What are The 7 Elements of Money Detox? Read to learn about all 7 elements, and how you can heal from money shame – for good!
Money Detox is my signature process to heal from money shame. It’s also the name of my book, which covers The 7 Elements of Money Detox in even more depth. All 7 elements are important for taking back control of your life, no matter where you are in your money journey.
In summary, these are the 7 elements of Money Detox:
- Own your money story
- Recognize your spiritual crisis
- Uncover your shame
- Identify your money beliefs
- Discover your worth
- Make forgiveness a daily practice
- Live from a circle of money blessings
Below we will explore the elements of Money Detox in more detail, so you can begin to understand how they work together to eradicate money shame. But first, some commentary on the times because they are more relevant than ever to money, personal finance, and the economy:
Working through The 7 Elements of Money Detox is a great New Year’s resolution.
January is the time everyone starts thinking about resolutions and what they can and should do better. So far, 2021 has not been the huge turnaround many of us hoped for. The things we are waiting for are still out of grasp. While we can’t rush the effort to vaccinate America or fix political unrest, it can be grounding to make positive progress at home with the things we can control.
We all have the power to move the needle on our relationship with money. And to be honest, improving our finances can have a bigger impact on our personal success than anything going on in the outside world. Concentrating on what we can control also helps manage our anxiety.
As a money coach, many people come to me searching for the silver bullet. How do I clean up my money this year? I’m ready to begin. Show me what to do.
Believe it or not, your money story is fully within your control. The key is to harness the power of The 7 Elements of Money Detox.
It is always within your reach to change the role that money plays in your life. But just like getting physically healthy, it takes time and consistent work. And it is worthwhile. I recommend you work through steps I’ve laid out that helped me, personally, and hundreds of my clients heal their relationship with money.
You may already know in your head how to fix your spending problems. It’s easy to access personal finance information on saving money, canceling extras, bringing in more income where you can. And this is all helpful information.
The thing with making real changes to your spending is that it isn’t all conscious work. Only about 10% of your mind is operating from conscious thought.
Are you embarrassed about your financial situation?
When I speak to clients, over and over I find that they are embarrassed. They feel shame for not being able to control their spending, or shame for hoarding their money. They are experiencing a spiritual crisis masquerading as a money problem. It is mentally exhausting to will-power your way through behavior that goes against your core beliefs.
I’m not saying that you believe that saving and cutting back can’t change your financial outcome. Rationally, you understand the math.
What I mean is that something in your mind is telling you that you cannot do it because of who you are. You have failed in the past. Your family has a tradition of mental illness or wasting money. Your social status requires that you maintain a certain standard of living. You don’t feel like you are a good provider. Whatever it is you tell yourself that undermines your progress.
Healing from money shame is not just a matter of “financial math” – it’s a psychological and spiritual journey.
Financial freedom, rather, should address the psychological and spiritual obstacles that are holding you in this cycle.
I found that even though I knew a lot about money twenty years ago, I struggled to get my spending under control. It wasn’t because I didn’t understand how to budget. It was because I was concentrating only on what I was spending and ignoring why I did it.
After fixing my own money relationship and working as a money coach, I created a series of elements that address the challenges I have seen my clients struggle with over and over.
These seven elements bear some similarity to an addiction program because the pattern of out-of-control spending or hoarding money is not unlike other dependencies. Addiction to alcohol is not about your love of drinking. It’s driven by a deeper longing.
It’s the same with spending. We don’t abuse money only out of habit or because we don’t have enough things. It stems from trying to cover up or fill up something else going on in our lives. We are using it to numb and distract us from our painful reality.
You can find more detail about these elements of self-discovery in my book, Money Detox. They aren’t strictly sequential, but rather fluid and interconnected. Sometimes you will find it helpful to go back and revisit earlier parts of your journey.
Here is a snapshot of what to expect:
Step 1. Own your money story
This is the first and arguably most important element of the Money Detox journey. Even when I had my drinking under control and had worked through my sadness after losing my brother Keith, I still felt lonely and empty. I felt responsible for the way I handled our last meeting when he had reached out for help. What I thought was tough love at the time backfired in the worst way possible.
