How to Heal Your Relationship With Money - This American Girl

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“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.” —P.T. Barnum


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We desire it. We can’t get enough of it. We sell our souls for it. We demonize it. We’re afraid of it.

We’re ashamed if we have too little of it, we’re ashamed if we think we want too much of it.

More often than not… we feel controlled by it.


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Ironically most of us believe that money equals freedom, and yet money, more than any other factor seems to be what holds us back from pursuing our dreams. Again and again I get messages and comments from readers explaining that they’d like to quit their jobs, travel the world, and seek a more fulfilling life, but they don’t have the money. (It’s no wonder the most popular post I’ve ever written with millions of views is How to Travel the World When You’ve Got Absolutely No Money.)


People are so afraid of not having a guaranteed source of income (which is an illusion anyway) that they stay in their soul sucking jobs, living their mediocre lives, and looking at photos of palm trees on Instagram. Ok, that was pretty harsh, but I’m trying to make a point here!


Which is… most people are in a totally dysfunctional relationship with money and it affects every aspect of their lives.


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And, I get it.


I was raised to believe that if you follow your passion you will be poor, and if you go for a practical career in business you will be rich and problem free. Sounds familiar?


Consequently, four years post college I found myself working a desk job for a Marketing company, bored out of mind, wondering “is this as good as it gets??” I kept thinking I’d advance, go to grad school, and find something more creative that also paid the bills. Like most people, I expected a company to hand me my dream job or a degree program to give me the answer.


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The craziest part was, even though I made a great income especially for my age, I never seemed to have any money and was constantly overdrawing my account, accruing parking ticket debt, and never saved a dime. PLUS I felt ashamed and embarrassed for making more money than my friends and thought I needed to always pick up the check.


Then life gave me the greatest gift and I got laid off from two jobs in a row. So, I booked a one way flight to Costa Rica, sold my car and all of my possessions, ditched grad school, started traveling all over the world, created this blog, and eventually found a way to finance my unconventional life. The story is of course much more complex than that and you can read more about it in my article Why I Left My Fancy City Life to Become a Globetrotting Gypsy.


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Though as I traveled the world, the money story didn’t go away. Like all of our stories do, it followed me. I juggled these two limiting beliefs: work a hard boring fancy executive job and have money OR follow your passion and do what you love and be poor.


The thing was, traveling on very little money, I became ok with the idea of not having money. Life was so much better and I was so much happier than before, that I actually started to demonize money. Which began another unhealthy cycle.


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I was literally down to my last dollars in Southeast Asia writing freelance articles online, traveled in luxury across Europe on free press trips yet didn’t have any money of my own, obsessed over not being a sell out and refused to receive compensation for my work, and desperately hustled to make enough to get by. It was a rollercoaster and nerve wracking at times, but it was still a lot better than working at a desk job and hating my life.


Nonetheless I was very embarrassed and ashamed, and even felt like a fraud when readers and strangers asked me how I was able to afford to travel. There were so many layers of shame.


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Then finally, two years ago I started healing my relationship with money. Through business coaching (this is my awesome coach), reading books, watching inspirational videos, doing all kinds of exercises and meditations, and perhaps most importantly taking responsibility for my business and my finances, I suddenly found myself with more than enough money, doing exactly what I loved. (Read more about this in my article How to Manifest Miracles and Create the Life of Your Dreams.)


This shift happened within two months. Quite instantly, life became easy, in the flow, and I could just relax offering the gifts of my heart to the world while receiving more than I ever had since leaving my career behind. Let me tell you, money can keep you stuck in a job that you don’t want, but living the life you do want WITH money is so much better than without it.


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Not to say that now I’ve got it all figured out. I’m still learning and growing, finding greater forgiveness, and opening myself to feeling as worthy as the rest of the world already knows I am. Since you’re reading this article, you probably are too.


And we will get there. I know we will.


As a humble work in progress, a woman dedicated to self growth, empowerment, and freedom above all else, here is my guidance on how to heal these unhealthy patterns around money and find your way to receive all of the gifts the universe wants to give you… without selling your soul. These are practices I regularly do myself that come from my own experiences, intuition, and money mentors.


