Money Mocha #2: How to Work with Tough Money Emotions.

written by Bari Tessler October 18, 2018
Will those money emotions ever go away?

A few weeks ago, this question popped up in the private Facebook group for my year-long Art of Money program:

Bari, help! As soon as I start working on the practical, nitty-gritty stuff around money, my brain shuts down. I’ve been trying to catch up on my taxes, but as soon as I begin, I panic. My brain goes blank. It’s like I’m a computer in meltdown mode: blue screen of death, nobody’s home. It’s just too difficult to look at.

I feel motivated on one hand — but paralyzed on the other. How do I keep going with money stuff when my brain just STOPS?

So relatable, right?

Will those tough money emotions ever go away? And how can you deal with them, when they DO come up?

Listen to this brand-new teaching about emotions + money and learn:

  • How to decode your fight-flight-freeze fear responses around money
  • 7 things deep money work actually can help you do, with your emotions (yes, there’s hope!)
  • The vulnerability my husband had about his own money emotions (so good)
  • My favorite, trusty tool to help you respond to money emotions when they inevitably arise.



A few weeks ago, this question popped up in the private Facebook group for my year-long Art of Money program:

Bari, help! As soon as I start working on the practical, nitty-gritty stuff around money, my brain shuts down. I’ve been trying to catch up on my taxes, but as soon as I begin, I panic. My brain goes blank. It’s like I’m a computer in meltdown mode: blue screen of death, nobody’s home. It’s just too difficult to look at.

I feel motivated on one hand — but paralyzed on the other. How do I keep going with money stuff when my brain just STOPS?

So relatable, right?

PSA: working on your money stuff can trigger your fight-flight-freeze fear response.

Have you ever procrastinated paying a certain bill for weeks or even months? This might be a “flight” fear response.

Or tried to talk to your sweetie about financing your summer vacation only to find yourself picking a fight? Were you actually afraid, beneath that “fight” fear response?

Or maybe, like this dear student, your fear response is more “freeze” — maybe you simply shut down when you try to determine your new pricing or look at retirement plans.

Money is so close to the bone.

For better or for worse, money is connected to our survival instincts and identity and self-worth and tons of deep, personal stuff. It’s no wonder it triggers such big, emotional and instinctive reactions!

That’s why, whether it’s fight, flight, or freeze, FEAR can come up so often, in big and small money moments.

But other emotions come up, around money, too. In spades. Shame, guilt, joy, anxiety, fear, anger, pride, grief, shutdown, elation, and on and on …

Money work isn’t about getting rid of our emotions … but learning to respond to them.

I know, I know. A lot of the emotions we feel about money are really uncomfortable. And you might just want to make them STOP.

Maybe you flat-out avoid the tricky money conversation, because you don’t want to feel the anxiety. Or maybe you start using some of my trusty mindfulness tools, hoping they’ll make your emotions JUST GO AWAY, ALREADY.

I hate to disappoint you … but those emotions around money aren’t necessarily going to vanish. But here’s what working on your money relationship can help you with, instead:

Make your emotions around money more manageable (and less overwhelming)
Stay present with your feelings when they come up
Recognize and name your feelings sooner
Calm yourself down in the moment
Gently move your emotions to the side, so you can think more clearly
Break down big issues into manageable bits
Stay curious and open to new possibilities.

Your emotions aren’t going to go away. But you can learn to work with them, catch them quicker, name them, sit with them, and befriend them.

Emotions still arise for me when I’m faced with something big or new, around money.

They do for all of my Art of Money students, too — after all, we always have new growth edges with money.

But here’s how we know we’re getting somewhere, with money work:

When an emotion arises, you have trusty tools to soothe yourself, self-regulate, and keep going.

You can say hello and give it some space. Move it gently to the side. Offer it tea and chocolate. Shift into witness mode. Calm your nervous system, so fight-flight-freeze isn’t overriding your whole being. Start a dialogue with yourself and ask new, different questions.

And yes, this is a practice. You might not achieve perfect money zen on the first try!

