“Have you ever had to break your family's rules? Today, I'm breaking mine, around money, secrecy and shame. In 2006, on my brother Keith's 40th birthday, he called. "Tam, I'm in dire straits. I wouldn't ask unless I had to. Can I borrow 7,500 dollars?" This wasn't the first time he needed quick cash, but this time, his voice frightened me. I had never heard him so beaten down and shameful, and it was on his 40th birthday. After a few basic questions that we would all ask, I agreed to loan him the money, but under one condition: that as the financial professional in the family, I wanted to meet with him and his wife to see what was really happening……Weeks later, we met at the local Starbucks, and I started right in with the tough-love budget conversation……Quickly, my brother and his wife went into a fearsome blame game, and it got messy. I vacillated between therapist and pissed-off sister. I wanted them to be better than this……Two months went by when I received a call……Keith committed suicide……”
Tammy Lally tells this heart wrenching story about her family in a TED Talk in August, 2018. Quite frankly, she tells this tough story best, with truth, love, and courage.
Money shame is intensely personal and deeply painful. It feels as if everyone can see your report card with all Fs. It is mental and spiritual poverty when you are rich.
If I could break that age-old unwritten family rule and air out some dirty laundry, I would tell about my grandfather, a soldier that who didn’t want to run the family business. And my dad who was good at running that business but he really liked coaching. Or how my own business failures have crushed me at times. My hope would be that you would see everyone has money failures and shame, that it tends to run deep, and is passed from generation to generation.
The cycle moves from failure to shame to a facade. The façade of a wall of success we build to demonstrate to everyone how great we are. This facade is our comfort and our fortress, that we defend with all of our power. We hide behind this wall in fear and shame, paralyzing ourselves. Worse, we teach this to our children because they also must participate in the façade for that wall to hold. This warps their ideas about money, failure, and shame. Therefore, they continue the cycle.
Experiences shape our lives. Unmet expectations lead to fear and a scarcity mentality, just like a loving and safe home creates stability. But let’s be honest, life is not lived in the extremes. We can have a loving and stable home, but make one bad decision and set a form of this cycle into motion.
Here is some news for you: most people feel this way and nearly all keep it inside. The most successful among us wonder if we are good enough. The biggest failures get lost, never to try again. However, most of us fall somewhere in the middle, with a seemingly average job, average house, and average life, ashamed of the average.
But your life does not have to be this way. Nothing about you is average! We are all uniquely made in God’s own image and are not meant to be failures nor drag shame around with us. We want you to break out of this shame cycle.
So here are a few questions for you:
Does your net worth define your self-worth?
Do you still carry the shame of past failures?
If you could change anything financially what would you change?
What’s stopping you?
Think about it…
This blog is an excerpt from a book that the team at Sound Financial is in the process of writing, “The Real Price of Your Dreams, the story of money.” Look for it soon.