7 Signs of Money Trauma (And How It’s Messing Up Your Practice)

As a sensitive therapist, there is nothing like running a business to bring up every single unresolved issue around money.

You think deeply about the financial aspects of your practice and personal life. Money is about so much more than money– it’s about worth, power, privilege, shame, and fear. 

Financial questions or tasks cause your thoughts to spiral downwards, your mood plummets, then you get panicky and spacey.  Suddenly you’re second guessing being an entrepreneur and certain everyone else has all their money shit together, except for you.  

By the end of your inner-monologue-turned-shame-spiral, you’re certain a $10 fee increase will drive all your clients away so you might as well just add another day at the group practice or apply for another insurance panel.  You get sucked into a endless hole of watching YouTube complications of Jim pranking Dwight on “The Office” so you can soothe yourself and go back to your day

Two things are not changing soon: your sensitive nature and being a private practice owner.

You’re not doomed.  If you can learn to recognize signs of money trauma, you can stop the shame spiral and endless overthinking.  You can learn to trust the flow of money, and know that with self-work and support, it is possible to heal your money wounds.

The first step is identifying how money trauma shows up for you.  Read on to learn how to recognize signs of money trauma so you can stop blaming yourself for all your financial fears and start doing something about it.

1) You avoid money conversations like you avoid Wal-mart on Black Friday.

Talking about money is so uncomfortable for you, that you will avoid talking about it at all costs.  If you’re sensitive, this impact is compounded because you already tend to take on the peacekeeper role or absorb other people’s feelings about money–giving you further reason to avoid the topic.  

Over time, this really messes up your business (and your life).  If you can’t talk about money, how can you talk to a client who has a past due balance? Or raise your fees? How can you negotiate a higher rate with your group practice? Or insurance company?

2) You feel guilty about making good money.  Deep down, you feel “safer” when you are just getting by. 

You feel you only ‘deserve’ a certain amount of money. You don’t trust yourself with more.  You consciously or unconsciously sabotage your business and personal spending to keep you in what I call ‘the safe zone’ – just enough to live a semi-comfortable life, but never enough to make a true change in your long term financial stability.

If you’re socially conscious and also someone who carries privilege in your culture (i.e. white, cisgender, able-bodied, educated, etc), this guilt may also be rooted in your awareness that you have less barriers than others when it comes to making money.  This is all the more reason for you to look at your money trauma so you can make choices that are aligned with your values, as opposed to your fear and guilt.

3) Past money choices still haunt you.

Perhaps you have credit card debt from a time they were unemployed or ill, a loan you defaulted on, or debt from a divorce.  You may be a survivor of financial abuse by your parent or ex-partner.  You may have made some unethical money choices when you were feeling desperate and broke.

Since you can’t forgive yourself, you make money choices that repeat this feeling of shame.  If something negative happens money-wise, you feel like you deserve it and it’s due to your past choices.

4) You have strong body sensations or emotional reactions around money conversations that do not easily pass.

When you think of your debt, you feel spacey and light-heading. Thinking about raising your fees fills you with dread and a pit in your stomach.  Talking about difficult money topics puts you on the verge of tears or makes you completely shut down into numbness.  This experience contributes to your avoidance of money topics, lashing out at others,  or impulsive or emotional money decisions.

It’s normal to have some emotion when discussing money, however if these emotions do not easily resolve, it may be a sign of money trauma.

5) No amount of money ever feels like enough.

Even if you raised your fees and still got clients, it’s still not enough.  Even if you paid off all your debt, got ahead on your mortgage, paid of your credit card–it would never feel like enough.  Even if you had a full practice, you would will not feel safe and fulfilled.

As a result, you feel close to burnout. You chase the elusive ‘enough’ feeling that never arrives, no matter the goals you reach. You make business choices that are more focused on the bottom line, as opposed to people and the heart of your profession.  It’s not because you don’t care about people, you’re just so afraid of not having enough money.

6) Your business finances are flawless, yet your personal finances are chaos.

When you started your business, it felt like a fresh start.  It became this precious, protected part of your finances that you could control and feel proud of.  Good for you!  The fact you have skillfully run your business shows a lot of what you have already worked thought with your money trauma.

And yet…your personal finances are a mess.  Even when your business is thriving, you still can’t bring yourself to look at your personal finances.  You feel frozen and stuck when you think of looking at your personal money.  You’re convinced that if you just keep plugging along with your business, your personal finances will eventually sort themselves out, right? (Spoiler alert: NOPE.) 

7) Deep down, there is still a small seed of shame that gets in the way of feeling truly liberated with money.

Even if you’ve worked through some of your money stuff, you still have a sense of unease you can’t put your finger on.  You’ve figured out your money shit, right? So that means if you still have anxiety about money, it’s about something else.  You make it about the stress of running a business or your partner’s spending habits, as opposed to about your unresolved money shame. You never get to feel fully at peace and rest around this topic.

Part of this shame may also be related to guilt around privilege and worry that you’re not doing the right thing with your money.

You don’t have to do this on your own.

Building a business, especially as a sensitive therapist, can be a lonely road.  True healing doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  You need support. You need tools. You need community.   

I’m determined to be your guide and biggest cheerleader as you as make these courageous changes in your financial life. 

Let’s see what we can do to resolve this money trauma once and for all.

Schedule your 30-minute Clarity Call.


 Seeking community?
I offer a free Facebook Group just for Sensitive Therapists in Private Practice. Join a vibrant and intimate community of therapists who are just like you–sensitive and ready to shift their money story.

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