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Supportive Financial Attitudes

2014/04/02 12:00 AM
By Jerry Browning,

Supportive Financal Attitudes:

Helping reduce the impact of daunting financial matters

“The #1 worry today is money, next is relationships and health,” according to Psychology Today magazine. Money is not only a worry itself but also a factor that can impact relationships and health. Financial distress can produce a constant sense of being defeated, fear, and detachment from significant people in your life because you don’t want to confront the conflict about money.  Supportive Financial Attitudes explores ways to provide support to decrease stress and anxiety amidst financial struggles and to increase fulfillment while facilitating change.

ANTICPATE SUCCESS…TAKE ACTION -- Most often our desire for solutions in daunting financial matters is not just about money. It includes our desire for increased fulfillment, less negativity, a simpler more positive sense of self, and a more secure connection in our family and relationships. The picture we create of financial success includes a state of well being full of positive attitude, energy, and easy relationships through which we experience joy. Learn to reduce the impact of financial distress and increase your access to fulfillment.

CHANGE HABITS FOR BETTER RESULTS…TAKE ACTION -- Change happens faster all the time, both the planned and unexpected. Accepting unplanned change can be a difficult emotional process. Transition is often difficult because it includes the uncertain area that is between where you are and where you want to be. In transition something ends and a period of chaos may occur before a new beginning forms. Learning skills for the stages of ambiguity and how to maintain strength when nothing is the same can help reduce stress and promote a more positive sense of self. Effective change requires support for emotional needs and enough time to accommodate feelings to be explored and better understood. More emotional clarity helps develop clear thinking for solutions and also increases fulfillment.

TAKE ACTION TO DIRECT YOUR FUTURE…ACT ON YOUR FINANCIAL SUCCESS -- Knowledge is power – yet only when we use it. Even when we learn new ways to improve our finances from excellent educational programs, the challenge to implement what is learned is often difficult. Changing old patterns of behavior is difficult for an individual and can challenge relationships. Supportive Financial Attitudes help you support yourself and your family in making changes, adapting to change, and going through transition to achieve all you want in life with money and people.

Our case study.  We can often learn more from someone else's situation than our own.  Then, we can apply what we learn to our own life.   

Jacqueline, 51 Years Old, Librarian, Divorced 1 year, 1 Adult Child, Joseph, (19), 1 Minor Child, Mya, (12), 1 Aging Parent, Richard, (73), Lives in Bremen

Jacqueline moved into a much smaller house a month ago and is now suddenly scrambling to make room for her father to live in the house also. In the last few years her life has changed completely from what it used to be.  She feels overwhelmed and sad. Jacqueline is employed full time as a Librarian and has advanced from a part-time Librarian to Head Librarian of the Community Library over the past two years. 

Her husband lost his job four years ago, and they tried to maintain their country home by using home equity loans, credit cards, and retirement funds. When they divorced last year and her husband moved to Toledo where he found work, Jacqueline hoped that her increased earnings would be enough to keep the country home and their horses so the kids would have what they were used to. She feels guilty that she had to sell everything.

Jacqueline’s increased responsibilities at work take more of her time and energy. Her ex-husband now pays child support for Mya, but shared custody is limited to holidays.  He plans to contribute to Joseph’s college costs in the future, but right now Joseph has education loans and is working part-time.  Jacqueline’s plans are to work at least until age 65 to support her family, help pay for college for both children, and to continue to save for her retirement.  Now Jacqueline also wants to help take care of her father as long as she can.    

Jacqueline is in transition with many changes in her life, both planned and unexpected. Today, we’ll help her identify emotions and attitudes that may be affecting her well being and sense of self.  We’ll examine common attitudes that cause stress and anxiety. We’ll explore ways that she can begin to notice strengths and build resilience.  Communication options for dealing with difficult matters will be discussed.  She may experience relief much faster than she realized possible.

Daunting Financial Matters

From 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, job layoffs to divorce, disabling accidents to increasing heating costs, and even significant holiday debt – living the good life suddenly can come to a halt. Any change or transition in life has a financial impact and an emotional impact. Understanding more thoroughly what we experience helps us react with less negativity and also enables us to prepare emotionally to move into our goals. 

