How do we know when we are sick?
We get a tickle in our nose, we get a nauseous feeling, we get a headache. Our body experiences pain or discomfort. We feel that pain and we do one of two things - we either treat the symptom (take some pain medication), or we treat the symptom and the underlying disease. We know, from experience, that a symptom rarely is a finite, disconnected thing. It’s usually the tip of the iceberg that we can see or feel, signaling a bigger issue underneath. Sometimes that’s a routine issue like a cold or flu, but sometimes it’s something bigger.
Money sickness is a real thing, too. Here are some of its symptoms - recognize any?
- Cycles of debt, repayment, and new debt
- Debt you can’t get rid of
- Anxiety, shame, blame, or guilt when you think about your money
- Money obsession
- Confusion and overwhelm about your money
- Feeling like money is a language you never learned
- Not knowing where to start dealing with your money
- Inability to change careers because of fear around money stability
Do any of these sound familiar? I bet you’ve been trying to deal with these by treating the symptoms. You’ve tried budgeting, you’ve tried switching your credit cards to one with lower interest, you’ve tried calling your utility company and asking for a lower rate. All of those things are helpful - but they’re like taking an Advil for a headache. Gets rid of your headache, but not the reason for your headache. What happens next time you get a headache? And more importantly, why do they keep coming back?
You need to stop treating your money problems like they’re the disease and start realizing that they’re just the outward symptoms of what’s really going on. It’s time to dig deep into the messy stuff - your feelings, your past experiences which have created neural pathways for your behavior to take, your family history around money, your real needs and real wants, and your complicated feelings about your place in the world. Your money is an expression of your values, the same way your body is an expression of your health. If you’re not feeling healthy with your money, something’s out of whack. Recognizing that your debt or lack of savings isn’t the disease itself is the first step to dealing with what really is.