This might be controversial, but…

This might be controversial, but…

How many times have you decided to listen to someone about managing money, only to feel guilt and shame for how you spend money, how you think about money, and what you don’t know about money? So many personal finance educators, advisors, and thought leaders win views and follows with a tough-love approach, but I’m not convinced that it works for most people. If it did, wouldn’t we all be doing what they say and riding off into financial abundance?

 As more and more of my clients have brought financial stressors into the therapy space, I’ve come to see money management as a wellness behavior in need of wellness behavior strategies to heal our financial lives. This means that we can shift how see and relate to money, from something practical and scary, to something that is a process and a practice.

 Money is like water. Water and money flow through our lives, maybe in a torrent or maybe in a trickle. What we do is direct that flow with how we bring money into our lives and where we direct it through and out of our lives and into someone else’s.

Directing the flow of our money is a practice. We are all practicing it, all the time. But the ways in which we are directing our financial flow is, for most people, inefficient and haphazard rather than by intention.

 This isn’t your fault. Americans are woefully under-educated about money, yet, it feels like everyone (especially judging family members) expect us to intuitively just know how to effectively manage our money. THEN, much of the advice we are given does not align with how we actually live. So, we find ourselves living with our old, inefficient practices and we put off change for another day.

 It doesn’t have to be this way.

  • When we come into relationship with our financial flow, we can begin to unwind the stuck places and become empowered in our financial lives.
  •  We begin to step out from under financial guilt and shame and into financial confidence.
  •  We practice having our money work for us, rather than us working for it.
  •  We no longer feel “less than” our money. We run the show.
  •  We release the all-or-nothing pressures we place on ourselves and begin to move with financial flexibility.
  •  We create automatic money flows that direct our money in alignment with our true values and goals. These money flows efficiently build our financial freedom.

 To learn more, register for my free class, Empowered Peace: Women+’s 4-Step Path to Financial Freedom.

 Inside, I share with you

  •  The 4 steps I take women+ through to practice intentional financial wellness
  • Plus, learn 6 myths that keep women+ from pursuing Financial Wellness
  • Why almost every financial situation IS fixable with the right strategy in place
  • How to make lasting financial changes and sustain Financial Wellness over time
How Do You Define Wellness?

How Do You Define Wellness?

There are many ways to be well.

We get a lot of messages, often conflicting, about what we should do to be healthier and happier. Many of these messages have subtle, and not so subtle, messages of shame and guilt imbedded in them.

We can feel like wellness is something we are morally obligated to pursue to be worthy of existing. The truth is, we do not owe anyone wellness, and we certainly do not owe anyone conforming to their definition of wellness.

To create our own definition of wellness, we want to answer the following questions:
  1. What are my wellness values? Do I know why I want to practice wellness and what I want “wellness” to look like for me?
  2. What is my intention? Do I know what I hope to get out of practicing a specific wellness behavior?
  3. What are my circumstances? Does this wellness practice realistically work with my current situation, schedule, temperament, and obligations?
  4. What is my history with this aspect of my life?
Case Example: Kelli

Kelli knows that she values self-care and self-worth. She also wants to be physically stronger than she is right now and she is exploring how to pursue this in a way that is healthy for her.

She has this goal because she wants to be able to play with her children and lift them up more comfortably. When asked if there were any more reasons she wants to be strong, she said, a little surprised, “well, I’m afraid my partner is not attracted to me and a part of me is worried they will look elsewhere.”

Kelli also has a history of over-exercising when she was younger. She used to use aerobic machines for hours at the gym. Today, having two small children, she cannot spend “hours” at the gym, but she feels she can use hand-weights at home.  When Kelli used to workout, she felt that the more she exercised, the more people would like her, and her mom, especially, would approve.

At face value, Kelli’s goal of “increased strength” is neutral/positive. When we look at the bigger picture, we can see that there are aspects of this practice that may not be aligned with her higher goal of being true to herself and increasing her self-esteem. Her strength goal is tied up with a belief that she has to earn her worth in the eyes of others. Because this factor is in play in her partnership, she is at risk for overexercise, even if it is a different type of exercise and her time is more limited.

While Kelli’s circumstances make ‘hand-weights at home’ a healthy practice, there is some risk in her intention and history with this practice. By working with her therapist, or even journaling about her fears about her relationship, she can increase the degree to which this wellness practice aligns with her value around self-care and self-worth.

