Dealing with the fear and shame of a financial mess

There is a saying that states: “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” And people with mounting debts  — no matter how they got there — tend to keep a lot of secrets. They feel so much self-judgment, shame and embarrassment about having serious money problems that they stay isolated and avoid reaching out to get the help they so desperately need.

It takes guts to admit that some things are not working and risk feeling the heaviness of your own self-judgment, discouragement and shame.

As Maya Angelou said, “You did then what you knew how to do and when you knew better you did better.”

If you’ve been in a financial fog for a long time, the thought of taking a clear, honest look at your financial situation and spending patterns might feel very frightening. But until you face the truth and look at your situation in the bright light of day, your situation only gets worse.

Feeling guilty about your debt and spending is a sign that you know that your behavior needs to stop. A little shame about your debt is the one way to make sure that you are not living beyond your means.

The trick is not to let your guilt turn into shame. The problem with shame is that it doesn't spur you to action. All it does is shut you down. It also blocks you from coming clean about your financial mess and working on a plan to get your finances back on track.

Even if your financial life is a mess, even if you’ve blown it a dozen times or more, you won’t improve things by flogging yourself with shame and criticism. To heal, to recover, you must be kind to yourself.

If you’ve made poor decisions in the past it doesn't mean that you are a bad person.  This is why, as you move forward and take the next steps in healing your relationship with money, you need to do so with compassion, without any judgment or blame.

Rather than wasting time agonising over the past, put your focus on taking action and begin reducing the debt. Your actions will strengthen your heart and spirit to continue taking positive, proactive steps forward.

There will be stumbling blocks, but everyone encounters setbacks and roadblocks. Just stay the course and you’ll be glad you did!