Can you change how you feel about money?

Here’s the quick answer: yes!

That’s the easy part. The challenge lies in the next question: How do I change how I feel about money?

There are plenty of books, blogs, podcasts and short courses on how to change how to manage your money better and change how you budget, spend, save and invest. But many people, despite all these resources, still feel stuck and unable to change how they feel about money.

In “Mind over Mood” (Greenberger & Pedesky), they say that the key to changing how we feel about something lies in finding the connection between our thoughts and how they influence our moods and behaviours.

“Most people who are anxious, depressed, or angry can tell you that “just thinking positive thoughts” is not that easy [ … ] Looking at a situation from all sides and considering a wide range of information – positive, negative, and neutral – can lead to more helpful ways of understanding things and new solutions to difficulties you face.”

When it comes to our money-mood swings, attaching thoughts to our moods is a valuable exercise. Identifying what we think about money (influenced by our parents, peers and personal experiences) is the first positive step to changing how we feel about money.

In his book “Overcoming Depression and Low Mood”, Chris Williams suggests that the next step should be setting yourself small, achievable steps to maintain the momentum of change.

“You can’t expect to be able to swim immediately. You may need to start at the shallow end and practice at first. Pace what you do and don’t jump straight away into the deep end.”

These small steps could start with cash flow management, or perhaps you need to start talking to your family and loved ones about what you’re thinking and feeling about your financial situation. Connecting your thoughts and emotions is helpful, but connecting with people you love lets you feel protected, safe, physically comforted and soothed, and connected to others. 

When we feel isolated or alone, these emotions can cloud and clutter how we feel about our money, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and anxious. We then attach these feelings to how we feel about our money and how we think about our financial situation. This leads us to make unhealthy financial decisions and, in turn, keeps us stuck in our feelings about our money.

If you’ve been struggling with anxiety or depression around your finances, you’re not alone. Changing our thoughts and creating new habits are powerful in improving how we feel. Talk with people you trust and ask for help.

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