11 Things Your Financial Therapist Wants You to Know

written by Bari Tessler February 1, 2024

Dear Money Adventurer,

Every single day of our lives, whether we realize it or not, each one of us is writing our own unique Money Story.

Yet, no matter how different our journeys may be, there are certain themes and questions that we all struggle with at some point or another. And when we realize that we aren’t the only ones facing these challenges, the burden is a little easier to carry.

That’s why I share these money teachings– because no matter where we come from or what our lives look like, we all benefit from bringing more awareness, more compassion, and more intention to our relationship with money.

I have spent the last 23 years creating, teaching, and refining my Art of Money methodology, and there are certain money truths that I find myself repeating over and over.

Whether I’m on an Office Hours call with the Art of Money community, sharing about my work in a podcast interview, or having real-life money conversations with my friends, family, or even myself – the same themes show up again and again.

As your guide on this journey, here are the 11 Things Your Financial Therapist (me!) wants you to know.

(If you’d like to listen to this, head here.)

  1. Money is a difficult subject for a lot of folks, and tough love is not the answer. If we want to create a genuinely healthy and sustainable relationship with money, we need to foster a safe space for healing, growth, and deeper self-knowing. That means showing up with love, grace, and compassion for ourselves and where we’re coming from. Please, please be gentle with yourself here. In reality, this is not as simple as it sounds. Please notice when you find yourself going down the self-critical road, and practice adding in some extra grace and compassion towards yourself and your money patterns. Your future self will thank you.
  2. Most of us never received an education in financial literacy or emotional literacy, no matter what background we come from. Yet, our experiences and emotions around money shape our perceptions, opportunities, and our lives. So we need to develop the skills, tools, and language to unpack these emotions and explore our relationship with money. This is why I created my 3-phase Art of Money methodology, weaving together the practical, personal, emotional, psychological, and somatic – creating a comprehensive framework to support you every step of the way. Some of us need a more practical approach, others are looking for more psychological understanding, while still others need the outlet of a body-based practice, or a combination of all of the above. Every one of us is on our own unique journey, which is part of the beauty of this work.
  3. Money is an emotional subject. 85% of our money decisions are based on our emotions. So, it’s essential to learn what set of money emotions come up for us and how to work with them. From shame, guilt, regret, and anxiety to excitement, hope, and joy (to name just a few.) When we learn to name the emotions that come up for us around money and allow ourselves to be present with them, we can heal the past and begin to write a new chapter in our money story.
  4. Your body has a lot to say about money. The anxious butterflies in your stomach when you log in to check your bank accounts, the hot rush of feel when it’s time to talk finances with your honey, or that scattered sensation that seems to crop up every time you have a meeting with your accountant – these physical responses are powerful messengers from your body. This is why somatic tools, like the body check-in, are essential in money and life. When we learn to sit with these sensations instead of resisting them, we reconnect with our bodies, grounding ourselves in the wisdom and new depths of self-knowing they have to share.
  5. Our past does not have to predict our future. Every day presents a new opportunity to bring more loving mindfulness to our relationship with money. Every time you check your account balances, go shopping online, or sit down to talk finances with your honey, is a chance to infuse your money with awareness, openness, and compassion. Your relationship with money has the power to transform your life – if you’ll let it. You can choose to change the story and write a new chapter. We can write new stories with compassion, love, and hope for ourselves and the future. Each baby step ripples outward, like a pebble skipping across a pond, bringing greater understanding, authenticity, and intimacy to our lives and relationships.
  6. Trust your timing. Not anyone else’s. Especially with money. It’s easy to get caught up in comparison and carefully curated social media feeds and feel like you’re falling behind. This is not a race. There is no template, no “right way,” no quick fixes. This money journey is uniquely, intimately, and wholly your own. Only you can decide what is right and best for you. And here you are, showing up with authenticity, aligning yourself with your values, and taking the next step, forging your own way. This is so beautifully brave. Honor your own pace. Celebrate it! Your timing is perfect. I promise.
  7. There are ebbs and flows in life and money. Money curveballs happen, even when you have a great plan in place. We seem to forget this and expect ourselves to earn more, save more, and give more money year after year. But, for most of us, life and money go through ups and downs – there are peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows, and big transition years. Life happens, and we find ourselves navigating new parenthood, a big move, the loss of a job, a divorce, or the death of a loved one. Give yourself permission to take a breath and slow down. Priorities shift. Plans change. It happens to everyone. You have survived countless challenges and as a gentle reminder, this is only temporary. Even if you can’t see the way through just yet, you can bring mindful intention and loving compassion to empower yourself in navigating uncertainty. Please be gentle with yourself.
  8. Give yourself the support you need. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Hire a support team – you can’t be the expert at everything. Asking for help and allowing yourself to receive support can be deeply healing AND empower your growth and understanding. It can be overwhelming to try and figure out whether you need an accountant, a bookkeeper, a financial coach, or a financial planner, so here’s a guide to help you understand the different players on your financial team. This is a loving reminder that you are worthy of support.
  9. Have Compassion for your so-called money mistakes. 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 critical toward yourself the whole time? We’ve all made money “mistakes.” We’re all works in progress and mistakes made are lessons learned. Remember that you did the best you could with what you had in the moment. Those so-called mistakes offer a portal for growth, reflection, and deeper awareness of your values and priorities. Instead of beating yourself up for not knowing better, or doing better, offer yourself some loving grace, compassion, and forgiveness. Celebrate every baby step, brave leap, and lesson learned along the way.
  10. Tiny shifts add up to big change. Every time you do a body check-in when faced with challenging money emotions, every money date (solo or with your sweetie!), every baby step is forging a new path forward. Every time you use these tools, you’re building up your money muscles, writing a new narrative, and showing up in brave, new ways. Celebrate every mindful moment and every compassionate response. And every time you notice resistance, take a breath and infuse a difficult money conversation with patience and kindness. Slowly, steadily, every baby step along the way, you’re crafting your own transformation – even if you can’t see it just yet.
  11. Your money story is so very important to share. So I invite you to honor your lineage and all the beauty and the pain of your family history. I invite you to uncover all the layers that you’ve been weaving into your money narrative. I invite you to be brave and explore how your ancestry has shaped where you are today.

Even when it feels like everyone except you learned about money and knows what they’re doing – it’s simply not true. Each and every one of us is constantly learning, forging our own paths as this journey unfolds before us, growing along the way.

This journey is yours to define, sculpt, and create. It’s yours to forge with hope, love, and deep meaning.

With dear wishes,

P.S. For all the therapists, coaches and financial coaches out there, my Spring 2024 Mentor Program is starting March 21st which you can learn about here. And, if you need a lower-priced option, please check out my year-long Art of Money program, (my signature program for lay folks).

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