The Power of Naming Your Money Emotions

written by Bari Tessler August 17, 2022
The power of naming your money emotions

Dear Money Adventurer,

Learning to be present with the personal, emotional side of money can be challenging. Especially when you’ve spent your entire life learning to push your money emotions aside, bury them, or turn them into evidence of your mistakes and shortcomings. It can be scary to peek at the shame and pain we’ve swept under the rug for so long.

You aren’t alone. Money emotions are a normal part of being human. Even after spending almost half of my life doing this intimate, personal money work, and guiding thousands of folks down this gentle path, I still struggle with my own challenging emotions when facing something big or new in my money life.

But our money emotions are not the enemy. They’re messengers of our own internal wisdom, here to share important lessons and gifts around money. I know– a lot of the emotions that come up around money are incredibly uncomfortable. It can be hard to imagine that fear, anger, guilt, or anxiety could have something beautiful and valuable to offer.

When faced with the idea of sitting with those unpleasant emotions, you might want to shut down or run away just to make them stop.

But this work isn’t about getting rid of our money emotions. The truth is, we can’t make our money emotions disappear, no matter how hard we try. And if we could, we would miss out on priceless personal healing and awareness.

What we can do, is learn how to acknowledge our money emotions, to recognize the way they feel in our bodies, and sit with those feelings without trying to “fix” them or push them away. And we can start by learning to name the emotions that come up for us around money.

Before we get started, I want to invite you to steep yourself a soothing cup of tea or light a candle, whatever makes you feel safe and grounded. Then, grab your journal and your favorite pen, and get comfortable. Take a few deep breaths, turn inward, and spend some time sitting with the questions below.

A loving reminder before you begin: There is no “right” or “wrong” here. This work is so brave and so very personal. Please be gentle and oh so compassionate with yourself. Give yourself permission to honor the answers that are coming up for you in the moment.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break. Do a Body Check-In. Put your hand over your heart and feel it beating. Breathe. Come back when you’re ready. This, too, is honoring yourself and your journey.

So, when you are ready, here are some questions for you to help you learn more about your money emotions.

What is the main emotion that comes up around money?

What emotion – or combination of emotions – do you feel frequently?

Here is a list of some of the Core Emotions:

Anger. Grief. Anxiety. Guilt. Calmness. Joy. Curiosity. Overwhelm. Disappointment. Pride. Disgust. Sadness. Empowerment. Security. Excitement. Shame. Fear. Surprise. Gratefulness. Tenderness.

What money emotion did we miss?

Now, pause for a moment and think about your last three money interactions.

Whether you were shopping online for a new pair of boots, having a conversation about money and legacy with an aging parent, or in the middle of a car dealership about to take a test drive, what emotions popped up for you?

Take some time to sit with the money moments that are coming to mind and how each one made you feel.

Money Interaction #1:

What money emotions came up? Where do you feel them? How do they sit in your body?

Money Interaction #2:

What money emotions came up? Where do you feel them? How do they sit in your body?

Money Interaction #3:

What money emotions came up? Where do you feel them? How do they sit in your body?

Deep breath.

You should be incredibly proud of the work you have done here, even if you’ve only half-answered one question so far. Simply reading this and being present with the thoughts and emotions it brings up for you is brave, meaningful work. I encourage you to bring this practice with you as you go about your week and reflect on these questions as you encounter big and small money moments in your life.

Because learning to name our money emotions may seem like a simple baby step, but it is an essential life and money skill–and a powerful step towards healing.

When we learn to recognize and respond to our money emotions, we empower ourselves to break the cycle of burying our feelings or weaponizing them against ourselves.

We reconnect with our bodies and our inner wisdom.

We grow in self-knowing as we learn how to self-regulate and soothe ourselves.

And we begin to write a new, more loving, more compassionate chapter in our money stories.

This is my dearest wish for you.

P.S. Some of this content is a tiny excerpt from my new Art of Money Workbook, which is now available everywhere online and in many local bookstores as well.

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