Many people never go a day without a voice in their head doubting their choices, abilities, or behavior. Some people hear that same negative self-talk in their head when it comes to money or finances. Do you ever feel like the words in your mind about saving or spending or investing are a negative nag? A glass-half-full observer in your mind who never seems to let up? If that voice is a part of your day have you considered if critical, negative self-talk is robbing you of a better financial future?
And if you are fortunate enough to not struggle with negative thoughts about money, what if you’re married to someone who battles the inner critic?
At our house, I (Scott) am the one who worries and has negative self-talk in our relationship. Bethany doesn’t seem to hear the same critical thoughts in her head as I do.
My Money Personalities are Spender / Security Seeker. So my Secondary Money Personality, Security Seeker, loves a good plan and hates surprises. When I start worrying about everything going right it sets the stage for the inner critic to start shouting.
Bethany and I encounter a lot of people with negative self-talk about money. When we speak to large groups several people afterwards end up saying something like, “I’m so bad with money. I don’t know anything about money. I’m a loser when it comes to money. I don’t have a finance degree. We’ve made so many mistakes we will never get money right.”
A glass-half full attitude is not a great place to start to improve your finances or your marriage. Not only are you putting pressure on yourself, but you can project that negativity onto someone else which erodes your relationship. When you aren’t working together on your finances you lose ground. Imagine rowing a boat by yourself or having someone else at the oars with you making your progress go twice as fast.
So negative money talk banging around inside your head can ruin your ability to head in the right direction with your relationship and your money.
Try to avoid this destructive, negative self-talk with these three helpful tips:
1. Know what negative self-talk is.
Negative self-talk is the voice in your head that is critical, doubts you, and tells you aren’t good enough. That voice can say hurtful things to yourself that you would never say to anyone else.
You have negative self-talk about money if this sounds familiar:
- Someone close to you has shamed you because you like to spend money.
- A parent teased you about money burning a hole in your pocket.
- If you feel like you are trying to present a lifestyle you can’t afford.
- Do you ever put yourself down and tell yourself you are an idiot when it comes to money?
The inner critic is very harmful. More and more negative reinforcement takes away from your ability to prosper. Just because someone else didn’t say it doesn’t mean it’s not destructive.
2. Watch for it.
In the Middle Ages they built tall towers to spot an enemy approaching their camp. It’s time for you to build a tall tower. Start to listen for your inner critic. Take note of what it sounds like. Determine when it is most likely to start blasting.
For me, it’s at the gym. I feel like no matter how much time I put in or how hard I work every dude in the place looks beefier than me. My inner critic starts firing off negative self-talk about my lack of progress and once it starts in on my workout, my finances and other areas of my life usually aren’t far behind.
Psychology Today says, “The critic is a voice that you have internalized based on outside influences and learning such as other people’s criticism, expectations, or standards.” They suggest giving the critic a name so you can separate it from your identity and see it as truly separate from you.
Try these exercise to watch for an inner critic:
- Keep an “Inner Critic” log on your phone (i.e. IC log) jot down what it says.
- Notice where you are when it says the most, i.e. gym, certain relationships, tough money situations
- Journal your thoughts. Long hand or a note in your phone.
- Adjust your surroundings to avoid situations and places that encourage your critic.
Your inner critic is the villain in your movie, alert the castle when you see him approaching.
3. Replace the negative with the positive.
Once you’ve spotted the inner critic, take steps to replace that unwelcome voice with positive thinking.
Our motto is Make it happen! We’ve repeated that to each other, our readers and listeners daily for years and years. We chose it to remind you and ourselves that we have a choice each day to be positive and move forward in our lives.
When you hear your inner critic, talk back to it (maybe not out loud in your cubicle or in line at the grocery store). Experts say when you talk back to it; you take away its power.
So next time when you’re paying your bills and you see the balance on the credit card bill. Recognize the potential for negative self-talk, telling yourself you will never get out of debt. Then make the choice to focus on the positive and tell yourself, “Yes, the balance is large, but we paid some towards the balance so it won’t always be like this. We can do this. It is just money. We can get through this, bit by bit.”
Remember to realize you have choice in the matter.
Grow your best friend in your mind. Turn your critic into your biggest fan. What if you had a best friend who stood up to the bully – like a classic movie throw down in the high school cafeteria where the nice guy wins and the bully leaves the building and changes his ways?
I am excited to take this week and work at silencing my inner critic. Those of us with Security Seeker Money Personalities beat ourselves up a lot with negative money self-talk because the level of security we’d like never really seems attainable. Like we can’t be secure enough.
Changing our thought process will take some effort and some attention, but think of the payoff in the future.
Also, if you are married to someone whom you suspect has a negative self-talk don’t judge him or her for it; be their biggest fan and share this article with them. Share it in love to help them make a change and know they are supported.
Negative self-talk impacts your ability to become healthier and wealthier. So decide to stop it now.
Fill the negative self-talk with positive. I promise I will work on it (even at the gym).
If you don’t yet know your two Money Personalities, take our free, online, confidential Money Personality Assessment.
You can do it. Make it happen!
Scott & Bethany Palmer
The Money Couple