For some time, I have been a fan of the work of Brene Brown. She is a researcher and therapist who has extensively researched the topic of shame and vulnerability. These two topics don’t sound top-of-mind for good entertainment, but let me tell you, her work is fascinating.
Shame is one of the most basic human emotions and most of us carry some relationship to it on our shoulders.
You can listen to one her Ted talks here to really understand how relevant understanding shame is to our everyday lives.
Her theory is: closely related to shame, and in fact the antidote to it, is being vulnerable. Telling the truth about ourselves even when we are ashamed of it. In fact, she believes this is the only way to release shame.
I have thought about this much over the past few months. This is because, quite simply, I believe money and shame have an incredibly close relationship.
As I approach 25 years in the financial services industry, I have seen this play out in a number of ways. People afraid to seek advice because they are ashamed of their financial situation, or ashamed at their lack of knowledge. Marriages breaking down and the shame attached to the financial situation. The shame many of us in the finance industry feel at the heartbreaking stories revealed by the Royal Commission that show people being mistreated by financial institutions.
These revelations on shame could go on and on. I have thought long and hard about how to combat this. For me personally, I have started to talk more publicly about the many mistakes I have made with money - and believe me when I say I have a lot of material to work with! It’s a step toward being more vulnerable, more truthful and gives other people permission to do the same.
Because I honestly believe until people can overcome the shame of their financial situation, they are not in a position to change or take advice. So I ask you all to become vulnerable too. Talk about your mistakes. Your fears. No matter what your net worth is, or what role you play in society, telling the truth and overcoming your own shame gives others people permission to do that too.
In a world where money is one of the last taboos, and most people keep their cards close to their chest, releasing shame to make way for education and awareness might be one of the most important tools we have at hand.
I’m game if you are.
Until next time
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