How To Navigate Shame and Take Control of Your Financial Goals
Click, a video from the Dave Ramsey show popped up on my YouTube recommendations: My family is shaming me for not giving them money. Okkuurrrr.
Dave Ramsey is a controversial financial advisor that believes in living debt-free, period.
He helps people reach financial freedom through 7 baby steps.
This caller had reached baby step 2- she and her husband were finally debt-free. They had told their family when they initially started their financial freedom journey, but now that they were debt-free, her family was shaming her for not giving them money.
The agony in her voice was heart-wrenching.
The situation left her in a sense of perpetual turmoil. She sobbed, "I feel bad because, you know, they're my parents. I don't want to let them down".
How many of us can relate to this? No matter how old we are, there's something in us that never wants to let our parents down.
There's a desire to please them with your identity, relationships, career, and other aspects of your life. This can even extend to an overwhelming desire to please other people.
Dave told her straight up, "No, you don't need to give them money. That's adult child abuse."
She paused, then started bawling, accepting the validation.
I know, to some of us, adult child abuse may seem a bit of an extreme word, but it's a form of financial abuse and manipulation.
He advised that, as we become financially secure, we can gift, never lend money to family. If we get any money returned, it's a bonus. His reasoning? They are capable adults.
We're not talking about a family member who is mentally ill or physically unable. We're talking about healthy adults.
Your family shaming you for not giving them money is wrong.
What Exactly Is Shame?
Brene Browne, a shame, vulnerability, and empathy researcher, defines shame as the intensely painful emotion or experience of believing that we're flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we've experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.
Other definitions go further to say that shame is self-hate, feeling distressed for doing something wrong.
Why Shame Is Unproductive
She says that shame isn't helpful or productive. It doesn't advance your cause.
Our fear of being disconnected or undervalued by people can lead to destructive behaviours.
Shame holds you back because it creates self-sabotaging behaviour- actions and thoughts that hold you back from doing the things you want to do. Behaviours like giving away money that you don't have when your goal is financial freedom.
When you continually give your family money ahead of yourself, you'll never end your family cycle of poverty. You'll never reach a state of abundance to create a new legacy.
This is all the more reason to reject feelings of shame and keep firm on your boundaries.
Yes, you're going to feel uncomfortable emotions. That's normal. More importantly, what's your goal?
Your goal is financial freedom.
Your goal is to be in a position where you're able to give without feeling financially strained. Your goal is abundance. Your goal is gratitude by giving back.
You have to help yourself out of poverty first. You have to be your own backup plan. Otherwise, who's going to do it?
If I Have $100, Am I Still Broke?
If you have debt, you're broke.
If you don't have at least 6 months of living expenses saved up, you're broke.
If you don't have a retirement or health plan, you're broke.
You want to help so badly, but helping yourself is the first step.
Navigate Shame by Dragging It Kicking and Screaming From Under the Rug
1. Shining a Light on Shame
Dr. Brown comments, "the less we talk about shame, the more power it has over our lives." She goes on to say that we need to raise enough awareness about shame, call it out for what it is, and put a voice to it. Only then can we cut it down.
The key to sharing your shame is doing it with a person who can hold empathy for you and your circumstances. People's empathy keeps shame in perspective and helps find practical solutions to minimize it.
Minimizing feelings about shame by exposing it will keep you on track with your financial goals.
2. Separate What You Do From Who You Are
When asked, who are you? We often babble off our accolades: our job, where we live, and what we represent.
We base our self worth on these achievements and what people think of them. What happens when we lose these accomplishments or when people just don't like us?
Our self-esteem plummets.
The best thing you can do is cultivate compassion for yourself. You have to be your own cheerleader. Marisa Peer, world-renown speaker and Transformational Therapy trainer says, "the most effective way to boost self-esteem is to praise yourself."
Building your self-esteem is another way to reduce feelings of shame and focus on your financial goals.
3. Decode What You’re Feeling
People shame because they were taught to do so. They never questioned the logic in it.
However, other, less destructive emotions are similar to shame.
Guilt is even more logical than shame.
Shame paralyzes and focuses on itself. In shame, we feel that we deserve to be yelled at, criticized, and all the other harmful things that result from our actions.
Guilt is constructive and focuses on behaviour.
It's important to differentiate what you're feeling because shame has no use in making you a better person or helping you achieve your goals. It's self-deprecating.
It attacks your self-esteem and eats away at your self-worth.
Guilt can be used to create new behaviours if you've knowingly done something wrong.
Refusing to give a capable family member money when you're broke is not wrong.
Staying focused on your financial goal and calling out shame is the best way to help your family.
The best way to help your family is to shed light on shame and stay on track with your financial goals, despite how they might feel.
WRITTEN BYArlene Ambrose