In my speaking engagements lately, I’ve been talking to people about
how to separate emotion from their finances entirely, and especially how
to let go of the negative emotions - shame, fear, anxiety, blame and
stress - that often come with debt.
To let go of all emotion tied to money, I recommend looking at how we as
people, or any individual, is attaching identity to their finance. We all
know what this looks like. The notion that having a lot of money, making
a lot of money, driving a nice car, wearing nice clothes, etc., somehow -
in our own perception and (we hope) other’s perception - we are a
“better” person because of our financial success.
Conversely, so many people believe that financial downturns (we even call
them “failures”) make us “lesser” people if we have identity attached to
our finances. How many people really internalize an emotional feeling of
being “good” in association with a high credit score, and fear that we are
“bad” if we have a low credit score?
What all this means is that a financial downturn, as so many people
around the world are experiencing right now, doesn’t only mean the
actual facts of less money, but also attacks our identity making us feel
“lesser,” which in turn causes the pain, fear, stress and anxiety.
What most people are really looking for when they want to find a way out
of their financial troubles is a way out of the pain and fear than comes
with their financial troubles.
The power to do away with the negative emotions lies within each one of
us as a core, personal power that has nothing to do with the income our
outflow of money.
It has to do with letting go of the identity that we associate with money. If
one can recognize that having more money or making more money (while
great) doesn’t make you a “better” person, then conversely having or
making less money doesn’t make you a “lessor” person.
With that realization, it is easy to let go of the shame debt, because there
is no shame, the debt has nothing to do with your identity. It becomes
easier to share our financial situation with those who could help us,
spouses, family, friends, professionals, because we do not fear that we
will “look bad” in their eyes for having financial concerns, because the
financial concerns don’t say anything real about us as people.
I like to say that “you are not your money, and your money is not you.”
Money comes and goes, like everything, the wave patterns of the
universe, but if your core beliefs - especially about yourself - are not tied
to the wave patterns of your income, then up or down, there is no identity
Kenny Golde is the author of "The Do-It-Yourself Bailout: How I reduced
my credit card debt from $212,000 to $30,000 in six months."