Say NO to Negative Money Talk

Saying the word “money” can cause all sorts of mixed emotions. 

Feelings of euphoria? Dread? Fear? Curiosity? 

Unfortunately, the subject of money and personal finance can bring up a lot of negative money talk. This is especially true if you find yourself in a financially tough space, or if you start reflecting back on some money mistakes you’ve made in the past.

Personal finance is NOT simply a series of spreadsheets and numbers.

I cannot stress this enough.

Yes, you can look at personal finance like a robot if you want. But if you’re in a place where your thoughts about money make you want to run away, hide, or scream, then it’s time for a change. It’s time to change your money mindset.

Do any of the following thoughts and emotions sound familiar?

BLAME

It is incredibly easy to cast blame when you’re in a bad financial situation. The blame can be directed internally and/or externally. “Why was I so stupid?” can easily be paired with “This is all the fault of my family/the schools/the job/the government/society/the world!” 

SHAME AND EMBARRASSMENT

Who likes to readily admit they’ve made a mistake, or that they haven’t been financially responsible? Not very many people. There can be a lot of shame and embarrassment as a result, and our gut reaction is to keep these feelings bottled up, as if they don’t exist.

ANXIETY/FEAR

The future is the great unknown, which can be exhilarating or terrifying. When it comes to money, it’s usually the latter. We can find ourselves constantly second-guessing our decisions or imagining the worst possible outcome.

REGRET

If only.

These two words can haunt people to no end. The problem is that your overactive imagination can create alternative realities that look SO much better than your current reality. Spending more time in the world of “if only” can be a dangerous place to linger.

ANGER

That catecholamine surge comes out of nowhere: the feeling starts deep in your chest as your heart rate goes up, your muscles tense, and you can physically feel your temperature rise as your cheeks start to burn. Hurtful words and actions can follow, and it’s not a pretty sight.

RESENTMENT

Unlike that burst of anger, resentment likes to simmer. And simmer. And it can lead to its own cascade of events and emotions, because once it takes hold, it likes to spread even more negative emotion, like a slow growing cancer. 

HOPELESSNESS/RESIGNATION

I give up.

Sometimes, throwing your hands up in the air is about all you can do. There is SO much negativity, and you’re frankly sick and tired of it. Why bother trying when everything seems so hopeless and broken anyway?

A COMMON EXAMPLE

It’s no secret that massive student loans cause a LOT of negative emotions. 

Let’s say you graduated from school with six-figure debt. You thought you knew what you were getting into, but it doesn’t really hit home until you start paying your loans back. You feel like you should be moving ahead in life, but it starts to feel like student loans are holding you back from making certain financial (and life!) decisions.

There can be a good dose of blame here, whether it’s self-blame (which can trigger feelings of shame and embarrassment) or blaming others.

The loan payoff process is daunting and confusing. You think about going for forgiveness, but there is a lot of uncertainty and fear around these plans. Loan repayment terms are 20-25 years, and that’s an awfully long time to wait for forgiveness. Who knows what will happen in the interim? It’s anyone’s guess.

Regret can start to seep in. Was it really all worth it? You feel stuck with few options, and you start to get resentful. This resentment can easily morph into anger. Your dream profession is not what you imagined. Eventually, compassion fatigue and burnout start to seep in, affecting every aspect of your life.

There is a general sense of hopelessness and resignation about your situation. To an outside observer, it’s obvious that you have mentally checked out.

Sorry, that all sounded really grim.

But I see evidence of this with so many veterinarians who are saddled with a lot of student debt. They don’t manifest all of these emotions, but some of them will feel familiar. Of course, there are multiple factors that lead to general burnout and dissatisfaction. But let’s not gloss over the intersection between personal finance and overall wellbeing. The connection is there, and we need to do something about it.

(By the way, if you’re really stressed out about your student loans, PLEASE check out my student loan advice page. There are also plenty of student loan/debt blog posts that are published on this site as well. There are resources out there for you, so use them to your advantage!)

SO WHAT DO WE DO?

Being in a negative space can feel oddly comforting if that’s what you’re used to. But as you can see, it’s really not in your best interest. It’s definitely not going to get you to a place where you will feel fulfilled and thrive.

These emotions are heavy. They can each lead to a cascade of MORE negative emotions, a vicious cycle that seems to have no end. Not only that, but they take up way too much precious mental space and energy. Who here has any extra energy to spare? If so, don’t feed that energy into black hole….it isn’t worth it.

The first step is to acknowledge and accept all of the choices and actions that led to where you are today with your money. Some of it was under your control, and other parts weren’t. Regardless, what’s done is done. 

If you have a hangup about a choice that you’ve made, remember that we’ve all made less than stellar choices in the past; who hasn’t? The person who made those choices was a different version of you; show him/her some compassion. Forgive your younger self if that’s what you need to do. 

One helpful hack: Let’s say it’s not you, but your closest friend who is stuck in this negative mindset. How would you approach him/her? What would you say?

I’m willing to bet that you would be much more forgiving and compassionate towards your best friend than you are with yourself (so crazy, right?). So do yourself a favor and treat yourself the same way you would treat your closest friend.

Going through this first step of acceptance is huge. It is freeing. It lightens your load, because you no longer have to feel stuck in that place of negativity.

The next step: Transform the negative into a positive. Focus on the specific changes that you want to make to improve your financial situation, starting NOW. Start small and build momentum in the right direction.

It is incredibly empowering to know that no matter what has happened in the past, YOU will be the one who gets to create great change going forward. 

Here’s what a positive money mindset feels like: 

  • Confidence
  • Empowerment
  • Calm/peace
  • Hopefulness/enthusiasm
  • Acceptance
  • Gratitude
  • Respect
  • Perseverance
  • Resilience

Negative versus positive money mindset….which would you rather have?

MONEY LESSONS= LIFE LESSONS

By the way, did you notice that a negative mindset doesn’t only apply to personal finance? A negative mindset can be pervasive, especially with veterinary professionals who hold themselves up to very high standards and expectations. 

Whether you’re experiencing a lot of negative self-talk when it comes to money, or whether you’re experiencing this in other parts of your life, the diagnosis and treatment are very similar. Realize it, accept it for what it is, then take action. Give yourself permission to move towards positivity.

You’ve got this!

Do you find yourself surrounded by a lot of negative money talk, whether it’s with yourself or others around you? How do you handle this? Any tips or hacks do you use to overcome this? Comment below!

4 Comments

  1. Brittany on August 28, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Finding this blog has been a huge shift for me from negative, oppressive thoughts about money to optimistic, encouraging thoughts. I like that you included perseverance in the positive money mindset. Paying off student loans and reaching financial independence isn’t going to happen overnight, but because my attitude has changed, it’s empowering to perservere!

    • RLDVM on August 28, 2019 at 11:04 am

      Right on! So glad you’re finding value and that you’re making the changes HAPPEN! Like you said, it’s not like your problems will be solved overnight. But you’re on the path to getting to where you want to be, and the journey is going to be a lot more enjoyable!

  2. The Vetducator on August 28, 2019 at 9:18 am

    This is so important to discuss and thank you for tackling it! I’ve embraced the ‘circle of control’ principles advocated by MMM (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/07/how-big-is-your-circle-of-control/). I think it helps let go of what’s in the past.

    • RLDVM on August 28, 2019 at 11:02 am

      Not addressing the emotional aspects of money is a problem, especially when people want to make changes. Plus, I think it’s more interesting than focusing on spreadsheets and numbers!

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