At his funeral, I was reminded of how prevalent shame, codependency, mental illness, and alcoholism were in my family. Instead of providing empathy from our crazy, I had tried to counteract the madness with cold, practical advice. I knew I shared a lot of the same traumas from our upbringing that weighed so heavily on Keith. To start new, I had to accept the old and come to terms with it.
This first step is best initiated on your own. I offer some guiding questions in my book, but the idea is to go back in time. Jog your memory to find out why you believe the things about money that you do.
Step 2. Recognize your spiritual crisis.
Recognizing your spiritual crisis is the second element of Money Detox. I used to feel like I could delay dealing with the reality of my spending. I was living way above what was realistic for my income. Put it on a credit card. Someone will rescue me, or I’ll find the money.
Believing in abundance doesn’t equate with reckless spending. I can still recognize in people’s eyes when they are playing what I call the “grocery line of decline.” When you are at the store picking up a few things and you have your fingers crossed that your card won’t be turned down at the register. You are mentally calculating what you will remove from your cart to better your odds of keeping your dignity intact.
In order to break free of our selfishness—and that’s what impatience and playing the victim amount to—you have to make peace with a higher power.
When we feel like we have to control everything, that’s a lot of pressure and ego at work.
When you are able to find your value as a part of the universe, however, you define spirituality, you will see how trying to cheat the system is only weighing you down. Being dishonest about your integrity with money will always come back to bite you.
Instead of facing an emptiness in my life, I was distracting myself with spending and romantic love. I had been living in a constant state of anxiety, and meditation helped me focus and see what actions I needed to adjust my focus.
Step 3. Uncover your Shame
Uncovering your shame is the third element of Money Detox. If you’ve watched my videos or read my stuff, you know how I feel about the importance of money shame. Shame is usually the first thing I notice when people start telling their money story. When you don’t understand its origin and its impact on your actions, it feels like there is something fundamentally wrong with you to make you act as you do with money. We know it doesn’t make sense to spend the way we do. We’ve seen the repercussions in our own families, and yet we allow the cycle to continue. It can go on for generations in a family. But it can be broken in one generation.
Shame can be healthy. It’s the ability to admit you were wrong, to be embarrassed when you hurt others, and to apologize when necessary. But when we start to think there is something fundamentally “less” about ourselves, it can become toxic.
This shame takes root when we feel we are doomed because of some unchangeable personal flaw. When it mingles with our relationship with money, we give money the power and blame ourselves when we lose it or mismanage it. We spend money so that others will be distracted from our shame, and this overcompensating keep us at the mercy of our debtors.
Codependency & Money Shame
There are many ways codependency and money shame become entwined. We may ignore what’s going on with our money. We can use it to control others or attempt to buy their love. You can be in denial while debt piles up.
One thing that makes money shame so tricky is the perception from the outside. If you are an alcoholic, for example, most people agree you should get help. It’s not ok to be showing up to work tipsy.
With money, people may encourage unhealthy behaviors, especially if they are benefitting from them. Your parents may tell you it will look bad if you can’t afford to send your kids to private school. Someone may withhold “love” from you if you threaten to stop supporting them in ways that don’t make sense financially for you anymore.
Facing your debt initially feels much worse than ignoring it. Uncovering your shame is uncomfortable and forces you to address the social and emotional impact that changes could have on the people close to you. Signs that things are getting uncomfortable means we have touched on the circle of money pain.
The money pain cycle as it relates to The 7 Elements of Money Detox
This circle shows the interconnectedness of inherited beliefs, shame, and spending. We placate shame through spending, which makes us feel powerless to control our money.
Your circle may not be exactly like this, but the common thread I see is that once the cycle starts, it’s all you know. You can’t see a path to exit. Fear is the only thing holding you on the ride, but you can’t shake it by treating the spending symptom. You may get one vice under control, but if you haven’t come to terms with your shame, it will just manifest itself in new ways.
Step 4. Identify your money beliefs.
Step four of the Money Detox process is to identify your money beliefs. Many times, the things we fear the most are magnified in our minds. We feel like we have wronged someone so we berate ourselves while that person has already moved on or may not even be aware of the wrong. Our guilty feelings sabotage the relationship.
Shame keeps us from telling our story, but telling the story is the thing that frees us.
