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I Talked To A Financial Therapist To Learn More About "Money Shame" — And How To Cope With It

"Mistakes are a part of engaging with money. We get to decide if we want to learn from those mistakes or if we'll allow them to take us down a shame spiral."

The way we think and feel has a huge impact on our wallets, even though it's not always obvious. But unfortunately, many of us experience a lot of negative emotions when it comes to our cash, like anxiety and shame.

So how can you spot your money shame, and what can you do to heal it? I reached out to financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin to learn more.

To get started, let's make sure we're all on the same page about what exactly money shame is. "Shame is an internal feeling that comes when we believe we are bad," says Lindsay Bryan-Podvin.

Woman looking at her bills holding a sign that says help

You might also feel money shame when you read advice about how much you "should" have saved at your age or when your boomer uncle asks (again, ugh) when you're going to stop "wasting money on rent" and buy a house.

According to Bryan-Podvin, money shame can cause us to freeze up and avoid our finances, which keeps us stuck.

If your relationship with money involves shame, Bryan-Podvin says your first step to healing is taking a clear-eyed look at your feelings and where they come from. "Acknowledge the shame is there and that it's multifaceted."

Young woman writing in her journal at home

A great place to start healing your shame is by redirecting negative self-talk about your finances, particularly things like, "I'm bad with money." These thoughts reinforce your shame and disempower you from making changes.

Also, steer clear of financial advice that tells you "all debt is bad." The truth is, most Americans have debt, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.

Person throwing their bills in the air

And look out for judgments you might hold (or hear from others) about what you spend money on, like the classic "You're wasting so much cash on coffee." If a purchase sparks joy and fits in with your spending plan, it was a good buy.

Bryan-Podvin also recommends finding shame-free spaces to learn and talk about money. "Nowadays, there are more personal finance experts to learn from that aren't rooted in shame."

If you find that shame pops up when you're comparing your finances to other people's, pump the breaks and refocus on yourself. Your money is personal, and you're allowed to make decisions that work for *you*.

Person looking at their phone in a dark room and feeling bad about themself

Finally, accept that you will probably make some money mistakes at some point. Everyone makes mistakes (even money experts), and they don't mean that you're bad.

Is shame part of your relationship with money? Shame thrives in secrecy, so share your money shame in the comments. Whatever you're feeling, you're not alone.

And for more stories about life and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts