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Thinking About Your Financial Health

In our current economic climate, many people are finding themselves in unpleasant financial constraints. The recently laid-off, downsized or demoted are trying to cope with the new financial realities.
A 2008 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 81% of people stated that money was their number one stressor in life. Financial stress can lead to feeling of depression, anxiety, health issues, decreased functioning and poor self-esteem…it can also be a major underlying cause in marital conflict.
Trauma can take many forms…since money has powerful symbolic meanings, financial trauma can affect us on numerous different levels…the physical, psychological and social aspects of our lives. Financial trauma can be defined as an occurrence in our financial world which greatly disrupts our sense of connection with significant others.
When working with clients who have experienced financial stress in their lives, I often ask them the following question: “What does money represent to you?” Does it mean security? Freedom? Achievement? It can indeed mean all of those things. Research and clinical findings indicate several conscious or partly-conscious emotional connections to money, including love, status, attractiveness, sexuality, control, envy, revenge, fear, shame and depression.
Financial health exists along a spectrum, as does financial distress. If you are feeling that you may have less-than-optimal financial health, take a look at the list below…and reach out for support if needed.
  • Overspending or engaging in shopping binges
  • High levels of consumer debt
  • Engaged in frequent arguments about financial matters with members of your family/social support network
  • Feeling guilty about money earned or inherited
  • Difficulty spending money on self or others
  • Hiding purchases or credit card statements
  • Attempting to compensate financially for a lack of emotional attachment or time
  • Constant worry about finances, interfering with your functioning or causing panic attacks
  • Avoidance of financial decision making
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