The I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money) support group has been focusing on the renowned 12-step program used for other dysfunctions. This post covers step 5 (admit wrongs) and step 8 (make amends) because I think the two go together. I will also blog about steps 6 (ask your Higher Power to remove your defects of character) and 7 (ask your Higher Power to remove your shortcomings) in a separate post.
From www.turningpointrc.com “When you try to hide the wrongs you’ve done, you’re at great risk for making the same mistakes. In fact, without completing this step with commitment, it is very likely you will turn back to your addiction.”
Financially speaking, this could be the addiction to any or all of the following financial dysfunctions:
- Generous to the point of denying one’s own needs
- Shopping without need, want or intention
- Avoidance of financial matters
- Being Stingy
- Allowing social influence to cloud your judgment
- One participant shared that her perfectionism (i.e. I have to budget and track everything or nothing, I have to find the perfect budget app, I have to set perfect, achievable goals etc.) lead to her procrastination.
Also from http://www.turningpointrc.com, “The reason the fifth step is so powerful is that we are being frank and honest with others about the things we’ve done wrong over the years. Many times, addictions are formed to cover those wrongs up so that we don’t have to face them head-on. By trying to keep these things covered…It leads to further deception and self-destructive behavior.”
To complete this step it’s important to identify the exact nature of our wrongs: No generalities, be as specific as possible. I.e.
- “I knew I didn’t have the money to pay the bills anyways so I didn’t bother opening them.”
- “I know I already have a high balance on my credit cards that’s stressing me out but I wanted to see if I could get some good deals after Christmas.”
- “I just found out that my co-worker makes a lot more than I do and so I took some paper from the office to use at home. I knew it was wrong, in a way, but somehow it felt okay.”
“All …Twelve Steps ask us to go contrary to our natural desires…they all deflate our egos. When it comes to ego deflation, few steps are harder to take than Five. But scarcely any step is more necessary to longtime…peace of mind than this one.” ~ Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
Who might we have harmed (even unintentionally)
and how were they harmed by our financial missteps?
- Our children: By not having good boundaries or teaching them how to manage money.
- Friends, family, and/or organizations we have given money to who were not as grateful as we thought they should be. Our resentment harms them…and us, and may affect our generosity going forward.
- Ourselves by agonizing over our perceived inability to make the “right” decision, being unaware or on auto-pilot, by succumbing to greed/our egos, feeding our fears/perceived inadequacies instead of our abilities/skills/hopes etc.
A little compassion goes a long way. Let’s take a look at the possible reasons we made the financial mistakes:
- Money is a very private matter. Since few people talk about it, it’s difficult to learn how to manage it. As a result, most of us are left to navigate financial decisions with our emotions (I.e. Will this make me happy/comfortable? Will this make my loved one happy/comfortable?). Note: You are not wrong for wanting these outcomes!
- Since no one talks about money, we create all kinds of stories about what we think other people have/do/are in regards to money and then try to replicate a desired outcome based on those fictions.
- Money tends to be a symbol for the things we really want out of life: love, acceptance, appreciation, respect. This shows up in many areas of our lives such as when we buy gifts and celebrate the holidays and our purchases on clothing, homes, vehicles, vacations etc.
To avoid these tendencies from now on, it’s important to consider your motivations: WHAT outcome do you want? Will this particular financial decision most likely provide that outcome and what makes you believe that?
Making amends can be scary. We have to admit that we’re not perfect and that we were wrong. It might backfire. People may judge us.
And yet there’s peace in being humbled. That peace can lead you to a deeper understanding of your motivations & values and you will also be modeling behavior that is more loving; not something you often see in regards to money.
It may help you to practice/visualize/rehearse admitting your wrongs and making amends while also envisioning the peace and love you will experience as a result. Remember, these steps are for you; the other person may benefit as well but the focus is on your healing, learning and growth.
Peace & abundance to you,