Why it’s important to separate your self worth from your money

As a financial coach, I hear from a lot of people who beat themselves up because of their financial situation. They are stressed out about money and they blame themselves. They feel embarrassed, ashamed, isolated, and stupid for the situation they are in. And it’s normal to feel that way; it’s often easier to be angry at ourselves, rather than figure out what we need to do to make big changes. Plus, financial problems are still pretty taboo in our society, and we’re often told that we’re to blame if we have debt or other issues. But this kind of negative self-talk can be damaging beyond the bank account. It can lead to shame, hopelessness, depression, and even suicide.

This month is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, so I want to take today talk about why you should try to separate your self worth from your money.

Your Net Worth Doesn’t Determine Your Self Worth

It might be easy to forget when you’re out there reading blogs and scrolling through Instagram, but your net worth does not determine your worth as a human. Your worthiness does not rely on how much money you have in the bank or how much debt you’ve paid off. It also isn’t reflected in how much cute stuff you own or how often you travel.

Not only will you feel like shit if you rely on your financial standing to feel good about yourself, but it may even discourage you from making positive changes. If you think that you’re bad with money and that you’ve always been bad with money, you will have no desire to move forward. You’ll continue to feel bad about yourself and beat yourself up, and feel incapable of making changes.

Your Past Mistakes Don’t Define You

Just because you’ve made mistakes with your money (or any other part of your life) in the past, doesn’t mean you’re bad with money or a bad person. It’s important to separate who you are as a person from your past behaviors. If you define yourself based on what you’ve done in the past, shame will overwhelm you. You’ll be stuck and paralyzed in a negative loop. On the flip side, if you recognize that you want to behave differently, you If you see the possibility that you can make changes for yourself, you’ll be more motivated to make them.

Your Well Being is More Important Than Your Money

I’ve seen many people toil away in toxic workplaces, or in bad relationships, because they think it’s the more responsible thing to do. Perhaps they would have to take a pay cut if they changed jobs, or they’d have to pay higher rent if they left their relationship. These are understandable worries to have! Money and being able to afford your life is no joke. But constant unhappiness is no joke either.

Earlier this year, I was giving a presentation to a group of female bartenders and one person raised their hand and said, “I know giving up Lyft would save me money, but I work until 3am and it’s the only way I feel safe getting home.” And this is so true! It’s okay to spend money that helps you protect or take care of yourself. The same is true for things like therapy, hiring a coach, eating healthy food, or paying for a gym membership. Don’t beat yourself up for spending money on the things that improve your overall safety and well being.

If you don’t believe me about separating your worth from your money, take it from Brené Brown:

This blog post is part of the 3rd Annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

This article was originally posted on MaggieGermano.com. 

Maggie Germano is a feminist and financial coach for women. She helps women improve their relationship with money so they can take control of their financial future. She does this through one-on-one financial coaching, workshops, writing, and speaking engagements. She also founded Money Circle, which is a safe space for women to talk about money without feeling judged. It’s a way to create community and openness around personal finance. Passionate about many issues affecting women, Maggie is a member of the Women’s Information Network and was trained as a salary negotiation facilitator by AAUW.