shame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
blame: responsibility for a fault or wrong.
What could be more destructive to your financial success and happiness than wallowing in blame and shame? And yet, this is the internal operating system that guides beliefs, behaviors and habits for many of us.
“It’s your fault!”
“I feel so stupid”
“You didn’t tell me!”
“I can’t (financially) keep up with my friends and family!”
Blame and shame—like a tape playing in your head—will keep you from installing new beliefs that will lead to a happier and more fulfilling financial life. That’s why I devoted a whole chapter to the subject in my new book “The Feel Rich Project”.
Living in a blame and shame mentality is like driving in the express lane on a highway to hell. It’s impossible to focus on living the life you crave when every action (my investment tanked) creates a knee-jerk reaction of negativity (I’m just too stupid to understand this). You spiral down instead of picking yourself up and making a new, better decision.
You need a little attitude adjustment to get yourself out of that spiral.
Start by considering where your thinking comes from. Did you hear it from your parents when you were growing up? Perhaps you’re mimicking their behavior. Or maybe you blame someone else (or your situation) because you feel powerless to make changes.
Next, spend some time considering your values and why they are so important to you. Values are statements of what matters most to you, such as: I want to ensure I don’t outlive my resources. Or, I want to live debt-free so I can sleep at night knowing I’m on the right track.
Your values are uniquely yours and deserve to be held as the focal point of your habits and behavior. State your values clearly and concisely. What MUST happen for you to feel satisfied? What are you grateful for and what can you celebrate daily? If you’re stuck for an answer, think…your children, your partner, your health, your parents, your friends, etc.
OK, so now you know where your blame and shame come from AND you know what you value most. So you can rework your blame and shame statements with something positive and affirming:
Instead of “It’s your fault”, try: “This is not working as well as I had hoped, so how can we work together to make better decisions?”
Instead of “I feel so stupid”, try, “I will begin gathering better information and work with experts to become better informed.”
Instead of “You didn’t tell me”, try: “It appears that our communication needs some work. What can we do to make it more effective?”
Instead of “I can’t (financially) keep up with my friends and family”, try: “I know what I value most and the life that others live is irrelevant to me. I direct my resources to my highest values. Those who love me will not judge my decisions.”
Engaging in blame and shame about your money is clearly both destructive and meaningless. You can shift from negative, hurtful beliefs with your decision to approach your financial life from a more positive direction. Chances are, changing your mindset won’t happen overnight and you’ll have a few bumps and bruises. But if you focus on your values and steadfastly work to live them with your money, you’ll bust out of your former blame and shame self to your strong, powerful and successful self.
I know you can do it.