Not everyone has a healthy relationship with or emotions toward money. Some struggle and, for them, emotions and money can be a strange combination. If you find yourself in this situation, you may find my first article very helpful in understanding how your emotions affect your financial wellness journey. Now, let’s delve deeper into what exactly those negative emotions may be and how they can be managed.
The term negative emotions covers a wide range of emotions. It takes some amount of emotional intelligence to identify what emotion, specifically negative, that one is feeling, what triggers it and how to respond to it. To make this task easier for you I have done some research regarding the most common negative emotions associated with money.
Anxiety and Fear
These emotions are associated with feelings of apprehension, uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill. A person who grew up poor or had previously suffered a great financial loss may be anxious or fearful when thinking of the management of money. Considering that in 2019 about 34 million people in the US live in poverty ~10% of the US population may share these feelings. From my personal experience, I will share 3 tips that helped me overcome fear and anxiety when managing my finances:
- Incremental Exposure – No one looks forward to an activity that they dislike, therefore, lowering the frequency of exposure can make the task appear less daunting. Before being able to review my budget every week, I only reviewed it once a month. With this, I was able to reduce my exposure to fear and anxiety but still got what I wanted done.
- Rewards – Give yourself an incentive to carry out a task that you fear but will get you closer to your financial goals. For example, I was always anxious when looking over my statements to see exactly where my money went, because I was always overspending by using credit cards (like millions of Americans). As an incentive to make this activity more bearable, I would occasionally treat myself to a trip to Starbucks for an Iced White Chocolate Mocha.
- Find Experts – There are many experts who have years of knowledge and experience in the many aspects of financial wellness and who have published their work. Lucky for many this wealth of information is available at little to no cost. When I became overwhelmed with my debts I turned to experts on YouTube, Bloggers and debt management literature to guide my actions. My fear was that I just didn’t have the knowledge and information to properly manage my debt.
Shame and Guilt
These painful emotions may be caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. These feelings can affect anyone regardless of class or socioeconomic background. Guilt may be experienced when you perceive your actions negatively affect another person, while shame may be experienced when you perceive you have fallen short of expectations. Shame and guilt are challenging emotions to overcome, but it helps to keep in mind that money does not define one’s value as a person nor does it determine the strength of your character. Money is simply an inanimate object exchanged for goods and services. Switching from your initial mindset requires actively correcting or ‘unlearning’ the behavior(s) developed from your negative emotions.
I hope this helps you recognize what emotions are preventing you from achieving your financial goals. Whether it is fear or guilt, acknowledgement and acceptance are the first steps in managing your emotions. As you begin to manage your emotions regarding money, you’ll find managing your finances becomes a lot easier.