Money triggers us all. Here are some common ones. We get anxious when the dinner bill comes. Your roommate does not Venmo you the money they owe you. Your mom keeps telling you how much she has spent on you, making sure you appreciate all you have. Your friends on Instagram seem to be living a life you can not afford. Your spouse hides her shopping bags. Your husband dismisses you when you ask to see all your cash accounts and investments. Your sister is rich, rich, rich and complains about how poor she is. You panic at the checkout wondering if your credit card will go through. You believe women will love you if you're rich. You cry when you open your credit card bills. You pretend money is not a thing. You lie to people about what you have or do not have. You complain your career does not pay and yet you choose it. You refuse to face how anxious money makes you feel, so you ignore dealing with it and are plagued with ghost anxiety around not understanding your money. Need we say more?
Here are some simple ways to identify your personal money triggers and handle them in a healthy (versus destructive) way:
Acknowledge every time you feel any emotion around money, even writing down how you feel. Be brutally honest with yourself.
Do not judge the feeling, but be curious about why you feel the way you do.
Try to unpack what underlies the trigger. For example, you're afraid your new partner will not want to be with you when they know how much student debt you have. So you do not discuss it. Consider if you are feeling unworthy of love. Are you sabotaging yourself and using money as the excuse? Do you define yourself based on your bank account?
Write down on a piece of paper three columns: What is the Problem, What is the Feeling, What is the Solution. For example:
What is the Problem
What is the Feeling
What is the Solution
Too much debt
I feel less than, embarrassed, scared, irresponsible. I do not know what to do.
Discuss it with my partner, and share my feelings as well as my fear. Ask for help trying to make a plan on how to pay it off and save at the same time.
My roommate never pays me back
Anger, hurt, embarrassed, helpless
Own my part in not letting him know that I do not want to chase him around for money. See if he can pay part of it back today. See if we can split everything moving forward, so we do not owe each other money or have to keep track of any running debts.
When it comes to money triggers, they are just that. They set off an intense feeling that most likely is tied to other feelings. Rather than fight, run, or ignore the triggers, begin to break them down. This way, you won't feel like a victim of money but rather in control. When we feel confident about ourselves in relation to money, we make better decisions.