Taking on a Taboo Topic

“The more interest you take in your finances, the more they improve.  As if by magic.”

Mark Butler (a.k.a The Budget Nerd)


My usual M.O. here at Thriving Thursdays is to address the internal stuff that gets in the way of your joy and your ability to do great work in the world—with a few practical strategies thrown in, mostly focused on practices of self-care and self-compassion. 


In this post, I’m expanding my definition of self-care just a bit wider to include caring for your finances—and caring for yourself through your finances—because I’ve found that a crucial aspect of my personal ability to thrive has circled around how I approach money – earning, spending, saving and (of course) addressing internal barriers and blind spots related to all of it. 


Because many of my clients and readers are committed to social justice, many are deeply religious or spiritual, and many are also moms, developing self-care practices related to money can be an especially difficult task.


Here’s what I’ve seen in my own life and that of my clients and colleagues.


We tend not to make a lot of money because:


  • We have chosen meaningful work over financial gain AND


  • Our society has deemed the work we do (“women’s work” in many cases) to be not worth paying much for so salaries in our field are low (anyone out their work in the field of early childhood education?  Do I hear an AMEN?)  AND


  • because we, and many in our religion, culture or spiritual community, believe that good people who care about others (and/or God) cannot also care about being well paid (i.e. people who want to make money are shallow and probably also selfish and mean, so having the goal of making a good living financially means that we aren’t REALLY good people. In fact, we may be headed right towards evil.)


We tend not to spend a lot of money on ourselves because:


  • We genuinely enjoy spending money on others AND ALSO


  • We think selfishness must be avoided at all times.  For some reason, this is the ultimate “sin” in our psyche/belief system AND


  • because we often feel guilty about spending money on ourselves (because our students have so much less than we do, or because good moms always sacrifice for their kids, or because we think to be good is to always be frugal, for example) and since we feel guilt and doubt when we spend money on ourselves, it’s really not that enjoyable, so why do it?


Does any of this sound like you? 


If it does, I hope you’ll do two things:


1)     Stick around the Thriving Thursdays community.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing with you more of my own story, how my money world has shifted both inside and out in ways that have led, not just to higher income, but also to much greater clarity, peace and joy about the financial decisions I make, and much greater compassion for myself regarding my mistakes.  I’ll also point you in the direction of a variety of resources that have helped me along the way.


2)    Set aside some time this week to journal about money.   Do this stream of consciousness.  Set a timer for 5, 10, 20, 30 mins (you decide what feels right) and don’t allow your pen to stop moving until the timer rings – even if you are writing the same word or phrase over and over for a while.  (And yes, it's better if you use a pen and paper rather than a computer.) This is a well-tested strategy for getting at some of the unconscious beliefs that might be driving your behavior even though you’re not aware of it.  If you want you could use one or more of the following prompts:


a.     People with money are…

b.     I will never have a lot of money because…

c.     I don’t want to focus on money/make a lot of money because…


Everyone’s journey with money is unique, of course.  And you aren’t likely to come to the same conclusions or end up with the same beliefs and practices I have now, but wouldn’t clarity, peace and joy about your finances be great? 


You can get there if you’re willing to start focusing on this taboo topic.  It’s not an easy or quick process for most of us.  But I have to tell you, it feels pretty great when you start making progress.


I'm looking forward to hearing about what comes up for you.  Please email thoughts and questions or put them in the comments!  That way I can work on finding the answers and resources that will best support you on your journey.


Here’s to Thriving!