Heal Financial Trauma and Improve Your Relationship with Money

“Financial health and wellbeing is not a luxury just for the wealthy. It’s a basic need for ALL.”

~The Money Whisperer

Healing financial trauma for so long has been addressed by providing people with money management tools and expecting positive results. This is the equivalent of treating an infection with an aspirin. Wrong treatment. Financial Trauma is about addressing the feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and emotions tied to money. This goes far deeper than budgets, dollars in an account, or debt.

Healing begins by acknowledging the financial pain, sitting in the feelings, and to a certain extent grieving the pain of poverty. Everyone’s story may not be around the poverty trap. But, a story we all have and it deserves to be given a voice. Our financial narrative begins to morph and take new shape by the process of healing

How does Financial Trauma Manifest?

The financial world and the mental health world have united. Galen Buckwalter, the CEO of psyML and an expert on financial trauma, says FT is characterized as a dysfunctional reaction to chronic financial stress. The symptoms often present similarly to those who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from other events. Identifying the symptoms is the first step to restoration and healing.

financial trauma

  • Basic thought patterns regarding money are negative, and often involve rumination on failure.
  • The ability to concentrate is short-circuited, focus is often interrupted by nagging thoughts of financial doom.
  • The individual sees their general environment as an increasingly hostile place, believing that it’s only a matter of time before bad, or worse, things happen again.
  • The individual’s basic arousal system gets stuck in overdrive, unresolved nervous energy takes hold. Jitteriness, insomnia, nightmares, etc., become chronic.

  • Coping mechanisms, such as avoidance, or substance abuse, increases.
  • Fear regarding mail, or phone calls (every time the phone rings, it’s a bill collector, etc.)
  • Joy slowly reduces, meaning is seldom found.
  • Individuals begin to isolate themselves as relationships can be costly. This is especially true if FT comes from being controlled by someone else with money, or there is fear relating to someone’s personal life collapse causing that individual financially

Financial stressors play such a pivotal role and impact the well being of so many. Educators are struggling with student loan debt along with other financial responsibilities. New teachers often live with parents or roommates. Many are driving Uber, GrubHub, or have other part-time employment. All while expected to create and deliver lesson plans, connect with students, parents, and colleagues. It is so important to begin connecting the dots and affirming that financial self-care is vital.

Healing Financial Trauma is Possible

Establishing a foundation of truth and giving your story a voice begins the recovery process. The development of a healthy relationship with finances starts with acknowledging and implementing healthy strategies. Here’s how to begin recovering and building health (and wealth if that is your goal).

Work to reduce debt

Particularly high-interest debt. If the immediate payoff isn’t a viable option, work on debt reduction, such as a consolidation loan, or at minimum, a debt repayment plan. 

Plan for the future.

Put even a small amount of money away toward retirement, or your own savings account. When traumatized, we are in survival mode. We have trouble thinking beyond our immediate circumstances. Planning for the future helps us circumvent this feeling, reassuring us that we will make it through, and we will be prepared when we do.

Label your feelings.

When you become tense and anxious around finances, recognize what’s going on, and where it comes from. Imagine what a healthy response to the situation would be.

Talk to a friend.

Getting social support helps change stress reactivity. Being open about your fears and discussing them can also help remind you that most people go through financial hardship at some point in their lives. 

Talk to a professional.

If the stress and panic are taking a significant toll on your life, consult with a mental health professional, who can help you work through strategies to get past it, or other treatment plans.

Stop avoiding.

The point is not to be able to remove the triggers — like never checking your credit card balance, or savings account — rather, being able to work through the triggers. Fear thrives in the unknown. Get clear about what you need, and what’s happening in your financial life

Financial trauma is a term I recently encountered. I immediately began researching and was able to exhale because it explained my financial journey to this point. The years of beating myself up and dealing with sometimes paralyzing stress over finances made sense. This newfound information gives me permission to extend myself GRACE and hit the reset button.

Dare 2 B Well,

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