Growing up, my mother always pounded into us kids the idea that “if we had more money, everything would be better.” We were a working-class family, and despite my mom’s tumultuous personal life, we had a good safety net of aunts and uncles. We always had enough to get by. But this constant mantra made me think that money made you important and solved all of life’s problems.
Only after you identify the things you believe about money can you question them. Just because these things are bouncing around in your head doesn’t mean they have the power to determine your future.
After much soul-searching and making changes in the way I think about money, my tagline on the Tammy Lally site is “I believe money is not your worth.” I chose this because it serves me better than the narrative I had in my head growing up. It leaves room for grace and acknowledges that people and relationships are important and satisfying. Not money. It doesn’t mean money is bad or that you shouldn’t have money. Only that money doesn’t define a person.
Step 5. Discover your worth
The fifth element of money detox is to discover your worth! Everyone wants love from others, but the way you love yourself will impact your ability to find, give, and accept it.
Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love talks about how we are misdirected when we assign value to things instead of people. Just as money does not define a person’s worth, looking for meaning in possessions always backfires. Those things can’t love us back. They can’t make others love us.
Telling yourself that fate decides your wealth or you are destined to live in a cycle you know makes it easy to feel powerless. When you know your worth, even if you didn’t create your circumstances, you recognize that you have the ability to change things. You seek out new experiences and become curious about the world around you. You see the possibility.
I had many mentors and friends through my young adult years that helped me see how my future could be different from how I grew up. Additionally, I learned about working hard and becoming the type of person that employers want to develop and maintain. Furthermore, I learned that investing in myself gave me more options and grew my confidence to succeed.
Step 6. Make forgiveness a daily practice
Making forgiveness a daily practice is the sixth element of Money Detox. Forgiveness is a hard step for everyone. I have had many people sit across from me at this point in the process and say that this is one step too far. Too much to ask. I know I balked the first time I heard that I had to forgive my parents for reprehensible things they had put me through.
But here is the thing. Holding onto victimhood and anger is bad for you. It is physically detrimental.
I’m not saying you have to be ok with whatever that person did. You don’t have to let them in your life. Furthermore, you don’t have to forget.
You have to face the fact that the person who hurt you is likely hurt. That what they did is not ok, but it does not define you and you will not continue to let it take up space. It can be a long and uncomfortable process.
It took several conversations with my step-father over the course of years for him to ask for my forgiveness and for me to see enough of his past history to empathize with his pain, see the way it was still holding me hostage, and forgive him for his actions.
Then there is asking for forgiveness from people you have hurt. The hardest part is that it’s not only about you. Asking for forgiveness is a gift to someone you have wronged. But you can’t control the outcome of the conversation.
Forgiving yourself is part of the equation too. Whether you are holding onto guilt over relationships or frustrated about the way you have let your spending get out of control, you have to let that anger go. You cannot expect to fix your bank account while constantly berating the person doing the work.
Step 7. Live From a Circle of Money Blessings.
Finally, the last element of Money Detox is to live from a circle of “money blessings.”
You may know the terms scarcity mindset vs abundance mindset. The idea is that if you think there isn’t enough to go around, you are living from a place of scarcity. You hate to pay money out, you worry about getting your next paycheck, you worry about losing money or being taken advantage of.
Abundance means you have a healthier give and take with money. You are happy to spend money because you trust that the cycle will continue and that money will come back to you when it’s your due.
Aligning your values with your spending is the easiest way to be at peace. When you feel you can’t spend or can’t hold onto money, find out why. Being at peace with money means you aren’t anxious about it.
The circle of money blessings is the alternative to the circle of money pain. Once you recognize the role that your past stories, beliefs, and faith play in your actions, you can rewrite your beliefs and your story.
The good news is, once your circle is rewritten, the cycle is again set in motion, this time reinforcing good habits.
The 7 Elements of Money Detox in Summary
In the meantime, here’s something else to consider: In addition to The 7 Elements of Money Detox, one of the most powerful things you can do is share your story with another person. Journaling is a great place to start, but accountability and human connection cannot be underestimated.
If you are looking for a place to connect, I’d love to help you on this journey. I will never judge or shame you for where you are, and I know these elements can work with thoughtful intention. Everyone deserves to lose their anxiety and feel financially confident. It’s not too late to start in 2021, and I’d love to be a part of the path to get you there.