Our support group (“I HATE Budgeting but I like having money”) was delighted to have mental health counselor Elizabeth Galanti (www.elizabethgalanti.com) present this topic to us. She started the conversation by asking us all to take a moment to think about money. Most people admitted to feeling anxious.
She shared that 75% of people feel anxious about money and this is largely due to three causes:
- The “stories” we inherit from our parents about money (such as “We can’t afford that!” and “Money doesn’t grow on trees!”)
- The stories make up in our own heads about money (such as, “We’d be happier if only I earned more money,” “Rich people are greedy,” “I don’t deserve more money when others are struggling” etc.).
- Expectations we accept from others or place upon ourselves when it comes to money.
In addition, your generation can possess a unique money challenge – such as Baby Boomers concerned that they don’t have “enough” money to retire and Millennials being burdened by student loan debt. In fact, AARP just published a story that indicates that 50% of both of these groups feel financially insecure (http://buffalonews.com/2016/10/24/study-paints-bleak-financial-picture-among-seniors-gen-xers/).
Elizabeth explained that anxiety is a basic indicator that we’re in danger (physically or emotionally) and, therefore, it is a useful and important physiological response. “The big black bear” shows up in all of our lives at various times in various disguises.
The reality is, however, that there is usually no big black bear. (Check out my TEDx talk about this subject.)
The fear of loss (of money, stature, position) or failure is very great, even though it is not physically a threat.
She further pointed out that
“the anxiety isn’t the problem;
it’s our resistance to acknowledging what the anxiety is telling us
that is the problem.”
Parents often model the exact financial anxieties and fears they hope their children will never experience.
When feeling emotionally/mentally anxious, you can ask yourself:
- Where does this fear come from?
- How far back does this go?
- Does this fear belong to me or to someone else?
Thankfully Elizabeth gave us some strategies for dealing with this anxiety.
First of all, deep breaths are always a good idea; they send a message to the brain that you’re safe, that you’re okay. Then your rational (smart) brain can go to work figuring things out. Here is her 5 step process:
- Create a plan (Of course I’m in favor of this not only because it’s the work I do but because it works.) If you are worried that you’ll run out of money, for example, crunching the numbers or having a professional help you crunch them can direct you toward some options, solutions, and answers.
- Start small
- Focus on the positive (it gives you the necessary encouragement)
- Use anxiety as a temporary motivator to take action
- Let the anxiety go; what’s the worst that can happen? What’s the probability that the worst will happen?
There is no big black bear.
Unless, of course, there is.
Or a skunk.
In which case, your money is the last thing on your mind.