Have Compassion for Your Financial “Mistakes”

written by Bari Tessler September 19, 2022

Dear Money Adventurer,

I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my Money Mochas with you. This free money support mini-series is my way of “paying it forward,” expressing my gratitude for all that I have been honored to learn in my own money journey, and all the encouragement you have offered me along the way. It’s my way of saying, “I see you,” “you aren’t alone,” and “there is a better way.”

These teachings aren’t a quick fix, they’re the foundation you need to start building a more meaningful, compassionate, and financially savvy relationship with money in your life.

Bari Tessler | Money Mochas

Each Money Mocha is a tiny taste test of the compassionate teachings, body-based wisdom, and real-life money-savvy skills that you’ll discover in my year-long money school, The Art of Money. This flagship program is now open for registration. If these bite-sized morsels of money inspiration have you longing for more, you can get all the details and join us for a life-changing journey right over here.

On that note, today’s Money Mocha is a soothing sip of Money Healing wisdom, fortified with an extra shot of compassionate truth, and a dollop of gentle curiosity. Please pair with a generous serving of self-compassion, and know that every word is steeped in so very much love.

I want you to know that we all carry money shame.

And shame is a tricky beast.

It sneaks in uninvited, through cracked windows and unlocked doors you thought you’d closed behind you.

Shame slips in when you least expect it, like when you’re celebrating the brave baby steps and bold leaps you’re taking in your money journey. That’s when your guard is down, after all.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again in my private financial therapy sessions and in the Art of Money community. Just when you learn a new money skill, shame sneaks in, berating and bullying you because you “should have” known.

You take the practical money step of choosing a bookkeeping system and getting all set up with your new personal tracking software. After just a few weeks, you start catching “money leaks”— that old software subscription you didn’t realize you’d forgotten to cancel, plus some late fees and interest charges you can avoid now that you’re keeping closer track of things.

In this moment, you have a choice. Will you shame yourself for not noticing before?

Or will you cut yourself some slack and choose to celebrate your new awareness instead?

Or perhaps, after years of fighting with your taxes yourself– through gritted teeth and countless pots of coffee–you finally hired an accountant. 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 giving yourself this expert support? Or shame yourself for waiting so long?

This is the double-edged sword of learning, my friends. We can wield the lessons we learn wisely — and cut through the confusion, forging a new trail ahead of us. Or we can use it as a weapon to cut ourselves down.

Breaking old patterns takes time, practice, and abundant compassion. 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. We need to learn how to tune into our bodies and our Money Stories with loving, gentle curiosity. That way, when we do take the practical steps to set up our bookkeeping systems or reach out for support — and big, challenging Money Emotions flare to life — we have the tools, resources, and emotional capacity to choose compassion instead of shame.

As you grow in your money journey and get savvier about money systems, you might look back at past decisions and behaviors with a shake of your head.

Why did you let yourself get pressured into that expensive lease when you knew the monthly payment was uncomfortably high? Why didn’t you try to negotiate a higher starting salary? How could you have been so reckless about spending, racking up overwhelming credit card debt in college?

Please, I urge you to have compassion for your past self, the way you behaved with money, and the decisions you did, or did not, make. Even the so-called “mistakes.” Give yourself the grace of letting what cannot be changed become a valuable lesson learned instead. Take a deep breath and tell that shaming, blaming inner critic that you’re writing a new chapter in your Money Story. Exhale. Keep growing.

I say this with so much love– what is the point in trying to update your financial life if you feel aggressively critical toward yourself the whole time?

We’ve all made money “mistakes.” We all have baggage. We’re all works in progress.

Every single one of us also brings unique gifts to our money journey, and we all travel through challenges along the way. We’re only human, and we’re all doing the best we can with what we have.

So, how do we learn from our so-called money mistakes with grace and compassion?

The answer may surprise you. This isn’t about “right” or “wrong;” Beating ourselves up isn’t going to make us feel better or free us from the shame and frustration we feel around our money mistakes.

But we can learn from our missteps by bringing gentle and intentional awareness to them.

The next time your inner critic starts a running commentary of the mistakes you’ve made with money, or something in your daily life triggers feelings of regret, shame, or anger around the money choices you made in the past, stop what you’re doing.

Offer yourself a dose of compassion for your past financial missteps.

Breathe. Deeply. Slowly.

Do a body check-in.

Notice the feelings that are coming up for you. No judgment, no “should’ve-would’ve-could’ves,” or getting lost in “what ifs.” Simply allow yourself to be present with your emotions and aware of how you feel in this moment.

Give yourself permission to get savvier with each money decision you make. Choose to let go of your mistakes and let them be lessons instead. Nurture your growth with personal practices. Set up your systems. Get the support you need. And celebrate every step of the way.

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 and this unfolding journey.

Learning isn’t a reason to beat up on yourself for what you didn’t know before. This is an invitation to put down the tough love and take the gentle path instead.

Always with love.

P.S. The Art of Money year-long program is open for registration for a little window right now. If you would like to learn the details to see if it’s a fit, go here.

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