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Recognize Money for What it Really Is


Money, is not a real thing. I mean, yes, it’s paper and coins that you can touch and feel (although even that is becoming less of the case as we buy online and use credit cards) but money itself carries no value. You can’t eat money, wear it (unless you’re really creative), or build a house out of it. Therefore it’s not MONEY that we actually care about, but the things we can buy with money. Money is essentially a symbol, no different than a bag of stones, that helps us exchange value for value. And we all want more value in our lives.


We create value by offering our energy to something, and then we receive value in return that gives us energy. So money is just a way that we circulate our energy in the modern world. With that formula, it makes sense that the way to receive more value aka more money, is to offer more value with the way you use your energy.


Which can be as complicated as starting your own enterprise, and as simple as climbing up a coconut tree. Does that make it less scary?


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Break the Codependency


This was a beautiful but difficult lesson when I started traveling on very little. I quickly realized that life costs a lot less than I imagined it would. My life became infinitely more amazing and I made a small fraction of what I once did. I met so many people around the world living on less than a dollar a day, locals and westerners alike. I discovered communities where people didn’t use money at all. I lived in the jungle where fruit was literally falling out of the trees and rotting on the ground, what a perfect reminder that the Earth always provides. And I found fulfillment and happiness without money.


Basically, I ended my codependent relationship with money.


To have a healthy relationship with money, like ALL relationships, you can’t depend on it. Knowing that you can still survive without money, the world will support you, and happiness always lies within you, offers tremendous freedom. This, in my experience, is how we stop being controlled by modern society. 


How do you put this into action? You don’t need to get rid of everything you have tomorrow, quit your job, and live in a tree to start healing this. Depending on your lifestyle and comfort level there are many ways.


If you can do it, go travel somewhere for a month and plan it out so you spend as little as possible… just to see that it’s possible. (Get advice on how to do that in my post How to Travel the World When You’ve Got Absolutely No Money). You could also experiment with lowering your budget for one week and noticing how you feel (more on that later in the article.) Learn more sustainable ways of living like growing your own food and you become a lot less dependent on money. 


Certainly something we all can do is bring more of our attention to the things that bring us happiness that have nothing to do with money at all. Like… nature, community, family, flowers, insects, birds, animals, dancing, stretching, singing, and on and on. 


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Stop Spending on What You Don’t Value


As I mentioned earlier, money is just a tool that we use to exchange value. So, if you’re constantly spending money on things you don’t really value, your relationship with money will be totally out of whack.


This is precisely why so many of us think we need more money than we actually do. Let me challenge my own limiting beliefs and say, there’s nothing wrong with wanting tons of money. You can do amazing things with tons of money. But if you want tons of money so you can carelessly spend it, that’s where the problem lies.


The first step in consciously honoring the value of the money is tracking what you spend. Every single day. This is a lot easier than it seems, doesn’t take much time, and to me it’s kinda fun. I use google spreadsheets and create a column for different types of expenditures (housing, food, business, wellness, fun, etc.) and show my daily and monthly totals. Like anything, simply bringing awareness to your spending will significantly influence your relationship with it.


Next, start noticing the way that you feel every time you make a purchase. Do you feel light, expansive, inspired, excited, joyful from what you spent, or unsure, ripped off, regretful, heavy, poor?


In my pre-travel life I was so used to just going to Nordstrom and spending $500 like it was nothing, that I had to be vigilant about stopping myself before swiping. Every time I walked into a store I would pause, take a deep breath, and ask myself, “do I actually want this?” Most of the time, to my surprise, the answer was no. By cutting back on the little things I didn’t value (like fancy dinners and designer shoes), I had a much bigger budget for the things I did (like travel and yoga trainings).


How do you want to feel? What matters most to you? Are your purchases reflecting that?


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Take Responsibility, Reclaim Your Power


My healing journey with money took off when I made one simple shift: I stopped expecting someone to rescue me, and I started taking responsibility.


