Are you constantly worried about your bank account? Do you feel guilty when you buy something that is non-essential? Do you feel you are constantly playing catch-up with your money?
Even people who have plenty of money can find themselves worrying about it. Even those who aren’t living paycheck to paycheck, who don’t have crushing debt, who have built a comfortable amount of savings — even people in a relatively good position with money can still worry. And it’s a lot more common than you might think.
When you’re going through a hard time, you wish for less struggle. More ease. A relationship with money that sustains, instead of needing to work constantly to sustain it. But here’s the problem…things get better, and you’re STILL worried about money. Which means your relationship with money isn’t totally based on external circumstance; it starts with what you think and feel inside.
How to stop worrying
A while ago, I experienced a setback and I found myself thinking, “Why do I have to remain CONSTANTLY vigilant to make sure my business is on track and that things don’t fall apart?” Fortunately, I could see that I was engaging in extreme, all-or-nothing thinking. Just because I felt a certain way at the moment didn’t mean I would ALWAYS feel this way. I was simply having a moment. Before I could do anything else, I had to stop myself and get grounded. We typically have enough basic awareness to TRY and assess what is REALLY happening, but often we forget to get our brains off the anxiety track and just STOP. For me, I have to walk away from all electronic devices and get some fresh air.
Next, I asked myself, “What attachment did you have to this setback?” For me, success means that I am an intelligent, effective business person… But I didn’t have a positive characterization for myself when things don’t go totally according to vision, so I immediately jumped to TOTAL FAILURE, even though that’s probably a bit extreme. When I calmed down, I realized that I am allowed, and indeed required, to make mistakes in order to continually improve.
Then I asked myself, “What is the personal growth opportunity?” An ongoing “growth opportunity” for me is preventing isolation. I was raised in a family where you worked alone and did everything yourself. My default is “alone,” so my personal growth opportunity is ALWAYS collaboration and expansion. I realized that this setback probably wouldn’t have happened if I had not tried to do it all alone and had asked for more support.
Finally, I asked myself, “What did you learn from this setback?” I learned that I was in “over-functioning, control freaky mode” trying to accomplish a set of business tasks, and that is NOT the kind of energy I want to bring to my business! And creating any tactics when I was in that headspace would not be effective.
Once I was able to reframe the experience, I felt a lot better about it, and I was able to start planning my next experiment to incorporate all of the elements that made this last attempt fail—collaboration, expansion, support, and the spirit of possibility—instead of attachment.
Worrying over money problems
How can this be applied to worrying about money problems? I see the same dynamics happen when someone is having money problems:
- Overwhelm – People are always trying to make money decisions when they ALREADY have 10 different things happening at once! Stop the merry-go-round and get off for a few minutes.
- Attachment – People starting thinking, “If I can’t pay this bill now, the world falls apart.” It actually doesn’t. That is just your projection of what happens if things don’t happen perfectly – which really isn’t perfect, it’s only what you expected. Nothing is perfect. Instead, ask yourself, “Is that REALLY true? How can I know that it’s true?” ala Byron Katie.
- Personal Growth – You are where you are because of WHO you are. Whenever you feel worry or struggle, there is always an opportunity to show up in a different, and ultimately better, way. How does your response to this situation seem similar to other times you have felt the same way?
- Learning – The real-world learning is what you can apply from your personal growth lesson. For some, it might be “never carry credit cards in my wallet,” or “figure out ways to show up in a better way for my family and our money.” You get to decide. The key, though, is to be aware enough that you can identify that you are in the midst of a (non-productive) worry mindset. Only when you do that can you change that mindset, and therefore, your relationship to money.
If you’re in the midst of a money worry moment, consider these steps:
- STOP everything. You can’t get clarity or feel better until you “reset” yourself back to the present moment. Go outside. Walk your dog. Dance.
- Reinforce: NOTHING IS WRONG. This current struggle is powerful information, about yourself and how you deal with issues. Lean into it. Be willing to take the lesson. But remember that the lesson does not make you a bad person or doomed to failure.
- Connect with a loved one. I recently re-read Jenny Lawson’s book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened… First, I laughed so hard I cried, but secondly, it reinforced for me the power of having people in your life who accept you. You don’t have to share all of your worries, but just connect with people and remember that whatever you’re going through, you’re still a part of something bigger.
If you’re ready to end the money worry dynamic, I highly suggest you download and work through some of my money workbooks. They will help you get clear on what your values are around money — and that will help you work through any struggles you may be experiencing.