If you’re worried about your finances or struggling to get by, it’s easy to think that the root of your problem is that you simply don’t have enough money. You can’t help but think, “If only I had more money then I could…” You can fill in the blank.

And you’re not alone. Most people think their money problems come from not having enough. But the truth is, the core cause of most people’s ongoing financial trouble is an unhealthy relationship with money.

While anyone can have a situational financial problem due to extenuating circumstances, like a job loss, a failed business, a medical condition, some people’s money issues crop up over and over again. Those ongoing financial challenges are not merely situational but reflect a destructive pattern in one’s relationships with money.

In his book The Secret Language of Money, my friend and colleague David Krueger describes our relationship with money as the “longest-running relationship in our life.” Even before you’re born, your parents’ financial circumstances and attitudes influenced your first experiences of the world, from the kind of prenatal care your mother received to what resources, education and opportunities were available to you as you grew. Your children will be influenced by whatever you teach them, intentionally or unintentionally, about money. And even after you die, your estate or lack thereof will live on.

While your relationship with money may not be the most important relationship of your life, it has an undeniable impact on all other aspects of your life, especially on those people and things you hold most dear.

But the good news is, no matter what your current relationship with money is today, there are proven steps you can take to heal and improve that relationship and create a future of financial stability and well-being.

Assess Where You Are Now and Where You Want to Go

The first steps on your path to a healthy relationship with money require nothing more than awareness and self-reflection:

  1. Identify your situation.
  2. Define what you’d like to accomplish.
  3. Become conscious of and connected to your money.

Let’s focus on the first of these three steps.

Identify Your Situation

In a private journal, answer the following 3 questions. Be sure to take as much time as you need to answer them thoroughly.

  1. “What’s not working in my relationship with money?”
    • List everything that comes up for you. For instance, are you always worried about money? Do you come up short all the time? Do you feel out of control with your spending? Write down everything that comes to you.
  2.  “What emotional and psychological consequences am I experiencing?”
    • Are you unable to sleep because you’re worried about money? Are you fighting with your loved ones? Do money troubles prevent you from enjoying your life?
  3. “Which of the symptoms of financial dis-ease have I exhibited?”
    • Have you been ignoring the reality of your financial circumstances, pretending that they will somehow, magically get better? Have you lost control of your spending and find yourself making purchases you can’t afford?

By answering these questions honestly and thoroughly, you’ve made the first step to healing your relationship with money. In subsequent articles, we will cover the remaining two steps: define what you’d like to accomplish and become conscious of and connected to your money.

Until then, if you’d like more information and support on how you can develop a healthy relationship with money, I invite you to read my book, Financial Recovery: Developing a Healthy Relationship With Money (see side bar for link). Or visit http://www.FinancialRecovery.com to learn more about the Financial Recovery Institute’s Training programs or individual counseling with Karen McCall.

June 19th, 2012 by Karen McCall