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A major challenge to healing emotions regarding money is that many of us have learned poor coping skills when it comes to money, often stemming from our cultural and societal conditioning. Often we block our negative emotions by denying their existence, by pushing them aside, or by trying to ignore them altogether. Of course, these avoidance techniques only work for a period of time.
So why do we have poor coping skills when addressing negative emotions? We have learned that our feelings can create problems, so naturally we try to sidestep them. Ironically, problems arise not because we have these feelings but because we pay no attention to them. But ignoring hard feelings does not make them go away. In fact, this challenging cycle will continue to play an active role in your life — especially when it comes to your money.
Unlocking Your Emotions
Over the years, I have found four common emotions that arise when it comes to money. These feelings do not exclusively exist in women, since men also experience them, but in a different way. When not addressed and processed properly, these emotions can contribute to having an unhealed inner money reality. They can cloud your financial judgments and take away your power over money. These four feelings are fear, guilt, shame, and anger.
Fear is perhaps the most common emotion we have — not just about money but about changing and stretching beyond our comfort zone toward the unknown. The hesitation many women experience with money usually centers on not having enough or fearing that whatever they have will be taken away or that they will lose it all. These feelings are connected to doubt and vulnerability. If you were exposed to this type of money anxiety while you were growing up, it can continue to resonate with you and has likely led you to re-create money drama in your life.
One common scenario is being afraid that you won’t be able to pay the bills because there is not enough money. However, this fear can go much deeper. For example, many women fear becoming “bag ladies.” In fact, nearly half of all women in the United States fear this — including those in households earning more than $200,000 a year — according to the 2013 Women, Money, and Power Study.
This statistic is a good example of how fear can control women. We women can be terrific worriers, even about events that are unlikely to happen. The fear of becoming a bag lady focuses on not being able to provide for yourself or your family, losing everything you have (including your ability to make a living), having someone take your money, or losing it all and becoming homeless. The fear also includes getting trapped in the cycle of dependency on other individuals or the government. What this really represents is a sense of being powerless and unable to survive.
I could go on providing examples of fear caused by the perspective of lack. However, there is also the fear of failure that can plague female professionals who have already experienced a high level of success. I have personally experienced this, and so have other high-achieving women with whom I work. The good news is that we have the power to work through the fear and to experience freedom on the other side.
Many women can identify with the emotion of guilt, especially when it comes to money. Guilty spending is a common money habit for women. You can recognize it when you find yourself telling others:
“I feel guilty whenever I’m spending instead of saving.”
“I rarely buy anything unless it’s on sale.”
“I feel stressed out whenever I go over my budget.”
Guilt as related to money usually stems from old fears and messages from childhood and is usually tied to not having had enough.
There is another side to guilt. It is in our nature as women to be nurturers, even to the point of martyrdom. This can show up in your willingness to spend and buy for others instead of yourself. This guilt can even lead you to give away money and lend money to family and friends, even when you know it will not be returned. This type of guilt leads to many women feeling more comfortable with giving than receiving and with being viewed as selfless.
The emotion of guilt can also be experienced by women who have become very wealthy. They feel guilty for having more money than their family or friends, so they may downplay their wealth or success.
Of all the emotions regarding money, shame is perhaps the most difficult to endure. The emotion of shame cuts very deep to the core of who you are. It is based on the concept of not being “good enough,” of being less than others, of having low self-worth, and of not deserving what you have. It points to being inadequate or flawed in some way.
As author Brené Brown notes, shame is “basically the fear of being unlovable.” We have all experienced shame because it is a primal and universal human emotion. Yet many of us are afraid to talk about it, and because of this, it can continue to control our lives.
The emotion of anger regarding money can leave you closed off emotionally and physically from others. It can keep the situation that you are angry about fresh in your mind, body, and spirit. The anger can also lead to blaming others for your challenging situation. In effect, anger and blame turn away money, opportunities, and people. The emotion of anger regarding money is based on believing in the unfairness of life and/or the unfairness of money. The resulting blame is another way of directing anger at yourself or others.
If this is the case for you, perhaps you are angry at yourself for how you have handled your money. Perhaps you are angry at yourself, or someone else, for missing a great opportunity. Perhaps you blame your parents for letting you down in regard to money when you were growing up. Or maybe you blame your spouse or partner for letting you down with money. Most of all, maybe you are angry at having to start over again after having made poor money decisions.
Anger and blame can lead to trust issues and believing that every cent of your money has to be protected because others might take advantage of you. They can even result in hoarding. Most of all, they can lead to feeling deprived in some way, prevented from attaining what you really want.
Some Self-Sabotaging Actions
Let us now examine four major ways in which women engage in self-sabotage: underearning, undercharging, undervaluing, and unclear boundaries. These actions are guided by your beliefs, habits, attitudes, and emotions, and by your relationship with money. If these issues are left unexamined, money problems will persist, thereby keeping you from experiencing the joy, wealth, satisfaction, and success you desire.
