self worth

We weren’t born with a price tag, so why add one now? Of course money is important – rent and gas expenses are very real things – but how much we make or spend should exist separately from our sense of self. Katie Horwitch of Women Against Negative Talk wants to untether the topic of money from how we calculate our self worth. Here’s Katie on the emotional reality of money issues, and five ways we can re-frame our relationship with our financial status…

Weight. Age. Sex. Money. Four of the most shame-filled issues in our culture. And four things we’re never supposed to talk about.

Just like with weight, age and sex, money is one of those “taboo” topics that threatens our self image and challenges some of our most important relationships. We’re not supposed to reveal how much money we make, and if we do, we’re supposed to feel bad about whatever number that is. We’re supposed to complain that we don’t have enough, even if we’ve got exactly as much as we need and have one less negative thing to bond with others over. We’re supposed to discuss finances with our partners, but when we do, we dance around the subject like it’s the key to Pandora’s box.

We live in a “more is more” world where we allow expenses to rule our lives, making decisions out of lack, and forming opinions out of resentment.

When we’re talking about money, we’re never just talking about money. The numbers game we play with our bank accounts just reinforces the numbers game we play in every other aspect of our lives: Whether it’s money in the bank, zeroes on the salary, followers on Instagram, weight on the scale or steps on the FitBit, the idea of a “good number” is purely subjective – yet we silently compare ourselves to others we think have it way better off. We never have enough; we never are enough.

As we often link our financial worth directly with our self worth, a dwindling bank account serves as an instant signal that we’re “unworthy” of taking care of ourselves. And when we’re feeling strapped for cash, our self-care usually ends up paying the price.

Money issues make us do things we’d never usually do. We lash out at others, we overeat and we stop taking good care of ourselves. Our relationships become strained because everything is based on how much we can or cannot spend; our eating habits become less-than-second priority because “healthy food is expensive;” and forget about motivating ourselves to exercise, meditate, get enough sleep, laugh, and basically do all the things that allow us to enjoy life – whether we’re spending money or not. Money isn’t just dollar bills and bank accounts, money is an extension of who we are. And unfortunately, we’re taught to view it as either good or bad.

No matter what your bank statement reads.

REDEFINE MONEY SPENT OR SAVED AS ENERGY. I’d heard this tip before, but Kathleen Shannon of Being Boss was the person who really got this idea of money as energy to sink into my psyche (thanks, Kathleen!). In the past, I’d been told to de-villify money by thinking of it as a positive – no matter what. The problem was, I was still allowing it to have power over me.

Kathleen describes money as neutral, like electricity. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing. It’s a thing we need for some things and a thing we don’t need for others. For me, this takes a lot of the power and therefore shame out of money. I use the word “money” like I’d use the word energy: Do I have enough energy for this? Do I want to spend my energy here, or there? How can I save up my energy? It’s a little hippie-dippie sounding but it seriously works.

REIMAGINE MONEY MADE AS A BARTERING TOOL. Back in the day, people traded sheep for wheat and textiles for bricks and all kinds of fun things. Unless you’re playing Settlers of Catan, there’s a good chance this isn’t the way things are in your neighborhood. Or are they?

Money is, simply put, a way to exchange for time, talent, services and goods. We forget this so often, and because of that, become afraid to ask for what we’re worth in the very literal sense. You’re bartering your time, your talents, your services and/or your goods. How much will it take you to not only do what you’re doing, not only not take another job instead of this one, but to create forward motion in your life? If you haven’t yet for whatever reason read Jennifer Lawrence’s essay on the wage gap and asking for what you’re worth, click here for a girl-powered reminder you’ll want to bookmark for later. Point being: It’s not about cutting someone else a deal and pleasing others; it’s about giving yourself some credit and declaring your worth.

RESPOND TO SETBACKS LIKE A SOLDIER. When soldiers hit a setback, do they start to freak out? No way. Flipping their lid could cost them their lives. Instead, they’ve got systems in place and work as a team to plow forward (hence the phrase “to soldier on”). The same applies to how you handle your finances. Owe money this tax season? Talk to your CPA, or the customer service team on whatever website you used, about making installment payments each month. Car needs to be repaired but you’re unable to afford a rental car for weeks on end? Look into public transit, rideshares (like UberPool) or call on your family and friends to lend a hand (and a ride). Struggling to make a payment? Sign up for a site like Fiverr where you can pick up extra work on the fly – or join a Facebook group specifically aimed at people who might need your services (there are some great ones for virtual assistants in particular).

We sometimes get so paralyzed by financial shame that we fail to reach out for help or simply take action at all. But that’s our ego talking. Soldier on, and know that when you meet the universe halfway, it’s way more likely to make sure the job gets done and all ends well. However, it’s up to you to make the first move.

REMEMBER THAT THE NOW ISN’T THE FOREVER – AND THERE’S ALWAYS MORE OUT THERE SOMEWHERE. I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly easy to give in to a scarcity mindset when I’m coming up short time and again. And on the flipside, I’ve had to do a lot of work to not get too comfy when I’m in a more cushy-for-me season. In either scenario – comfy-cozy or strapped for cash – I always try to remember that finances ebb and flow. No one season defines me and no one season is forever. Reminding myself of this truth over and over again keeps me grounded, makes me spend smartly and helps to separate my self-worth from my bank account’s worth.

REFRESH YOUR MONEY MINDSET BY MAKING SOMEONE’S DAY. It might sound weird to say spend, but buying your fave cup of coffee for yourself after a tough workout or giving a dollar to a person on the street sends signals to your brain (and the universe, p.s.) that you are abundant and worthy. Take the time to drop a lucky penny on the ground for someone to pick up later. Put another quarter in someone else’s meter when it looks like it’s down to the last few minutes (because parking tickets suck no matter how abundant you are). I’m not telling you to overdraft your account and go into the red, but whenever you remember to and it feels good to do so, find small but significant ways to reaffirm your worth.

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