You probably think a lot about the relationships in your life, such as your relationships with people, your relationship with food, and your relationship with fitness. But when you hear the word “relationship,” you probably don’t think much about money.
However, it’s safe to say that many people have an unhealthy relationship with money. This can appear as simple as losing track of credit card debt or associating your worth with your salary.
Having a healthy relationship with money is pretty straightforward but also difficult in our dollar-driven society. According to dasha cherniakovskayaOne financial therapist in Massachusetts, having an optimal relationship with money means “treating money as simply the currency we use to buy goods and services and to save for the future.”
If your relationship is healthy, you naturally view money as neutral, she said. “It would be ideal, but in reality, we all learn to give money its own meaning,” said Cherniakovskaya. Phrases like “money doesn’t grow on trees” or “money is bad” contribute to that non-neutral connotation.
So, how healthy is your relationship with money? Below, experts share the red flags that indicate your outlook on money may be affecting your mental health. (Plus, he offers some advice on how to reframe your thinking to be more financially healthy.)
First things first: If you don’t make enough money to meet your basic needs, it doesn’t mean you have a bad relationship with money.
“If you’re struggling to pay for your living, whether it’s rent or mortgage, or you can’t pay your bills if your basic needs aren’t met, we help you with money.” not talking about the relationship,” said aja evansA licensed mental health counselor who specializes in financial treatment in New York City.
Not earning enough money to meet the basic needs of you and your family doesn’t just reflect a bad relationship with money, it reflects much larger issues in our society.
“We have to make sure you’re in a financial place of some level of stability before you start talking about your relationship with money,” Evans said.
“I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh, I can’t make my bills. My basic needs aren’t met. I have a bad relationship with money.’ It’s not,” she insisted.
Not checking your balance can be a sign of an unhealthy relationship with money.
Avoidance is a coping behavior that mental health experts have identified as being used in many situations. It may seem like not going to the doctor in order to dodge the news on a diagnosis or avoid a difficult conversation with a loved one.
Avoidance is also a coping mechanism within financial treatment. According to Evans, if you find yourself leaning toward procrastination when it comes to dealing with your money habits — such as ignoring your debt or not checking your bank balance — you may be engaging in unhealthy behaviors when it comes to money. are displaying.
“Many people use [avoidance] to face… you swipe [your card] And you hope it happens but then you don’t check,” Evans said. “It’s more about, ‘What am I going to do if this doesn’t go through,'” as opposed to working out a solution based on knowing what’s going on with your finances.
This can cause concern about your financial condition. How can you possibly feel calm if you worry about being declined every time you swipe your card?
So can limiting beliefs around money.
As mentioned above, a healthy relationship with money is neutral. And if you have some limiting beliefs about money, your relationship is anything but neutral, according to Cherniakovskia.
Limiting beliefs are “any belief that isn’t neutral—that money is evil, or that we don’t deserve money,” she said.
Beliefs restrict you (whether subconsciously or consciously) in many ways. For example, if you think money is bad, you may not strive for a promotion because you don’t want to be “greedy” or “evil” after getting a higher salary.
These limiting beliefs can look very different from person to person, but Cherniakowskaia said that to identify your limiting belief, you should think about the rules you had in your family around money as a child. . Was saving money a priority? Were you scolded when you spent the money? Or did your family never discuss money because it was embarrassing?
“It’s important for people to get to the bottom of their limiting beliefs,” Cherniakovskaia said.
If you’re unsure how you feel about money, you can do a simple word association activity, Chernyakovskaya said. “Come up with associations with a few simple words like money, get, give, take, salary, bank, income, employment and see what comes up.”
Are they positive associations or negative associations? From there, you can identify your conscious or subconscious money beliefs, she said.
According to Chernyakovskaya, positive associations involve using money to create security or buy goods and services. Negative associations include anything status-related or thought that money increases one’s desirability.
It’s okay to change these limiting beliefs. Your financial situation is probably different from when you were a child and it may be doubly different if you have a partner’s money beliefs factor in as well.
Another red flag? Comparing your financial situation with that of other people.
You are well aware of the mantra “comparison is the thief of joy”, but you also know that it is almost impossible not to compare yourself with the people around you, especially Since the advent of social media.
However, when it comes to your relationship with money, constantly comparing your financial situation to those around you is unhealthy, Evans said. Especially when you feel sad about it or resent the things you feel you “should” have — like a house or a certain type of car.
If you tie your worth to your finances, you may be struggling too.
Another hint? “If you think your worth is wrapped up in the money you make,” Evans said.
So, if you’re whining about a friend’s high salary or constantly feeling like you don’t deserve as much because of your financial situation, you might want to question why you feel that way.
According to Evans, the opposite is also true – “If you think you are a more deserving person because of your money… [or] Because what’s your salary,” you should also assess your thought process.
Not being able to accept gifts is also a sign of poor relationship with money.
,When someone is unable to accept gifts or … even small tokens of ‘let me take you out to dinner’ … it’s a sign that someone feels unworthy and needs to work with it. Is,” said Chernyakovskaya.
Someone who exhibits this behavior may feel that they do not deserve to be given something that they have not earned. So pay attention if you’re having a hard time saying yes to that cup of coffee with a coworker.
“When someone thinks they have to earn everything, that’s another assumption about money” that is unhealthy, she said.
Cherniakovskaia said that when someone feels this way, they may in turn also believe that they have to earn everything around them, including love, and that’s not a healthy way to live.
And if you chronically overspend.
It may seem like a given, but if you’re the kind of person who consistently spends more than you have, you’re exhibiting money red flags.
According to Evans, if you fall into this category, you may feel like you “grinding continuously [and] Like there’s never enough money for whatever you’re building.
While spending money is a necessary part of life, the deeper question (and where the real work should be) is why you feel the need to spend more or why you feel the need to buy something to have it. .
For example, the Stanley reusable water bottle is something that many people feel need to do, but Evans posed the question: What exactly are you expecting this $40 water bottle to do? Is it going to make you work five days a week? Probably not. Are you a constantly hydrated person? No, if that isn’t already part of your routine.
“What is happening to you that you feel like this bottle of water is going to change everything about you now?” he said. “How do you feel about yourself? And, really, it’s about self-esteem—how you view yourself, how you value yourself.
“I think we have a chronic self-esteem problem bubbling under the surface that we’re not talking about and it just makes people feel really awful,” she said.
Coming to this realization about yourself is difficult, Evans said, but it becomes easier once you figure out what you really expect from your new purchase. That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re missing out on in your life and can work on achieving your goals without making another purchase filled with promises.
Bottom line: Know that money is emotional.
Both Evans and Chernyakovskaya stressed that money is emotional.
“MOne is about survival and it is in our emotional brain. Once we’re motivated or activated by something that’s threatening us, we go into survival mode,” Chernyakovskaya said. “So having a strong reaction to something having to do with money Totally normal.” In other words, be prepared for some tough conversations and hard feelings.
Evans explained that money is the way we take care of ourselves and our families, which makes it extremely emotional.
Evans said that if you’re having trouble accepting your unhealthy relationship with money, that’s okay. You may also experience other, more physical signs of this, such as chronic stress, moodiness, and all-consuming thoughts surrounding finances. Know that you can reach out to a therapist for support and that it is possible to mend your feelings about it.
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