April 18, 2022
I was deeply struck by a post called The Statute of Limitations on Regret, posted on the Get Rich Slowly blog. It was about the author’s reaction to a couple who was beating themselves up for the money mistakes they made. And now they are focused on just getting through the day, marking time, and feeling depressed. Yikes.
Well, we all make money mistakes. And on top of our mistakes, we feel horrible about them. Do you struggle with being critical of yourself over a money mistake? Are you plagued with regret over what you did- or didn’t do? Do you keep thinking and thinking and thinking- swirling in a circle—wishing you’d done things differently?
To compound our woes, we rarely talk about them. When we make relationship mistakes, we often hash over the “I can’t believe I did that” with girlfriends over a glass of wine. But when it comes to money, we can be extremely self-critical—suffering pangs of regret and remorse- replaying our money mistakes over and over in our heads– mostly in isolation.
Here is how to heal.
Talk about it! And name the regret. We all know that speaking our truth heals, so get clear about the regret… and tell someone. Whom do you trust with your regret? Who would not judge you but would simply listen and love you anyway? Be specific about what you regret.
“I regret incurring that $23,000 in credit card debt over the last few years.” “I regret borrowing money from my friend 8 years ago and never paying it back.”
“I regret buying a house that I couldn’t really afford.” “I regret not saving more money.”“I regret taking out student loans and then not finishing school.”
Speak your truth out loud. This is healing. Many clients have “confessed” things to me over the years, and it is always healing for them.
Name the belief you were laboring under. What basic belief do you think fueled that behavior?
“I think I believed that I didn’t have to really care about my spending. My mom never did.” “I guess I had this fantasy that I would make enough money to pay the loan back.” “Well, I thought that my income would just keep going up forever.” “I believed that I didn’t really have to think about the future, I was too wrapped up in the present. I believed that things would magically always work out.”
“I think I was at a loss as to what to do with my life, so I decided to hide in school for a while.”
Naming the belief is part of healing. Without naming the belief, it’s easy to repeat the mistake. And sometimes the other person can help you out. You can ask this trusted friend, “What do you think I must have believed in order to have done that? I can’t figure it out. I’m too close.”
Forgive yourself. Yes, you knew this was coming. But truly—you did the best you could with where you were at the time. And besides, you are human. To err is human, remember. And you ARE human. And there is a lot at stake here- so take heed—every study done on the subject of forgiveness tells us that not forgiving harms our health- emotional and physical. You are more prone to illness when you don’t forgive yourself. So can you imagine saying, “I need to move on for the sake of my health and my future self?” Some people have a hard time forgiving because they confuse it with forgetting. But they are not the same. You do not have to forget. You can use what happened as amazing fuel to move you forward. And you deserve to forgive yourself. What happened is one piece of your life, but it is not YOU. And remember that it’s a process. You can start by saying, “I am in the process of forgiving myself.” Repeat ten times a day, for a week.
Find the silver lining- so what is the silver lining? What did you learn? The school of hard knocks is hard, but it isn’t called a “school” for nothing. What would you do differently? If this hadn’t happened, might it have happened in the future in a bigger or different way? There is a learning here. Find it.
What are your new actions? There is good that can come out of this. You’ve learned some things. What are some new actions you can take that would make you feel better? Can you cut up your credit cards? Can you set up an automatic savings account? Can you put in place some new healthier ways to be with money? Do you need to talk to a mortgage broker or your CPA? Is it time to work with a money coach? Pick one action and move forward. It feels good.
Remember, to make mistakes is human. And making money mistakes does NOT define who we are. What we do about them, though, does say a lot. It is our capacity to see and learn and grow that makes us amazing human beings. Transforming and healing your relationship to money is a sacred journey, full of twists and turns at times. But it is a journey none-the-less. Is it time to forgive yourself so you can continue the journey?
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