Finance 25 July 2019
Photo Credit: www.thebalance.com
The human mind and money have an overly complex relationship.
A cause of shame, anxiety, depression, and oftentimes thought as a source of happiness, people have long associated money with emotions. And this is why people seldom handle their personal finances logically.
Despite it being in their best interest, people don't save money. People spend too much out of excitement or too little out of guilt. This is especially true for people with a limited budget. Studies show that people with constrained personal finances invest their emotions heavily with money.
So with that in mind, here are the key concepts you have to understand in order to have a healthy relationship with money:
Understand your finances
Having a healthy relationship with anything entails having a deep understanding about it. A good grip on the limits and potentials of your personal finances can help manage your expectations and rationalize how you see money. A provocative think piece published on the New York Times highlights how people feel happier with cash on hand rather than investing that cash, even if the latter makes much more long-term sense.
In many contexts, talking about finances is still taboo. At work, people don't talk about remuneration. In gatherings, discussions around debt rarely come up. And even at home, any dialog on managing money almost always end up emotionally charged. To attain financial literacy, you have to pierce this veil and have a grounded approach on managing debt, expenses, and savings.
Understand the game
Contrary to what you might think, consumers aren't that savvy. Marketers around the world have always tapped into the fact that emotions are the greatest drivers of consumption. People buy things when it has an emotional presence or relevance.
Knowing the pain points of being a consumer and how marketing utilizes your emotions to target your wallet are the best ways to get ahead. Tricks like making the medium sized drink almost as expensive as the large one to point you in that direction is an old one that remains effective to this day.
An online survey commissioned by the housing charity Shelter found that families who rent suffer from anxiety. Especially in highly coveted markets, you need to be aware of certain unsaid rules that can make survival difficult for the uninitiated. For instance, in one of Yoreevo's guides to NYC real estate, the site reveals how co-op square footage in the city is almost always overstated. This makes it very hard to compare units based on stated size alone.
These are just some of the reasons why the vicious cycle of anxiety, depression, and guilt in spending is also fueled by consumerism. But you can do something about it. Having a healthy relationship with spending means discerning your needs and wants and making sound financial decisions from that discernment.
Furthermore, unhealthy notions of your financial capacity or situation may even lead to a decreased capacity to make money. Some CEOs in this interview think they won't get funding if VCs uncover that they have mood disorders or are stressed psychologically.
The most relevant emotions related to money are guilt, shame, fear, and envy. Being more conscious of when and how these feelings come up when you spend, save or invest will help you to be more mindful with money.
Mint recommends you forgive yourself when you miss a credit card bill or overspend. Beating yourself up over financial mistakes can end with you sinking even deeper into the cycle of guilt and shame.
This should go without saying: never make major financial decisions when you're emotional or in a vulnerable state. But it's easier said than done. Creating powerful habits or rituals like taking a jog or eating a meal first before deciding can aid in disengaging from emotional decision making.
A deep understanding of yourself is key in having a level-headed approach to managing or even growing your finances. Personal finance is really one of those fields where emotion fails and logic thrives.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."