MONEY AND TRAUMA
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Let’s bask in the sun that warmed our homes and the beauty of soul Sundays and pancakes. The nice festivities ignited excitement into our innocent lives. The tantrums that we threw or maybe tried to because who would dare throw a tantrum in an African home?
The best thing about being young and innocent is the failure of understanding how the world moves. No one tells you that money is needed nor do they mention it when it is short, because of this most of us have an unidentified trauma when it comes to finances. The trauma could have been caused by either lacking, individuals who stem from poverty will attest to this or having too much but getting suddenly cut off. This may be as a result of a loss of a breadwinner or retrenchment or job loss that dictates a lifestyle change. We have all been here and if you haven’t then here’s a snippet.
When did you realise the power that money had? I will tell you about mine. I realised that money had power in these two instances: one when I was a young girl my Aunt, who was the Oprah of the family, would choose who could visit her, meaning visiting the city. The second incident happened in high school when I was put out of class for lacking fees. I was humiliated, the third happened on campus again when my father could not raise fees and I had to sit out on examinations and repeat a class. I was sad and humiliated, to say the least.
There are two sides to finances and financial literacy. The economic aspect which I preach daily, save, budget invest and the extraenomic aspect that no one talks about. This is cognitive, physiological and behavioural. It encompasses the experiences, memories — even trauma — that structure our relationships with money and wealth. Unfortunately if not addressed they affect us till the very end. These incidences left an imprint in my life. They have dictated my relationship with money to date.
Financial Trauma according to Galen Buckwalter, the CEO of psyML and an expert on financial trauma, defines financial PTSD as “the physical, emotional, and cognitive deficits people experience when they cannot cope with either abrupt financial loss or the chronic stress of having inadequate financial resources.”It can be caused by childhood experiences as well as present-day incidences like unemployment or lack of a source of income, loss of a job or a source of income, huge student loans, credit card debt among others. FT as is commonly referred to always goes unnoticed. Like any other mental health condition, it doesn’t manifest with clear symptoms like the flu would, because of this it goes unaddressed and hinders the financial development of many.
Most of us are in this state. Money can equate to security, safety, status, or power. Money can be interpreted as worthiness. There are so many unconscious ideas embedded in our relationship to money, that it only makes sense that financial trauma is pervasive, yet goes largely unaddressed.