When we explore our wellness goals through this lens, we can make sure that our wellness practices are truly aligned with our values and truly serving us, rather than our wellness practice serving our fears.

Wellness Tip: 

Get out your journal and write on the question,

“How do I define Wellness?”

Notice any “outside” influences. Are you seeking wellness to gain approval, a sense of worthiness to others, or to avoid rejection and abandonment? Have you attached a moral reasoning to your definition of Wellness? If you defined it in a way that was just about you and for you, how does your definition change?

5 Hacks to Shop Less and Be Fulfilled More

5 Hacks to Shop Less and Be Fulfilled More

Honestly, I love shopping.

Online. Not in stores. Today, I go to the mall only if I absolutely must (which isn’t a thing) and I hate every minute of it. My 90s gen x self rolls her eyes at this.

But, online shopping? Yes, please! Online shopping is the total experience for this introvert. I can search for what I want. No one asks if they can help me find anything. No one bumps into me. No bright lights. I can choose the brightness of my screen. I didn’t even have to get out of bed. (Gen x me nods seeing my point.) The best part, two-days-from-now-me gets to open a present, that I actually want, and I didn’t have to attend a party to get. It’s just complete.

I’m also aware that, for some irrational reason, online shopping feels like I’ve accomplished something, checked off a to-do. I click that purchase button and I feel, “phew! Glad that’s taken care of.” I have acquired something.

In her book, Loaded: Money, Psychology, and How to Get Ahead Without Leaving Your Values Behind, Dr. Sarah Newcomb writes that there is a “possession-self link.” the things we own feel like a part of our selves. It’s why we feel so violated when someone steals from us. Our “things” become part of our identity, so purchasing things can feel like increasing our sense of identity, especially if we are feeling down or our egos are bruised. We are wired to feel good when we buy stuff. It’s not a character flaw. It’s just being human.

So what’s a girl trying honor her commitment to her Financial Wellness to do? 
  1. Don’t shop when you feel down. When we do this, we reinforce shopping as a solution to this particular problem and it’s not. If we are thirsty, we don’t eat rocks. We get some water. Slow down and ask yourself what is really going on. What do these feelings need? A hug? To hear that you are loved, not alone? Offer these things to that feeling.
  2. When it is time to shop for something (groceries, clothes, household supplies, makeup), set a budget before you shop, and use cash if possible. By shopping with an amount you decided on when you were rational and connected to your commitment to your Financial Wellness, you are increasing your self-trust and the likelihood that you will do this again, and again.
  3. When you add something new to your closet or your home, let go of something you don’t need or use anymore. Donate these things or give them away in a “buy nothing” group. This is a great way to reuse and recycle.
  4. Create a go-to list of free feel-good things you can do instead of shop as a social or boredom-buster activity. As women, we can feel a lot of pressure from each other to shop as recreation and social connection. We may feel embarrassed about saying that we don’t have the money to spend that way (or we do, but we don’t want to). It may lead to both friends secretly not wanting to do the thing you are doing! Identify other ways of connecting or enjoying yourself. (Or, spend money, but do it on a shared experience rather than buying more stuff.)
  5. Remember to be fluid. Practicing Financial Wellness is not rigid. You can be mindlessly shopping, already made purchases, and stop. Maybe you return them, or maybe you just don’t buy the next thing. Any step toward Financial Wellness is a positive step and we can take that step at any moment of the day. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of progress!

Shopping IS fun. There will never be a time that I don’t enjoy the thrill of the purchase. However, we can give ourselves the chance to know the thrill of the rewards of delayed satisfaction and seeing our debt dwindle and our savings grow.

You’ve got this!
Financial Wellness Tip: 

Get to know what shopping does for you. I love the online shopping experience. You may love everything about going into a store. Whatever your poison, get out your journal and ask yourself the question: 

What do I get out of shopping? 

Write it all down. Once we know consciously what shopping does for us, we can then ask: 

What is shopping doing to me? 

Write it all down. Consciously making the link between the pleasure we get from shopping AND the pain that comes later is important.

Often these parts of ourselves don’t talk to each other, so in the moment, we don’t associate shopping with the pain of violating our own self-trust.

If we have decided that honoring our commitment to ourselves to practice Financial Wellness is our highest value, then we want to make sure our “shopping self” and our “honoring my commitment to myself self” can see and hear each other. Writing your answers to these questions is one way to do this.

Register for my free class, Empowered Peace: Women+’s 4-Step Path to Financial Freedom.

