Shame is a tricky beast.
It sneaks in. Unannounced and uninvited. Through cracked windows and doors you thought you’d shut.
It can slip in, just when you’re celebrating. That’s when your guard is down, after all.
I’ve seen it happen in our community. Just when you learn a new money skill, shame sneaks in and beats up on you because you didn’t know it before.
You get all set up with your new personal tracking software. After a few weeks, you start catching “money leaks”— that old gym membership you didn’t realize you’d forgotten to cancel, and some late fees you can avoid now that you’re keeping closer track of things.
In this moment, you have a choice. Will you celebrate your new awareness? Or shame yourself for not noticing before?
Or perhaps you finally hire an accountant, after years of fighting with your taxes yourself, with gritted teeth and pots of coffee. When she shows you all the deductions you’ve been missing (and how much money you’ll be saving), you have a choice. Will you celebrate yourself for getting this expert support? Or shame yourself for waiting so long?
This is the double-edged sword of learning, my friends. We can wield it wisely — and cut through confusion, opening a trail ahead of us. Or we can use it against ourselves.
That’s why I always, always, always lay the foundation of Money Healing before moving into Money Practices. We need to do this emotional, body-based work of forgiving ourselves and learning self-compassion first. Then, when we set up our bookkeeping systems or reach out for support — and encounter emotional choice points like this — we have the inner resources and emotional capacity to choose compassion.
As you get more savvy and aware about money systems, you might find yourself looking back and past decisions and behaviors and shaking your head.
Why did you let yourself get pressured into that pricier car, when you knew the monthly payment was uncomfortably high? Why didn’t you negotiate a higher starting salary? How could you have been so careless about spending and wracking up credit card debt, in college?
Please, I urge you: have compassion for your past decisions and behaviors. Even the “mistakes.”
After all: what’s the point in trying to update your financial life if you feel aggressive and critical toward yourself the whole time?
We’ve all made money “mistakes.” We’re all works in progress.
So get savvier. Make better decisions. Set up systems and get the support you need. Yes, yes, and yes.
And as you do this: return to self-compassion and forgiveness, over and over again. Let emotional intelligence light the way for practical change. Let self-love be the foundation for your money self-care practice.
Learning isn’t a reason to beat up on yourself for what you didn’t know before.
Celebrate your progress. Forgive your past. Move forward with awareness and love.
You’ve got this.