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  • Writer's pictureGeorgina Sturmer

Money Dysmorphia

Our relationship with money is about so much more than a simple set of transactions. 'Money Dysmorphia' seems to be a fairly new term, but it describes a story that many of us would recognise. It's a sense of insecurity or instability about money, in a way that is out of kilter with the contents of our bank account. I spoke to Metro all about this topic. Click here to read the article, or read on to hear what I had to say.

All day long, we absorb messages from what we read, hear and see around us.  Some of us may be more susceptible than others to these messages, but most of us internalise them in some shape or form.  So if we are bombarded with images and stories about spending, saving, salaries and consumption, this can influence the judgements that we make about our own money.  We might feel more compelled to make a specific purchase, or to live beyond our means, in order to live up to the images that we see online.

If we are feeling secure in ourselves, then we’re able to look at other people’s lives and experiences in a calm, measured way.  But if we are feeling vulnerable or insecure, then comparison really is the ’thief of joy’.  It can trigger feelings of embarrassment or shame about our own situation, which can lead to anger, jealousy or frustration.  

This can lead to real problems or ruptures in our relationships.  It’s hard to be a good friend or partner if we are experiencing undercurrents of jealousy or frustration.  We might become angry at ourselves, or at the people in our lives, if we are constantly comparing ourselves to them.  This might leave us feeling depressed or anxious.  

Last year we saw the ‘quiet luxury’ trend gaining momentum, suggesting that we should spend more money on luxurious, timeless pieces.  But it’s not all about excessive consumption.  We’ve recently seen the ‘loud budgeting’ trend, where social media users have embraced the idea of going public about their desire to save and live within their means.  This feels like a breath of fresh air, encouraging us to be open about wanting to spend less.  And it’s timely for January, when many of us need to cut back after the excess of the festive season.  

Our relationship with money is a complex story.  It’s likely to begin in our upbringing, when we are influenced by our parents and their relationship with money.  It’s worth reflecting on your past experiences with money, and figuring out where your pattens of saving and spending originate from.  This is likely to help you to begin to untangle any underlying anxieties about money.  It might be to do with safety and security.  Or perhaps it’s linked with social status and the perceived judgements of other people. 

In any case, once you’ve recognised where it comes from, you can then consider how it’s impacting on your daily life.  And what steps you can put in place to build a new relationship with your finances.  This might involve practical steps, like working out a realistic budget and financial goals if you haven’t done so before.  It might also involve looking more deeply at your emotional needs, and whether your spending has simply become a coping strategy for what you feel inside.  

Figure out what boundaries you need to have in place in order to protect yourself.  Maybe it’s a time limit, or deleting certain apps.  Or a ‘digital detox’ to kick start a sense of perspective.

Keen to explore more?

I love working with people to help them to understand themselves, and why they feel the way that they do. If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch. Click here to contact me or click here to book a free 30-minute introductory chat.

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