 Inside, I share with you

  •  The 4 steps I take women+ through to practice intentional financial wellness
  • Plus, learn 6 myths that keep women+ from pursuing Financial Wellness
  • Why almost every financial situation IS fixable with the right strategy in place
  • How to make lasting financial changes and sustain Financial Wellness over time
Why Anti-Diet Dietitians Are A “Thing”

Why Anti-Diet Dietitians Are A “Thing”

There are many reasons women seek dietitian services.

Increasingly, dietitians are embracing an “anti-diet approach.” These dietitians are moving away from a focus on weight loss and  thinness as an ideal, or even healthy, goal.

If this surprises you, you can thank Diet Culture.

What is Diet Culture?

Anti-diet dietitian and author, Christy Harrison, explains:

“[Diet culture] is Western society’s toxic system of beliefs that: Worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue, Promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, demonizes certain foods while elevating others, and oppresses people who don’t match up with its supposed picture of “health.” 

Diet culture can show up in many ways:

  • following food rules
  • not eating gluten (without having celiac disease)
  • not eating after a certain time of day
  • completely cutting out sugar
  • making fat people pay for two seats on an airplane
  • having to track down special clothing stores in order to find your size
  • labeling foods “guilt-free” or “sinful.”

Our culture’s deeply held belief that thinness and dieting are “healthy” is not based in science, but instead by the profound influence of diet culture in every aspect of our lives, even, and especially, our doctors’ offices. Diet culture results in so many of us disconnecting from our natural biological processes and even shames us for having them!

What is an anti-diet dietitian?

Anti-diet dietitians take an approach that recognizes that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Healthy nutrition means different things for different people and a dietitian can be instrumental in helping a person on their healing and wellness journey. An anti-diet dietitian is a dietitian, educated and trained, licensed and registered, but without a foundational belief that the primary goal of nutrition counseling is “successful dieting.”

The primary goal is to help clients:
  • reconnect with their awareness of their body’s biological signals for food
  • move past fear of food and various eating behaviors
  • cultivate nourishing, healthy behaviors around eating, movement, and well-being
  • without a primary focus on weight

For many people, after years or decades immersed in the beliefs of diet culture, this change can be surprisingly challenging. Anti-diet dietitians are here to help!

To learn more, or to find an anti-diet dietitian for yourself, check out the providers here.

Want to Make Changes? Instead of Browbeating Yourself, Do This…

Want to Make Changes? Instead of Browbeating Yourself, Do This…

Many of us where raised with guilt and shame as tactics for getting us to give adults the behavior they wanted from us.

No wonder I see so many people who speak so harshly to themselves in an effort to motivate themselves to change!

This is the thing: Shame and guilt don’t work.

Shame and guilt cause us to feel unsafe and when we feel unsafe we go into defensive states, like fight, flight, or freeze. In fight/flight/freeze, we “batten down the hatches” and try to protect ourselves. Hardly a state for expansive growth, learning, and healing.

We don’t have to talk to ourselves using the same ineffective and hurtful strategies of our childhoods. We can be to ourselves the parents we needed, right now, today.

Here are some effective ways to kindly motivate yourself:
  1. Decide to see yourself with compassion and patience.
  2. Validate the “Ungh, I don’t wanna” feeling.
  3. Show yourself an image of how you will feel after you do the thing.
  4. Speak kindly to yourself inside.

Here are some examples:

“Oh, I know you want to keep scrolling. Of course you do. We worked hard all day and these videos are funny. And, you deserve to get good sleep and take a break from the phone. Let’s put on a sleep meditation instead.”

“Oop! We just blew off taking our medication/supplements this morning. Come on, let’s go back and get that done. We will feel better knowing we did that.”

“Of course you don’t feel like getting up to brush our teeth. We are tired. And, remember that we committed to taking care of our teeth. It will build our self-trust if we do this. Come on, you can do it.”

It may feel uncomfortable or even really silly at first, but there is a part of all of us that just wants kindness and compassion rather than the emotional abuse that our inner critic likes to dole out.

In time, it will feel natural, you will trust yourself more, and you might even find that you are feeling more patient and compassionate with others.


Wellness Tip:

Don’t try to argue with your inner critic, or try to get her to change her tune.

She won’t.

It’s not her job.

She’s just trying to protect you in the way that she knows how.

Instead, let her know, “hey, I’ve heard what you have to say. Thank you for trying to help. Just for a moment, I’d like to hear from this other voice.”

Then, see if you get a little reprieve from the harsh criticism.