Today, I had a triggering conversation about money. In some shape or form, we’ve all been there. Money and financial struggles is a tender topic to talk about, but it’s one that can easily affect our mental health.
Let me just start this off by saying that I have a stable job that allows me to live in a studio all my own, and have my emotional support animal – I realize how fortunate I am. There are plenty of people suffering devastating financial struggles all over the world.
Earlier today, I spoke with my father about how I don’t have enough right now to pay for a certain bill, and he got upset with me. Thinking like the rational lawyer that he is, he was completely right. I did need to pay it now, but I just didn’t have the money available. It turned into a projection from his bad day, but in the end I was left feeling like a failure. I linked my own self worth with how much was in my bank account.
Adulting is really hard – sometimes, we just don’t get it right the first, second, or even fifteenth try and that’s okay. Whether you’re rollin’ in it or stressing over getting gas each week, your self worth doesn’t have a price tag attached to it. You are always good enough – regardless of how much you make financially.
I am not perfect by any means, but here are some tips I’ve learned that can help ease money anxiety:
Banish the shame
How you’ve handled money in the past, or even currently, can lead to a mountain of shame. Whether it’s a lack of money, incorrect budgeting, or simply being unaware of the right practices (I’m still this person, believe me), stop with the shame and realize you are doing the best you can with what you have.
There’s no shame in wanting to be better with money, so don’t feel awkward if you have to bring up the subject with a therapist, partner, friend, or even a family member.
Cut out the comparison
This is a biggie. In my past relationship, this is all I did. My ex did pretty well for himself – much better than I did – and I gave myself some anxiety about that. It’s usually an awkward subject when a partner makes more money than you do, but it doesn’t have to be. Eventually, I realized that I should be proud of him for working hard and doing well financially. While there were moments I felt guilt or embarrassment, I did not need to link my self worth to how much I made compared to him.
Our social media is filled with pictures of people’s trips, cars, and other expensive things. No matter what your friend posts, comparing yourself and your own finances to others will only trigger you.
Here are some things to remember next time you feel the urge to compare money-wise:
- You don’t know what’s in their bank account. While a friend may seem to enjoy plenty of nice things, it could be supplied by credit cards and debt.
- Usually, you don’t see the hard work and sacrifice that goes along with financial success – just the spending.
- Your friends’ journeys are not yours – your experiences are unique.
- Like I previously stated in my post on comparison, people tend to post only the best version of themselves on social media, so our perception is skewed.
- The only person you can change is yourself. Instead of ruminating over the success of others, focus on what you can do to better control your thoughts or make your situation more manageable.
If you find yourself getting high anxiety over your money problems, take control by learning more about it. By turning your unknowns into knowns, you can silence some of the voices telling you you’re not good enough, or not prepared enough, or doing enough with your situation.
Whether that looks like talking to a financial advisor, signing up for a local course in financial management and budgeting, or asking someone for advice who understands your specific situation, you can take matters into your own hands. Once you begin to learn, money stops being a trigger and morphs into something you’re able to understand and control.
No amount of money puts a price on your self worth. If you’re struggling with money or financial problems, learning how to calm those fears and anxiety is a matter of education, understanding, and action – rather than reaction. Rich or poor, you are always good enough.
Do you have anxiety about finances? What tools do you use to cope?