No matter how much experience you have in managing your finances – be it decades or days – one minor psychological challenge I see when dealing with money is low self-esteem. Psychological research suggests that people with high self-esteem focus on growth and improvement, while people with low self-esteem focus on not making mistakes in life. The biggest challenge for most when it comes to managing money is finding ways to increase self-esteem so that growth and improvement can take place.
This is where self-compassion comes in. Self-compassion is the act of being less critical of yourself and potential shortcomings. It's also a form of optimism that takes shape by giving yourself permission to relax a little. In fact, I would argue that self-compassion is not only a key skill for financial improvement, but also for the overall quality of life. Here are five strategies for practicing self-compassion today:
# 1 Positive affirmations every day
Self-promotion can go a long way towards increasing self-esteem. However, sometimes positive affirmations can backfire for people with low self-esteem. That is why it is important to build yourself up in a realistic and authentic way. Instead of waking up and saying to yourself, "I'm going to be a millionaire," try something more like, "I'm resilient and will get through tough financial times."
Pro tip: Write your endorsement on a piece of paper and stick it on your bathroom mirror. You can read it to yourself as you prepare for the day.
# 2 Make a list of past financial achievements
The best way to challenge the negative voice in your head is to use facts to refute your beliefs. Past financial successes are proof that you have what it takes to be financially successful. Don't worry so much about the number of achievements, and whatever you do, don't give credit to anyone for your achievements. Even if someone helped you financially, YOU were the one asking for help. YOU were the one motivated to make the change. Do not forget that.
Pro tip: Document your successes in a financial journal or diary. Check out your achievement list from time to time as a reminder of your success and to build self-esteem quickly.
# 3 Be your best friend
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to be kind to friends when they're feeling bad or having a bad day? It is possible to do the same for ourselves. If you're like me you can make the initial mistake of thinking that kindness is forcing you to lose your edge, but it's just the opposite! Remember, high self-esteem is associated with growth … and growth is success. Believe it or not, people who are successful have the ability to recover faster after a setback because they are not that tough on themselves.
Pro tip: Use a financial journal or journal to find out about any financial problem you've encountered. Now pretend you are one of your best friends and write down the advice you think you would give.
# 4 Seek advice and greet compliments
One of the underlying problems with financial management is a lack of feedback. Think about other areas of life: work, school, sports, hobbies, and relationships. What they all have in common are mentors! Managers, teachers, trainers, experts and partners are often there for us to give feedback and sometimes to praise us when we are doing well. With money management, however, most of us don't have an expert or coach to get feedback on our performance. I strongly recommend paying at least one financial advisory session to find out what is good for you. Be open to feedback on opportunities for improvement, but be aware of and appreciate compliments about what you've achieved so far.
Pro tip: I would recommend hiring a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) who is more interested in how you organize your money. If a CFP® is not within your budget, talk to a trusted friend or family member about your high-level financial goals and progress made to date (there is no need to discuss specific numbers if you are uncomfortable).
# 5 Don't let your wealth define your real worth
If you are struggling with low self-esteem, I warn you as you look at your wealth. I am not saying you live in ignorance, but I am saying that it is extremely unfair to have a single number define who you are. At Mint, we don't mean to make you see the wealthy number and feel worthless. The real intent is to use your assets as a starting point for creating financial improvement goals. However, if you see it out of context, it can harm your ego and counter your goal of improving self-esteem. To counter this feeling, I recommend writing down a list of qualities that will help you manage your finances well.
Pro Tip: Look for clues in other areas of your life that have helped you save and make money. Maybe it is that you are really organized so that you pay your bills on time, or that you are a good cook so that you don't eat out a lot, which will help you save money.
When you are struggling with low self-esteem, know that you are not alone. Try these five strategies and let me know if you notice any difference in your ability to be more self-compassionate.
Jackie Porter (6 posts)
Jackie Porter, M.S. is a behavioral scientist at Intuit and previously authored Intuit's Mint and Turbo products. She earns her PsyD in psychology and is a health and fitness fanatic.