringing money up with your counselor, or your partner, or your friends.
Let's bring money out into the light. It doesn't have to be so scary.
Congratulations on your courage, and happy Halloween!