“Dis-ease”? I have come to regard the emotional stress, compromised relationships, and destructive patterns that many people have with money as financial dis-ease. Notice the hyphen. Clearly, if you are experiencing financial stress and anxiety, you are not at ease. Financial dis-ease can erode relationships, limit creativity, tarnish integrity and actually harm your health.

I want to share with you five common symptoms you or someone you love may be experiencing. Why? Because the first step to recovering from this condition is naming it. Do you identify with any of these symptoms of financial dis-ease?

1. Denial

Years ago, I was in complete denial, throwing my bills in a deep, dark wooden bowl, pretending the problem was not growing. Some people have no idea how much money they have, how much they need, or how much they owe. They live in a state of continual vagueness. They don’t know where they are financially and have no idea where they’re heading. They tell themselves that something will come along to make things better.

2. Secrecy and Shame

Many times when we’re struggling with money, we don’t want others to know about it. Perhaps we’re afraid people will judge us for not being able to manage things. Or maybe we don’t want to look as though we’re failing. Sometimes we’re spending in ways that we know are destructive, and we don’t want to admit this to others or ourselves. All of this leads to a vicious cycle of secrecy and shame, with one perpetuating the other. The worst part of living this way is that by trying to hide our problems, we often isolate ourselves from people and resources that could actually be of help. (The more isolated we become, the worse things can get.)

3. Obsession

Many people struggling with money find themselves obsessed with trying to figure out the problem. They run numbers constantly in their heads; they calculate money on the backs of envelopes, trying to figure a way to manage what has become unmanageable. Others spend hours scheming about the things they want to purchase. They’re unable to calm their thoughts, and it disturbs their sleep. No matter what they’re doing, their minds are elsewhere, thinking about money: how they’re going to get it, how they’ll spend it, or how they need to juggle it. Worries about money take up the emotional and mental space that was once devoted to enjoying life and being with loved ones.

4. Lack of Control

When someone has lost control over money behaviors, she may start every day with the best intentions. She promises herself that her spending will change. She goes to Macy’s vowing she’ll buy just one blouse but leaves with four. She intends to pay cash for everything but ends up using her Capital One credit card again and again. Earnest intentions to save money or pay bills on time disappear each month like so much dust in a strong wind. Each day, she makes the promise again: “Today will be different.” But every day ends up just like the one before.

5. Inability to Change Behavior despite Negative Consequences

Faces with the consequences of our money behaviors, we tell ourselves, “Never again.” We never want to have to tell our loved ones that we’re in a financial jam—again. We can’t stand the stress, the worry, the sweat-producing anxiety. We want no more of the shame that results when we have neglected a financial responsibility or broken another promise or told another half-truth. But somehow our old ways of spending, or avoiding, or deceiving, resume despite all the pain we want to avoid. Though we tell ourselves it will be different this time, we soon find ourselves on a worn path—the same path we promised never to walk again.

I share these five “symptoms” not to depress you but to help give voice to some of the pain you may be experiencing.  If you feel these symptoms, know you are not alone. Many are suffering.  View these symptoms as signs that something is not working. Because once you identify what is not working, you can decide to make a change. I realize you may feel embarrassed about your financial circumstances and the behaviors that got you there. But when you become willing to come out of isolation and secrecy, confiding in someone who can help, you will feel enormous relief.

And the most wonderful news of all is that the healthier your relationship with money becomes, the less likely it is that money will distract you from the things that you value most.

The field of “money coaching” is exploding right now, and Financial Recovery Counseling is the most effective form of money coaching around. If you would like a rewarding profession where you can earn what you deserve while you help people heal their own issues around money, spending and earning, please look at our training program. We’ll share the best kept secret— an amazing business opportunity that is also the most important profession of the 21st century.

June 21st, 2011 by Karen McCall