What’s Holding You Back From Financial Freedom? Vol 7: Fear of Discussing Money

EAFA Fear of Discussing Money

EAFA Fear of Discussing Money

What’s Holding You Back From Financial Freedom
Vol 7: Fear of Discussing Money

Part 7 in Vicki Arndt’s series exploring the relationship between wealth and beliefs. In this article, Vicki discusses the common obstacle: fear of discussing money.

Most of us have fears about discussing money. Why don’t I make as much money as my friends? What if I invest and lose money? Why did I accumulate all of this debt? What if I don’t have enough to live comfortably the rest of my life? I worry that my family or partner will find out I’m not good at managing my money.

Embedded in these thoughts are feelings of inadequacy and shame. You know the feeling: You feel inadequate and afraid of being judged about how you manage your money, or if your financial situation isn’t what you think it should be. We all feel particular shame when we fall short in our own comparison with others.

Where do these feelings come from?

I have long studied the relationship between money and our upbringings. Naturally, much of our early learning comes from our families. Whether rich, poor, or in-between, few families openly discuss financial decisions, how to manage money, or other factors around the family’s financial position. There is tremendous secrecy about money. So as adults, we are ill-equipped to engage in healthy dialogue about financial matters. Parents try to protect children from worry, but if parents are worried, children feel and then absorb it.

Our early experiences have a direct impact on how we perceive money and its role in our lives. For example, if you grew up poor, you might find that you have a need to accumulate or, conversely, are afraid of spending. If you grew up rich, you might have a hard time adjusting to an income that is less than what you’re used to or you may live in fear of losing what you have.

Are my perceptions around money even true?

We also have lots of perceptions surrounding money that may or may not be true. The guy driving the fancy Mercedes who lives in the best neighborhood looks like he has it all together. However, what you may not know that he rents his house and leases the Mercedes. This gentleman makes a good living but he spends every dime, so he can never accumulate any assets. Likewise, the person who lives in a simple house and drives an old car may be sitting on a gold mine. Again, we form perceptions early in our lives that guide us for good or bad from then on. These perceptions can be roadblocks to our peace of mind.

Over the years, I have encouraged many clients to look inward to relieve the relentless pressure they feel. I become the safe sounding board for open conversation regarding their deepest concerns, and together we create a road map to a more confident relationship with money. There is no question: Financial concerns are a primary topic of psychotherapy sessions. I have had many mental health professionals share this with me.

It’s common knowledge that money is also one of the biggest issues between couples. My belief is, again, we are not trained to openly discuss the personal issues we have regarding money. As simple as this sounds, our freedom from worry is linked directly to our ability to “tell our story” to someone. The more we open up and realize others have similar issues, the more comfort and freedom we will find. Money is not more powerful than we are. If it controls us, this is power we have given away.

The steps to beginning the conversation look like this:

  1. Find someone in your life with whom you can be completely honest without judgement.
  2. Tell your story and hear your story – it’s not enough to just talk, you must also listen to yourself.
  3. Begin to ask questions and follow them where they lead you. Why do I feel this way? What is one thing I could do today to improve my relationship to money? What did my parents teach me about handling finances? Do I believe I am worthy of financial security?
  4. Sit with the feelings these questions bring forward. Try to resist the urge to fix it right away. Sitting helps you realize that fears are perceptions which can be changed.

These steps will start you on a path to feeling free to discuss money with your loved ones and friends. Keep telling your story. You will find you’re not alone. There is nothing that relieves our fears more than knowing we aren’t the only ones who struggle.

One last comment: As a parent, I never wanted my children to grow up with the same shame and inadequacy – about money or anything else – I felt in my early years. So I have broken that mold by being open, honest, and never making them feel inadequate for making a mistake. I never want my children to feel badly about asking for help or offering it. We can share our dreams, goals, bank account values, screw-ups, and there is no judgement. Instead we talk it out and offer solutions.

I know these old patterns can be broken. I am living proof.

How has fear of discussing money held you back from taking control of your finances and building wealth? Let’s talk about how you can break that pattern. Financial freedom isn’t for other people – it’s for you.

With you at every stage,

Vicki Arndt
Founder & Senior Investment Advisor

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