In 2001 the National Endowment for Financial EducationÒ explored the needs of Americans through a multidisciplinary approach utilizing practitioners from the fields of financial planning and psychology.  These professionals joined together to identify and understand the common psychological implications of various life changing situations and address various issues including:

  • How and why many people do not seek help from either a mental health counselor or a financial planner early enough in the process
  • Understanding the self/social/financial dynamic that can alter emotional and physical abilities when financial matters may violate and threaten established sense of self and security

This collaborative work addressed the needs of anyone in transition and provided insight valuable to professionals working with clients and anyone faced with change. In her book, Your Money Personality, Dr. Kathleen Gurney says, “In all forms of human behavior there is a relationship between how you think and feel about a situation and how you act upon that situation. Money is no exception.”  We also know that when facing an unexpected change we may suddenly find ourselves confronting new feelings about money, as well as old or buried feelings. A process is needed to accommodate these powerful emotions, build or maintain meaningful relationships, and regain self-confidence and trust in others.

Supporting positive attitudes amidst change helps reduce stress and increase fulfillment. Let’s consider some ways to become more aware of our emotions and attitudes and how these can be important in our process. We’ll also check in on Jacqueline’s story and identify what’s going on for her.

Challenge and Support

Challenge and support are needed in our lives in appropriate measures to provide us with stimulus for growth. However, if we have only challenges with no support we are limited. The challenges of change require clear thinking and emotional stability. By learning how to provide what we need to support ourselves during change, we enable healthy transitions to occur that produce results moving us toward our goals. In exercises that follow we will explore some of the ways we cope with change and identify our best practices to take forward. 

We will learn how to foster resilience in states of uncertainty so that we can feel more secure that progress is being made and that we are headed toward our goals.

Clear Thinking – Translating the Negative

By providing support for your challenges and your emotional experience, you are more equipped to maintain clear thinking.

Barriers to clear thinking:

·  Worry

·  Automatic Bad Thoughts

Pay attention to the thoughts inside your mind and notice the way in which you talk to yourself.  Talk to yourself the way you talk to someone you love. Be respectful, patient, and understanding.  Be slow to anger and quick to praise. What are some things you can praise yourself for right now in your transition?


Know how to feel good when you are having a tough day. You have a catalog of memories inside you. Replay happy memories of people telling you much they value and appreciate you. Soak up those wonderful feelings of appreciation. Choose to feel great about yourself. What are some things you appreciate about yourself right now? _______________________________________________________                                   

What resources have you utilized during change in the past?


Communicating About Difficult Matters and in Difficult Times

Maintaining open, honest communication is important, but not always easy. Somehow the more highly charged a topic is, the more likely some of us are to avoid it in order to reduce stress and maintain harmony. Money is one of the most common issues for conflict in marriages and families. Here are some guidelines for basic communication that foster honesty and ongoing dialog.

  • Ask the other person if they are willing to have a discussion and set a time to address your issues when there are no distractions
  • Take one issue at a time and isolate your focus on that one thing
  • Be respectful of the other’s thoughts, feelings, or views.
  • Listen when another talks. Listen with your heart and notice what is alive in them about this issue
  • Repeat back what the other tells you to ensure understanding
  • Ask questions to clarify what they feel and want
  • Talk in “I  Statements” – first person language that says, “I need ----, or I have ----“
  • Refrain from using “You Statement” – second person language that says, “You are always saying that.” This style can be received as blaming to the other and often produces a defensive response.
  • When you present your view be clear about what you feel and what you want
  • Ask the other person to tell you what you said so you can confirm your intended message
  • Thank the other for their response, and if it is not what you intended say that you’d like to try again.


  1. 1. Take a deep breath and identify your emotions. A financial crisis can trigger a range of emotions – anger, disappointment, fear, frustration, and loss of self-esteem. Recognize these feeling for what they are – responses to a difficult, stressful situation. Clearly identify your emotions, name them, and then honor them as part of your process. Let’s review Jacqueline’s story for emotions she is experiencing:  “She feels overwhelmed and sad.”  “She feels guilty…”

2. Recognize your attitude. Evaluate how it is serving you. Translate your attitude into a positive. Once your emotions are identified you also may also notice a prevailing attitude about the issues. If you’ve experienced unexpected change and your emotion is fear, your attitude could be that it seems useless to try to get ahead because something bad will come along and undo the good you have done.

