Why can debt/financial trouble cause a person to feel shame?
In our culture, one of the ways we value ourselves, and experience a sense of worth, is through money. We spent a lot of time in our culture talking about wealth and wealth acquisition. We’re told that we should feel better about ourselves when we have a lot of money, and feel worse about ourselves when we don’t.
So, if we come across hard financial times, sometimes of our own doing, and sometimes as a result of unforeseeable outside circumstances, we tend to send a humiliating message to ourselves (“How could you let this happen?!”) and then create a sense of shame (“There must be something wrong with me.”).
We ask ourselves, what’s wrong with me that I’m not making more money? We state, I should have known better. Implicitly, we tell ourselves that we are not enough, and that something must be wrong with us. And, worst of all, we believe ourselves.
During these times, what’s most important is to remain compassionate toward ourselves.
We can also speak kindly and compassionately to that sad and scared part of us, the part that feels we aren’t enough because some financial failure hit.
In addition to doing that for ourselves, it would be wonderful if we could reach to others at these times and get their care and their support and their understanding for the hard times that are here. It’s always best to have someone to hold us, and it’s wonderful when that someone can be both ourselves and someone else.