I have known many women trapped in the category of underearner — and it is seldom a conscious choice. Essentially, you are an underearner when your income is not reflective of your skills, talents, and potential, despite your efforts. You are also underearning when, even though you work very hard, logging long hours, you know you are not earning what you deserve for the value you provide. This can leave you feeling less confident, frustrated, and stuck. It can also cause you to give away your power by blaming others or external factors for your situation.
Another action that can limit financial prosperity is the practice of undercharging, which is similar to underearning. Many women tend to overdeliver and undercharge. Many women want to please everyone, even at their own expense. This pattern can become a normal way of doing business, even when deep inside, you may resent it. With this self-sabotaging pattern of trying to buy approval, you can become self-critical and start to blame yourself.
The third major action that prevents women from generating greater financial prosperity is the habit of undervaluing themselves and their time. Here are some common examples that indicate that you may be undervaluing yourself and the products, services, or work you provide. These include but are not limited to:
- undervaluing your time and giving it away for free
- discounting your prices when people request it
- discounting your prices even when people do not request it, and secretly resenting it
- overworking and doing everything yourself, then feeling overwhelmed and exhausted
A vital way to honor your value is to offer your work only to those who value it because they are more likely to benefit, to use it for their highest good, and in turn, to help others, creating a positive domino effect.
The fourth major action that limits women’s prosperity and success is having unclear personal boundaries. I define personal boundaries as having rules, guidelines, and limits as to what is permissible in how others behave toward you. Your boundary defines who you are as an individual. Having well-developed personal boundaries is key to having satisfying relationships and self-confidence.
Often, it is difficult to recognize this dynamic, making it a major blind spot for women regarding their money. Having unclear boundaries can show up for you in the following ways:
- Clients not paying on time
- Clients dropping out of your program(s)
- Consistently going over time (for service-based businesses)
- Consistently being relied on to work overtime in your job
- Attracting clients, customers, or colleagues who are demanding and high-maintenance
- Saying yes when you really mean no in all areas of your life, including with money
- Experiencing difficulties regarding money conversations with clients, partners, banks, financial professionals, your spouse, or family members
- Failing to be completely clear regarding your policies, often skipping these discussions with new clients
If you identified with the emotions of fear, guilt, shame, or anger, take heart, because you are definitely not alone. At some point in our lives, we have all felt these emotions. And this is actually a good thing because you can now face them with courage and grace. It is also normal that you may even feel a sense of failure about some of your choices and actions with money.
I truly believe that there are benefits to failure. I am not glorifying the experience of failure, since having been there myself, I know how painful it can be. However, I do believe that in moments of failure, a seed of learning and insight has been planted that can, if we are willing to pay attention to the lesson, lead us to a feeling of freedom. This insight can also lead us to take action, despite our fear of failure.
Moving Past the Emotions That Stand between You and Prosperity
With my clients I often share a powerful ten-step exercise that focuses on forgiveness and letting go of what no longer serves you. While this may not seem relevant to money, it actually is because the act of forgiveness will truly set you free. And this feeling of freedom will enable you to release any related or lingering negative emotions of anger, fear, worry, and the like. The act provides you with an opportunity to forgive the past and the people who have shaped your beliefs, habits, and attitude regarding money. More important, it provides you with an opportunity to forgive yourself for the actions you have or have not taken with money.
Forgiving is extremely hard for many people to embrace. You may not be ready for it to happen all at once. It may need to happen as a process over time. Either way, forgiving is a vital aspect of healing your relationship with money.
Remember, forgiving is not something you do for the sake of others. Forgiveness is something you do for yourself as part of an “emotional decluttering.” What you are really doing is focusing your energy on more positive pursuits and making space for the good that you desire.
Copyright ©2018 by Meriflor Toneatto.
Reprinted with permission from New World Library
Money, Manifestation & Miracles: A Guide to Transforming Women’s Relationships with Money
by Meriflor Toneatto
Author Meriflor Toneatto, an award-winning leadership and coaching executive, shows you how to extend your limits and create the life of your dreams, one that is rich and fulfilling in every way — financially, spiritually, and emotionally. This powerful book explains how money is “emotional currency” and prescribes eight Holistic Principles that help you overcome deep-seated blocks, “pay forward” your own successes, and live the life of your dreams.
About the Author
Meriflor Toneatto is a professional coach, speaker, and entrepreneur. She is the CEO and founder of Power With Soul and creator of the Millionaire Difference Makers™ Path, specializing in helping ambitious women entrepreneurs, professionals, and leaders reach financial prosperity and success while fulfilling their social promise in the world. Visit her website at https://meriflor.co/
- Kate Gardner
- Meriflor Toneatto
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