Jacqueline’s attitude had been that she’d find a way to meet her family’s needs. By going from part-time work to a full-time increased her earnings significantly. She kept her job in the community so she’d be available for her daughter. Despite her perseverance, she had not counted on her father also needing her. Possibly she feels pulled in more directions than she can handle. She may feel defeated.

  1. 3. Make emergency accommodations for your support.  When negative impacts from change occur, find relief from agencies, counseling, employee assistance programs, or other providers.  Jacqueline has downsized her home, increased her work, and taken on more responsibility in raising her children and helping her father. I wonder what emotional support she utilized during those times? 
  2. 4. Communicate! Talk about your feelings with someone who is safe. Keep in touch with your emotions and discuss how you are finding positive support that helps you feel better.
  2. 5. Enlist resources for ongoing support so you and your situation can evolve. Seek support resources that are positive for you, being open and honest with yourself about what you can accomplish and where you need help. Get as much help s you can and accept it with warmth.
  2. 6. Manage your emotions. Awareness of feelings can allow a normal evolution of emotions to occur. For example, with practice some feelings of anxiety will subside sooner when we recognize that by a normal progression the anxiety diminishes naturally.
  2. 7. Nurture your positive attitude. Your self-talk is a strong component in attitude.  Translating negative thoughts into more positive phrases can help provide support.
  2. 8. Restore strength – build resilience.  Acknowledge all accomplishments and everything that is contributing to your life functioning, well being, and relationships. From your body and mind to the daylight that greets you as wake up – affirm your life and living.

Strategy of Transition

Transition is the human side of change. It is essential. Transition takes longer than change. It helps bring all your inner strength and vitality into a new situation. Without transition, we often experience change with little or no acceptance, understanding, commitment, or passion. Transition is the psychological, three-phase process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the details of a new situation that the change brings about. Transitions involve: Ending, Neutral Zone, and Beginning.

Ending:  The end of something that used to be.   Doing something a certain way, or doing it at all.  Having someone in your life that is no longer there, or who is there in a different way or different capacity. 

Neutral Zone:  A time between the ending and beginning when there is great uncertainty and ambiguity.   It is a time of flux, limbo, exploration, seeking, and it often feels like a struggle.

Beginning:   A beginning is a time in which you are comfortable with your new identity and have rebuilt your world.   When you know what you desire – you begin.

Your Changes:  Let’s create a frame of mind for identifying the changes in your life. Utilize this exercise of readiness: Take a few deep breaths, smile, and think about assessing where you are right now. You have the value of being a veteran of your own life, full of rich experience that has taken you through changes before. Your new realities represent a shift from what used to be in your life. These changes also bring opportunity for your renewal.

What’s Working Now?  Constantly recognize what’s in place and working well. Don’t overlook anything that is functioning for you, including your body, mind and spirit that keep you going. List what is working for you now:


Create Temporary Methods.  We often do not have enough information to form long-term strategies, yet we need ways to keep our life going, earning income, running the household, and taking care of those we love. We must do what is before us, while we also gather more information to develop better plans.  Transition is a process that accommodates effective change. Closing down the process too soon might eliminate a solution or way of doing things that is the very best for you. What are some temporary methods you are using now or could use to navigate your transition and move closer to your goals?


Seek Support Resources That Are Positive For You. Being open and honest with yourself about what you can accomplish and where you need help. Get as much help as you can and accept it with warmth.  Receiving is an important component to giving. Learning to receive is important in transition. Find any kind of help you need. The financial resources in this program are enormously valuable. Also locate help for your health and well being so you do not get burned out. What are some possible resources to help you in your transition?



Learn how to recognize strenght, build resilience, and change attitudes about money matters to reduce the negative impact they may have on you and your family.  Identify common attitudes that cause stress and anxiety for individuals and that can also hurt relationships.  Increase options for ways to communicate about difficult matters such as money.  Take action toward positive change that will help direct you to a better financial future for you and your family.  Learning supportive financial attitudes will help you to focus on ways to support well being amidst financial distress.