Almost every therapy client I’ve ever worked with has had concerns about money. I think that’s natural. What most don’t know is that those very money concerns can be an opportunity for healing.
When a client is ready to confront their financial anxiety, I ask them to keep track of their income and expenses. While this might be an obvious thing, most people prefer to turn a blind eye - simply keeping track of the overall total in their account until tax season rolls around. Most avoid tracking their money because it gives them anxiety.
This is precisely why I want them to look at it. They deserve to experience a positive relationship with their money - and their anxiety is a clue how to get there.
I first ask clients why they avoid tracking their money. Their responses often point to money beliefs, such as:
There’s never enough
Money is the root of evil
I deserve to spend my money on what I want
Dismantling these harmful beliefs involves digging into the past (where did this belief originate so we can understand it and release it) and implementing strategies.
One of the first strategies is to begin tracking their money (my favorite app is YNAB, but excel spreadsheets, Quickbooks, or whatever app of choice will do). I like to use the word “tracking” because so many people have negative associations with budgeting.
Tracking also helps us become aware of patterns, such as one client who discovered she would splurge on Amazon whenever she got nervous. Another noticed she didn’t spend money on herself. Another noted that she wasn’t saving for retirement.
We can then examine what feelings and thoughts come up as they note these patterns, such as fear, shame, or relief. We can explore what underlying needs fuel these needs. It is great material for therapy.
We can also examine behaviors that are difficult to change and see what underlying beliefs fuel them.
The result of digging into money? A deeper understanding of the self and the beliefs that fuel one’s behavior. As clients examine themselves at these levels and make changes in their lives, they not only experience a better relationship with money, but also a better relationship with themselves. They have a greater sense of peace with money AND themselves.
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