There are times when I have to take a breath, look at myself in the mirror and marvel at how far I’ve come.
This isn’t ego, it’s just that there was a time in my life when the mere thought of checking my bank account would bring me close to tears and crippled with anxiety.
I couldn’t discuss money openly and freely the way I do now.
Going to the bank meant spending a few minutes dealing with panic attacks.
I had a very real fear of checking my bank account and seeing my bank balance.
And this fear left me feeling ashamed.
So to motivate myself, I’d spend hours telling myself how stupid or pathetic I was and how I had to just get over it.
trapped in a vicious cycle of debt
This self-talk never worked, in fact it seemed to make everything worse, but I didn’t know how to stop feeling scared of my own bank account and instead developed a vicious cycle where I'd:
i. spend hours mastering the courage to check my bank account
ii. check my account and learn that I had less money than expected in the account
iii. resort to self-criticism about how stupid I was and how bad I was with money
iv. feel shame about my stupidity
v. panic that I’d never have enough money and would always be in debt
vi. see my life as hopeless and contemplate ending my life
It took me years to finally break out of this cycle and get to the point I’m at today – where checking my account is no longer an emotionally charged act.
So how do you break the cycle?
I identified when I was avoiding my finances and my bank account.
Signs that you’re avoiding your finances
- You have no clue what your bank balance is at any given time
- You swipe for everything and never withdraw money. On a subconscious level you know that withdrawing money from the bank means having to see your balance, so swiping is a great avoidance technique.
- You procrastinate about opening your mail from the bank and the thought of seeing your bank statement makes you cringe
- You have no budget and have no idea what your expenses are, who you owe money to and/or how much you owe them
- You avoid all discussions about money and feel like physically running away whenever you think about money
Benefits of giving into the fear of your bank account
The one thing I learned from coaching people about money is that we only engage in a behavior if there’s something in it for us.
Every behavior has some sort of pay off. This is true of avoidance behavior as well.
We avoid our finances to protect ourselves from feeling anxious and overwhelmed about money.
The underlying belief is that if we spend money and don’t see our bank balance then we won’t have to face the fact that money is leaving our bank account and we won’t feel anxious.
This logic makes sense to your subconscious mind, whose main role is to protect you.
When we’re anxious, our stress levels go up and our subconscious mind registers this as dangerous and automatically tries to protect us by sending our conscious mind a fight or flight message.
When we avoid our finances, we’re reacting to the flight message.
Every time we practice avoidance behavior, the amygdala in the brain, is activated, which only increases our anxiety and rewires our brain to react with fear towards money.
Eventually this total cluelessness about your financial state results in bad financial decisions and financial mismanagement.
How to Get Over the Fear of Checking Your Bank Account
The only way to overcome any fear is to face it.
So the only way to stop being scared of your bank account is to actually start looking at your bank account and sitting with the fear that comes up as you engage in this action.
Budgets helped me get out of debt. The minute I started budgeting, I started seeing exactly where my money was going, which helped me feel empowered and drastically lowered my anxiety levels.
Budgeting also helped me see what my financial weaknesses were and because numbers don’t lie, I could start being creative in how I allocated funds and used money to turn my finances around.
Make budgets your best friend.
2. Start buying everything in cash
When we buy everything cash we get to see ourselves use actual money, which makes us aware that we’re actually spending money and we’re also aware of how much money we took out of our account and how much we left in there.
3. Check your bank account(s) every evening
Being able to see your bank account everyday will help you face your fears and also keep you on top of your finances. I suggest spending 5 minutes a day looking at your transaction history and comparing it to your budget and see where you’re falling short.
4. Visualize money sitting in your account
I used to have a hard time just letting money sit in my account. As soon as I had money in my account, I became a woman possessed – I had to spend that money on something, which added to the fear of my bank balance even more.
Using visualization and the spirit of money meditations, I was able to manage my emotions and allow money to start sitting in my bank account.
The mind can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination, so visualizing money in your account will automatically bring up the uncomfortable feelings of having money in your account.
Sit with all these feelings and just observe them. The more you do this, the more you train the amygdala to stop running from uncomfortable situations about money and the easier it becomes to stop reacting emotionally to money.
If we want to change our finances we have to learn how to utilize the money we have right now and to do that we have to know what’s in our bank accounts.
We have to get over the fear of checking our bank balance because as the saying goes – what you resist, persists.
How has your fear of checking your bank balance affected your finances? Let me know in the comments section below!