Have you ever had moments in your life when your finances were just going well?
Where you’re just doing well with money?
Even if it’s for a week or a month or a few years?
Everything was just going fine, you were making the money you wanted, you were saving money, things were working according to plan and it looked like you were gonna be just fine.
And then suddenly, BOOM, something happens in your life and from that moment, everything just falls apart.
Out of the blue, there's an emergency, kids need things, cars break down, you’re dipping into your savings and going from saving to creating debt.
Sometimes this is a once off event that causes everything to fall apart for a long time and it just feels like we’re willfully sabotaging.
At other times, our financial sabotage happens at a specific time of the year, around a specific person or when we’re in a specific city or country.
What drives us to financially sabotage?
Our need to sabotage is linked to our need to protect ourselves and is often tied to a financial trauma.
When I was in grade 7, my mom left her job.
Until that point in my life I’d never known financial struggle and had always gotten what I wanted financially.
When my mom left her job, everything changed.
We went from having more than enough to struggling to buy the basics, even food and toiletries.
Money went from being a non issue in my life, to being the biggest issue in my world.
I learned to lie about having money, to feel ashamed about not having money and learned to make do with very little money.
At the same time all this was happening, I started to notice the family dynamics around money.
Money was often the cause of many arguments in my mom’s family.
Family members with money were shunned and were treated like outsiders because they’d dared to be different and decided to make money.
Yet, these same family members, were required to look after the family and help out financially even as they were being shunned.
The underlying message was: to be accepted by the tribe, you have to be broke or poor.
I took on a lot of that programming and became comfortable with having NO money.
It felt unsafe to have money, but it was even more uncomfortable and unsafe to have money, because having money meant losing my tribe.
As an adult my biggest challenge with financial expansion is the fear that I will become an outcast and lose love.
It took a lot of healing and coaching for me to uncover this deep fear.
How this fear played out in my finances was very manic - I’d set a budget (after all I am a finance graduate), spend weeks or months following the budget and then wake up one day freaking out and feeling like the world is going to fall apart if I reach my savings goal and become financially independent.
I’d then get my credit card and blow all my money in one fell swoop.
I lived like this for years.
To the outside world and to myself - it looked like self sabotage and lack of financial discipline, but in reality, it was me trying to keep myself safe, by keeping myself in a financial state that would make me acceptable to my tribe.
We sabotage when we are triggered and have unresolved trauma
Not all financial sabotage plays out the same way mine did.
Sometimes financial sabotage is someone constantly manifesting emergencies or borrowing people money or over committing to activities that require money.
Sometimes this has nothing to do with money. Sometimes we financially sabotage so that we can induce a particular emotional state such as worry or anxiety or frustration because that emotional state is what feels most normal to us.
I was triggered by having money in my bank account and sometimes this can still trigger me, because having zero rands or dollars in my bank was normal but I also needed to feel anxious about money because that was an emotional state I understood.
Feeling relaxed about money, was not normal to me. So I still catch myself creating situations that will make me feel anxious where money is concerned - like setting crazy financial goals and obsessing about them.
When that happens I work on healing my need to feel anxious about money so I can start to adjust my goals and shift my perspective.
Sometimes we sabotage to confirm our unworthiness or other limiting beliefs about ourselves.
For example, if you grew up around family members that criticized you and made you feel “not good enough” then your inner child may sabotage in order to prove this story right, because that’s what they’re comfortable with.
It may not even be about the money, but somehow to your inner child having money and being good with money, contradicts the story that they have about not being good enough.
If we want to start understanding when and why we financially sabotage, we need to start paying close attention to what’s going on around us and how we’re feeling about ourselves and money when things start falling apart.
Click on the video below to learn more:
How do you financially sabotage?
Are you able to see a trend around your money saboteur?
Share your insights in the comments section below.