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Is Money Your Jailer? 4 Steps To Getting Out Of Jail

cash photoIf you’ve ever experienced abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, physical, mental), most likely you view money like you view life: as a perpetrator.

(You can read more about viewing life through abuse-colored glasses in my article here.)

The effects of abuse are pervasive. Even if the abuse ended decades ago, it can still feel like you’re living in a cage, a prison cell. Only now, money is the perpetrator, the jailer.

  • You may struggle with anxiety or depression and money has become a source of your angst.
  • You may have experienced financial abuse growing up and think it’s normal to feel helpless and powerless financially.
  • You may struggle to create the life that you really desire yet it seems like it’s money’s fault that you’re not. You’re constantly saying, “I can’t afford it,” and “If only I had the money for that…”
  • You may also have the money you require but struggle with the fear, “I don’t have enough,” or expect some future disaster that will require all your money.

But the truth is, your point of view creates your reality. So if you view money as something that is dedicated to harming and torturing you, how can you have an enjoyable experience with it?

In other words: Money is not a perpetrator. Money is not your jailer. It’s not money’s fault that your life and cash flows are what they are.

It’s also not your fault. It’s just that if you continue to allow the past abuse to twist and taint the way you view life now, especially money, you will continue to struggle with it.

The good news is, you’re not alone and there is a way to change this. Most of the thousands of clients that I’ve worked with had some form of money struggle. Like them, you may have tried lots of things to change this: budgeting, spending less, saving more, but none of it worked. Why not?

Because no strategy will work until you change your perception of money.

So how do you change your perception of money? How do you get out of the anxiety and depression, the sense of helplessness and powerlessness with money?

Use these 4 steps to get out of jail and create a new relationship with money.

Step 1: Take Inventory

Write down all your points of views about money. (You can use “Money is…” as a prompt and fill in the blank.)

  • Money is: ______________________________
  • Money is: ______________________________
  • Money is: ______________________________
  • Money is: ______________________________
  • Money is: ______________________________

What are the sensations you notice in your body with these points of view?

Step 2: Review Your Points Of Views

How many of these points of views carry negative judgments? A little or a lot? Notice this. Please let go of any judgments about your judgments! The more neutral you can be in Step 2, the greater chance you have of getting free of these points of views.

These points of views have driven your perceptions of money. They have thus created your reality with money. Once you acknowledge this you can begin to change it.

Step 3: Start A Different Conversation With Money

Imagine that money is a distant relative who you’ve been secretly (or not so secretly) hating and berating with all your judgments. The best way to start a new kind of conversation with this distant relative? Apologize.

So in Step 3 I invite you to apologize to money. This is a conversation you can have silently, out loud, or you may write it out. I know, you may feel a little ridiculous doing this, yet how ridiculous is it that we treat money like our perpetrator and our jailer? Exactly. Would you now be willing to be a little more ridiculous to change this pattern?

Let me get you started: “Hi money. I’m sorry I’ve treated you so poorly. I’m sorry I told you I hate you and I wish I never had to have anything to do with you. I see now that you are not my perpetrator. You are not dedicated to torturing me.”

What else would you add to this?

Step 4: Change Your Points Of View About Money

Consider what kind of relationship you would like to have with money now. What if money could be your playmate? How fun would that be?

Write down all the ways you would like to view money:

  • Money is: ______________________________
  • Money is: ______________________________
  • Money is: ______________________________
  • Money is: ______________________________
  • Money is: ______________________________

What are the sensations you notice in your body with these points of view? Do you notice more space? More ease?

It takes a lot of courage to see through the points of view you’ve had about money. It also takes a lot of vulnerability to open up to a new kind of conversation with money. In apologizing to money, you’re also apologizing to yourself for the ways you’ve carried on the old pattern of abuse in your life. Would you be willing to forgive yourself for this? You did the best you could. Now, using these 4 steps you are on the path to turning money into your friend and ally.


If you liked this article, you may also like: Money and Abuse



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You can find more information from Dr. Lisa Cooney on her site DrLisaCooney.com or find her on Facebook or on Twitter @DrLisaCooney!

Photo by 401(K) 2013

Is Money Your Jailer? 4 Steps To Getting Out Of Jail

Dr. Lisa Cooney

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APA Reference
Cooney, D. (2016). Is Money Your Jailer? 4 Steps To Getting Out Of Jail. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 20, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/roar/2016/07/is-money-your-jailer-4-steps-to-getting-out-of-jail/


Last updated: 1 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Jul 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.