It can take some time and patience to learn to work with your emotions, around money. It can get uncomfortable and even scary, at times. That’s why working with a somatic therapist, financial therapist, or other trusted guide can be so helpful, so you have more and more tools to stay in your body, listen to it, and work with those strong, challenging emotions.

This reminds me of what my dear husband, Forest, said once about some of his challenging money emotions and issues:

“When I first started working on my “money stuff,” I thought that once we made enough money, my core money issues would just go away. I’d never have to feel this fear, this dark feeling, again. {…}The marker of growth isn’t necessarily that your issues disappear. It’s that you’re able to move through them when they arise, and you can prevent your core money issues from making major money decisions for you.”

With money, emotions aren’t your enemy, dear friend.

Even the challenging ones have important messages and gifts to offer you.

Our goal, then, isn’t to make those emotions vanish. Even if we could (which we can’t), we’d miss out on so much beautiful information and wisdom.

My hope for you is that you learn the tools and get the support you need to stay with your emotions, around money.

Listen to everything your body is working so hard to tell you.
Notice. Be curious. Stay open.
Glean the wisdom.

Here’s my favorite, trusty tool for working with emotions around money (in 60 seconds flat).

The Body Check-In is a simple but mighty practice that will help you stay grounded in your body when emotions get overwhelming — or even when you’re not quite sure how you feel.

It will return you to yourself … and help you stay grounded and present to whatever’s arising, in your money world.

The Body Check In

Bari Tessler
Hi, dear friends. This is Bari Tessler Linden, financial therapist and creator of The Art of Money. I’ve been so excited to share with you a little taste of my favorite tool in life and in money healing called The Body Check In. The Body Check In is so simple and yet it’s so helpful, supportive and profound if you give yourself the gift of using it and inserting it on a daily basis in all these different little and big money interactions that happen all the time when we’re about to have those money conversations with our honey, with our parents, with our children, with our business partner, with our clients. Insert Body Check In in all these little daily money interactions and see what happens. You will be so supported by this.

What is a little Body Check In? What is it? Here’s a taste.

Give yourself a moment to pause, get quiet, you can close your eyes if that feels right or keep them open. Just give yourself a moment here to get curious and begin to notice and listen to anything that’s happening inside your body, inside your internal landscape. What’s going on in here? What’s going on in there?

At first, you can let yourself notice on a physical level. Are you seated? Are you upright? Is your back against a chair? Is your tush against a cushion? Are your feet touching the ground? Just notice. Be curious.

Next, let yourself notice any sensations in your body of movement, of stillness, of holding, of looseness, of tightness. Are your shoulders creeping up a bit high? Is your chest tight? Is it open? Do you feel fluttering in your belly? Also, let yourself notice any feelings, any emotions that are present right now. I’ve heard them all. I’ve seen them all. They’re all welcome here. In life, when we’re about to have a conversation about money, with our honey, before, during, after – what’s present? What are you noticing in this moment? Is it strong anger? Is it anxiety? Nervousness? Is it sleepiness? Are you wanting to go take a nap? Or you’re starting to check out and kind of leave your body. What’s the feeling? What’s the emotion that’s present with you right now? Let it be here. Whatever it is.

Also, let yourself notice what’s going on with your breath. Is your breath full and deep? Down into the bottom of your belly, through your heart and everywhere? Is your breath up in your throat and it’s more shallow? Just be curious. What’s going on with your breath right now? How deep? How shallow? How full? Where is it in your body? In your throat, in your chest, in your belly? Just notice. Be curious. Be open. Be interested.

Lastly, give yourself a moment to just notice any thoughts that are going across your screen right now. You may just want to watch them as they pass by. What words, what sentences are coming up? As you’re doing this Body Check In right now, knowing that you’re about to have that money conversation or you’re about to walk into the mall or you’re about to look online and look at your balances. On a physical level, what are you noticing? On a sensation level, what are you noticing? On an emotional/feeling level, what’s present? With your breath, what’s going on with your breath at this moment? What are those thoughts that are going across your screen? Are there any to catch or do you want to just watch them all pass on by?