In the past I never invested much energy into finding ways to monetize my blog because I always had it in the back of my mind that I’d just land a book deal one day. Magically someone would discover me and I’d get such a big check that I wouldn’t have to think about money. Or I thought that maybe I’d get an inheritance. An investor. Or someone in my family would save me. 


It can feel easy to avoid responsibility and expect someone else to figure out your money for you, but I truly believe that taking full responsibility especially of your finances is necessary if you want to feel fully empowered.


By doing any of the things in this article… actually just by reading this article… you’re already taking responsibility for your money relationship and making change. Keep it going!


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Acknowledge What You Have


Since you’re reading this article, you must have some kind of access to an electronic device (if not several), an internet connection, clothes (probably more than you ever wear), and enough food to keep you alive (plus more rotting in your fridge.)


No matter what your bank balance, debt situation, or financial perspective is… you have abundance. And if you’re not fully recognizing the abundance that you already have… how can you justify needing more?


Acknowledging your abundance increases your wealth practically and energetically. Practically, just by acknowledging what you already have, you realize that you’re better off than you thought you were, so consequently you ARE better off, because you feel better off. Energetically, what we focus our energy and intentions upon attracts more energy. It grows. So by focusing on the wealth you already have, you attract more into your life simply because that’s where your energy lies.


A simple way to acknowledge your abundance is to just start saying “thank you” more often. Say thank you for your food. Thank you for your home. Thank you to every dollar and cent that comes into your life. Thank you, thank you, thank you. AND PAY ATTENTION! Actually look at your bank account and validate money you receive beyond just your paycheck. Gift cards, a free dinner, all of it. Every bit matters. 


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Unshadow Your Money Stories


I did this practice for the first time recently, thanks to a book I’m currently reading Get Rich, Lucky Bitch. Reading it actually makes me uncomfortable because I have a block with judging people who want a lot of luxury material goods as shallow and destroyers of the Earth (more for me to work on!) but there is a lot of good stuff in there.


The exercise goes like this: you take your journal, sheet of paper, napkin, whatever, and start writing down from as early as you can remember all of your uncomfortable, upsetting, and traumatizing memories related to money. I easily wrote down about 50 before I was ready to stop and I’m sure there are more.


Collectively we have so much healing to do around money, so I’m certain that everyone has some memories that they feel really icky about. This process is not exactly enjoyable, but I firmly believe that you’ve got to see it to release it. Unshadow your shame, bring it into the light, so you can let that shit go. Otherwise it stays buried in your subconscious mind, controlling to behave in unconscious ways that don’t feel good.


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Forgive, Forgive, Forgive

This is the next part of the exercise. You go through each of the limiting beliefs on the list and recall the memory. Feel it fully. Then, from the most pure place possible say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” Keep repeating it until you really mean it and feel at least a little bit lighter.


What this mantra does is actually rewrite the past by sending compassion and forgiveness to yourself and the story. The mantra comes from a very powerful form of meditation called Ho’opono’pono which comes from Hawaii. (I’ve also used this meditation to help forgive romantic relationships and traumas, and it works!)


After going through all fifty of my old memories, I decided to add in my own practice. I meditated on myself at all different phases of life. Childhood, adolescence, college years, young adulthood, and now. At each phase I looked at the pieces of shame and also at the innocence. I looked at myself with compassion. I witnessed my own evolution and saw how I’m healing. I forgave myself at all of these phases. I forgave my parents. I forgave everyone.


Through forgiveness we find freedom from the past, so if we want to write a new, healthy story with money we must forgive.


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Address Your Money Blocks


Most of us have extremely limiting beliefs about money that we either inherited from our parents and society or that we learned through personal experience. Think about the way your limiting beliefs about romantic love affect your sexual relationships… it’s the same with money.


What we believe to be true influences the way we act in this world, and in turn creates our reality. Since I believed for so long that you either had to go corporate and be rich or follow your dreams and be poor, that became my experience. It wasn’t until I actively addressed this block, and used my voice of wisdom to refute it that change happened.


