financial therapist wants you to know

21 Things Your Financial Therapist Wants You To Know – PART ONE

One of my podcasts featured a great conversation with Bari Tessler, whom I credit as being the first financial therapist. I thought it would be interesting to discuss a list she published of things a financial therapist wants you to know. Here are the first 10, with my comments.

1. Most of us never received an education in financial literacy or emotional literacy. Money skills are not natural to us; we have to make a conscious choice as adults to acquire both. I contend that it’s almost impossible to have financial literacy without emotional literacy.

2. Money is an emotional subject. When I describe money as having an emotional component, almost everyone instantly agrees. Research tells us that 80 to 100% of all money decisions are made emotionally. It’s just about impossible to separate emotional wellbeing from financial wellbeing.

3. Tough love is not the answer. You may well have had some experience with trying to strong-arm yourself emotionally into overcoming harmful financial behaviors. Like me, you probably have learned that this only works for a short time. We need to create a way to approach ourselves with compassion, gentleness, and patience around our behaviors with money.

4. Money shame is real. Almost everyone carries significant shame around money. Counselors who work with sexual addiction have told me they see more shame around money than around sex. Many financial advisors are not aware of this until they start exploring and disclosing their own personal money issues. Money shame, of course, like a lot of shame, often originates in childhood. It has a huge influence on our present life and on our money decisions, and it will not dissipate until it is brought into our consciousness and dealt with.

5. You are not behind. A traditional financial planner, with good intentions and a focus only on the numbers, might tell you that “You should have started this 10 years ago.” That is not helpful. Bari says that every one of us is on our own unique journey in life and money, and it’s constantly unfolding and evolving as we grow and become more aware. She would say that where you are right now is perfectly on time, and I agree. Acknowledging past mistakes can be valuable; beating ourselves up about past decisions or behavior is not helpful.

6. Give yourself the support you need. We don’t heal from emotional wounds on our own. Typically, we are wounded by other people, and money is one of the instruments that is used. So we’re also healed in relationships with other people. We need support, mentors, and guides who help us on that journey. For financial healing, we might have help from friends and family as well as professionals like financial therapists, financial planners, bookkeepers, accountants, and attorneys.

7. Your body has a lot to say about money. The connection between our bodies and our minds is real. Learning to become aware of your body sensations around your money scripts, your money decisions, and your wounding around money is an important aspect of the journey toward financial and emotional wellness.

8. Money can be deeply meaningful. Money by itself is incapable of bringing meaning to us. But as Jacob Needleman says in his book Money and the Meaning of Life, money supports us in finding meaning in life. Money is indispensable in providing material things as well as supporting the relationships, learning, and experiences that make life worth living.

9. Your relationship with money has the power to transform your life if you’ll let it. Money touches everything in our life, and we can use it to transform ourselves, those around us, our companies, and our communities.

10. You are not alone. Everyone on the planet is on a journey with money. Many people struggle with many of the same issues that you face. Yet there is so much shame around money that talking about money struggles is incredibly hard. Instead of suffering in silence, be kind to yourself and reach out for help and mutual support. These are just the first half of Bari’s points. We’ll cover the rest next week.

Check out The Financial Therapy Podcast by Rick Kahler concerning this topic.

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