That’s a little taste of a Body Check In. It’s just giving yourself a moment to be curious, to notice, to listen, to give yourself this gift. You can leave it as this or you can end by saying, “Is there any little adjustment or tweaking that I could do right now to support me as I go into that money conversation, as I head into the mall, as I go to look at my online balances? Would it be helpful to take a fuller breath and bring it down into my belly? Would it be helpful to loosen my jaw and wiggle it around? Would it be helpful to lower my shoulders and do a little shimmy? What would be helpful in this moment on a body level to support you? What little adjustment, what little tweak can you give to yourself?

This is my favorite simple, yet so profound tool that I invite you all to insert in all of these daily little and big money interactions. Just let yourself give yourself the gift of pausing and listening and noticing what’s going on in your body; giving yourself the gift of learning what emotion, what words, what stories, what memories are popping up. The Body Check In is such a wonderful tool to help us simply get present and it’s such a wonderful tool to bring into all of these potentially sensitive and challenging money interactions and it’s such a wonderful tool to help us learn about our money story and our money patterns and our money nuances more to lead us straight into more understanding, forgiveness and money healing.

That’s a little taste of the Body Check In, everyone. I invite you to insert it in all of the daily money interactions that you have and please let me know how it’s going and how it’s supporting you and how it’s serving you.

Practiced regularly, the Body Check-In can help you make truly profound transformation. It is just that powerful.

Here’s to making friends with your emotions, around money, my friend. One moment at a time.

Here’s to making friends with your emotions, around money, my friend. One moment at a time.

Want some loving support on your money journey? Now’s the time …

Art of Money 2019

We just opened the doors for The Art of Money 2019!

Reading about money emotions is one thing. (And a great start!)

But practicing working with those emotions, in an ongoing way, with expert guidance and a supportive community? This is how real transformation happens.

Want some?

We just opened the doors for my year-long program, The Art of Money … for a quickie earlybird window.

This is my absolute favorite teaching model, ever, because it combines the best of all worlds: my entire Art of Money methodology, group coaching with me, amazing Guest Teachers, fabulous TA’s, and a supportive, global community to witness and cheer you on.

I created The Art of Money to make deep, sustainable money transformation accessible to as many people as possible. Now entering our 7th year (!!), it just keeps getting better.

We officially begin in January 2019, but if you sign up now, you can start your money healing journey now with these special earlybird prezzies:

  • Kickstarter call with Bari on Sunday, October 28th (5pm MT). This live, 2-hour call will include teachings and laser coaching so you can start your transformation now, finding more peace and clarity around money.
  • The Holiday Money Care Package. Have you ever noticed how the holidays seem to crank up the volume on your “money stuff”? Get some beautiful support for your money relationship, so you can enjoy more and stress less. (With virtual ribbons and hugs!)
  • Money Mapping digital guides. Hate “budgeting” but know you need a plan? These beautiful workbooks walk you through my 3-Tier Money Mapping method (which we get to, at the end of the Art of Money, but some people are so ready for). Plus, you’ll get my full video interview with my personal bookkeeper extraordinaire, Jess Salzman, as we walk you through how to pick the best financial tracking software for you. (Only if you’re ready, of course!)
  • My whole doggone digital library. Yep! No need to wait ’til we begin in January: you’ll get a key to the full Art of Money archive as soon as you register, so you can start exploring: dozens of Guest Teacher interviews (audio + video), articles, book recommendations, financial pro referrals, and so much more.

Remember: these special gifts won’t be available past October 28.

But if you sign up now, we’ll deliver them straight to your inbox, so you can begin finding more peace, confidence, and empowerment in your money relationship, today.

Wanna spend a year with me? Find out if The Art of Money 2019 (with earlybird goodies!) is right for you … right this way.

P.S. What’s a Money Mocha? It’s a mini-jolt of financial clarity. A drop of money wisdom. A morsel of peace and joy you can access in just a moment … and savor as long as you like.

And it’s a sneak peek of my year-long money school: The Art of Money, now open for registration (for a very short time).

The Art of Money 2019 officially kicks off in January. But if you sign up now during our earlybird shindig, you’ll get a boatload of e-prezzies from me, so you can start shifting your money relationship, right now.

Learn about the Art of Money 2019 (+ all the earlybird goodies) right here.

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