This practice is inspired by a wonderful online course called Manifest More (I highly recommend it!) created by a friend of mine Vienda, and has helped me a ton with my money blocks.



Take out your journal again and start recording the most limiting beliefs you have around money. Approach this with humor and lightness, and know that you’re not alone. We all have these! Then, with each limiting belief, spend some time responding to it from your most loving self. Imagine what your kindest, wisest friends would say. Write that. If possible, create mantras that remind you of your soul’s truth not your conditioned fear around money.


I recommend going back and reading through these every week and seeing which ones no longer carry their power and which ones are still affecting you. Keep working with them until they don’t feel true anymore. The more you remove these limits the more you can act from a whole, secure, loving place and attract money in a way that feels good.


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Find Money Role Models


This is a GREAT one for those of us who have trouble feeling like we deserve to make a lot of money doing what we love. In my own experience, when I see someone I respect doing something I really want, I can give myself a permission slip to do the same.


For example, years ago I had this belief that people with money were materialistic, didn’t care about the environment, over consumed, were selfish, not spiritual, and were essentially destroying the world. HA! No wonder I had trouble making money at the time!


So I sat down with myself and said, “Ok, who are some rich, spiritual, conscious people out there in the world?” The first person who came to me was Deepak Chopra, haha, because I was doing some of his meditations at the same. That man is no doubt rich. He became a permission slip in my brain. Then I thought of one of my friends in Costa Rica who loves and honors nature more than anyone I’ve ever met. She also happened to have a shit ton of money. Another role model right there. Finally, I thought of a surfer friend of mine who hardly works, makes it all look so easy, lives and travels constantly in nature, and has plenty of income. He reminded me that you don’t have to work hard to have everything you want.


Most recently I’ve chosen Oprah as my role model. Whether you like her personality or not, she offers so many of her gifts to the world, truly owns her power as a woman, and has created a lot of good and charity with her money.


Now, who are your money role models?


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See Your Self-Worth


Ahhhhhh this is a TOUGH one and I think it’s the root cause of all of our issues with money as a society: we don’t see our worth. If we knew how priceless we are, if we knew how valuable we are, if we knew how worthy we are, we would be able to use money simply as a tool to offer, create, and share.


Instead, because we think we’re unworthy, we use money to fulfill ourselves and to punish ourselves. We desperately seek it and we don’t allow ourselves to receive it.


I believe this, right here, is our life work. Learning to love ourselves enough to recognize our worth, and in turn recognize the worth of all beings, so that we can enjoy every moment on Earth. Not just with money, but with everything.


How can you value yourself more right now? Do you need to ask for a raise? Quit your job? Increase your prices? Take more time off? Give yourself permission to buy nice things? Take more baths? Do more yoga? Look in the mirror and say, “you are beautiful!” There are so many ways to love yourself. What’s something you can start doing… now? You’re worth it. All of it! 


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Offer Your Gifts More Freely


If you knew your worth, how freely would you share?


One of my favorite money mentors, Kate Northrup, says “if you’re not making as much money as you’d like, it’s because you’re not offering enough value to the world.” (Kate inspired a lot of this article, and her talk It’s Spiritual to be Rich helped me tremendously in allowing abundance into my life.)


First of all, let’s remember: YOU ARE WORTHY NO MATTER WHAT! Infinitely valuable! A treasure! Perfect just for existing! MORE THAN ENOUGH! And, because you are so valuable, the universe wants to see you shine. So if you’re withholding your gifts from the world, perhaps the universe is creating situations to motivate you to break out of the box.


What greater value can you give to this world? How are you being asked to shine?




If you feel inspired to heal not only your money story, but all of the stories standing between you and the freedom you desire, I encourage you to join us for The Freedom Tribe! This is an online journey created by me, intended to help you step forth onto your authentic path. We’ll dedicate an entire module to money and power, so if this article spoke to you, sign up

**Enrollment closes May 1st please sign up before then!**

Sign up or get all of the details here. Got questions? Just leave a comment! 



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