How Self-Awareness Can Prevent Financial Self-Sabotage

Photo of a Light House in the early morning hours.

Something happened to me this week that really took me by surprise.

On a day-to-day basis, my old money attitudes have been replaced by healthier, more nuanced, and contextually appropriate beliefs and habits.  But day-to-day life has a certain predictability to it.  Sure, there will be unusual situations that come up here and there, but for the most part, once you get in a groove, it’s fairly easy to maintain.  

Every now and again, however, something comes up from completely out of left-field that completely blindsides us.   In my case, it was the behaviour of a near strangers.  

How it affected me

This event (which I would specify if I could) brought some of my old, long-held money scripts straight to the surface.  Old fears of being manipulated and controlled with money were triggered.  Initially, I was outraged…incensed….boiling over with self-righteous anger.  And right alongside that anger, a particular voice in my choir of money scripts soared over the others.   It was urging me to use money to reclaim my sense control and restore equilibrium to what I saw as a power imbalance.  

Financial self-sabotage

My impulse to use  money in such a way is not in line with my personal values, or goals, whatsoever.   If I had acted on that initial impulse it would have not only been financially damaging – it would have ultimately been emotionally damaging as well because it would have been incongruent with I really want, and the real purpose that money serves in my life.

I was unaware of these particular attitudes and fears of mine for YEARS.  They had remained unexamined and unarticulated in the recesses of my mind.

And yet, these fears and attitudes drove my decisions and behaviours because I was obliviousness of their existence, and utterly lacked understanding as to their origin. As a result, I did real harm to my personal finances – not due to lack of knowledge or education, but due to a lack of self-awareness.

This time around, however, awareness of my underlying attitudes has made all of the difference.  

These are the steps I took instead

Instead of acting on my impulse did the following:

1. Recognized how incredibly triggered I was by this, and explored the emotional response I was having to the situation and where it might be coming from.

2. Took ownership of the fact that my intense reaction to it was not about their behaviour, but about my unresolved stuff around money.

3. Gave myself a proactive time-out from the situation before doing anything.

4. Revisited my core values and the purpose that money serves in my life, and allowed that to determine my response to the situation, rather than responding or reacting directly to the behaviour.

A large part of my surprise was around how strongly I reacted, even after all the personal work I have done around money.   I still am a work in progress and I expect that I always will be.  I’m on a journey of my own.

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Cartoon version of Natasha Knox, founder of Alaphia and Financial Therapist

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