Do You Have Money Dysphoria?

Have you ever heard of money dysmorphia? I’m willing to guess that you haven’t…but body dysmorphia? Chances are that’s a little bit more familiar, so I want to share my recent shopping trip to American Eagle (I love how their jeans fit me!). I’ve been buying their jeans for years. And as I was searching the racks and tables for the perfect pair of shorts, something really crazy happened.

Since I invested in my personal trainer and started actually losing weight, I’ve been experiencing a kind of body dysmorphia. And it definitely shows up when I’m jean shopping.

I hold up jeans in the store that I have in the same size at home and think, “There’s no way these can fit me.”

The thought makes no sense because I’ve been buying and wearing this new size for well over a year now. Yet I still struggle to take that size off the rack and into the dressing room.

This is because even though the logical part of my brain knows they will fit me, my eyes are deceiving me. I cannot picture being able to button the top button, let alone get them over my hips.

The picture I have of ME in my head is 30 pounds heavier because that’s the body I lived in for so long. Even though I can see my body as it is today in the mirror, it’s not the image I believe.

So what do I do? I grab the size that fits me, but I also grab a pair that is one or even two sizes bigger. I take tons of jeans into the dressing room, but the size of the jeans I have at home (the “small” size that my eyes have convinced me won’t even pull over my hips) fits me perfectly every time.

THAT is body dysmorphia. It’s when the picture you have in your head does not match real life. Body dysmorphia is a mental roadblock that happens to many people for many reasons.

And here’s the craziest part: IT HAPPENS WITH YOUR MONEY TOO!

What is Money Dysmorphia?

Money dysmorphia isn’t a concept many people think or know about. But we see our financial coaching clients go through this same type of struggle with their money. They face roadblocks and sometimes have money anxiety because they don’t believe the numbers in their bank account are real.

Money Dysmorphia Can Make You Afraid To Spend

People who have money dysmorphia live with the mentality of a broke person. They feel poor even though they are not. They think they can’t afford anything, even when it’s budgeted for. They might purchase an item or book a trip they’ve saved for, and their first thought is, “You can’t afford this!”

Even when they actually can.

Money Dysmorphia Can Make You Not Trust Yourself

Let’s say that you couldn’t trust yourself with money for a long time. You overspent and had bad money habits, but through hard work and a lot of effort, you got out from under it. You’ve been working for a long time to make yourself financially secure.

You now make great financial decisions, and you accomplish your goals. Yet when a big financial decision shows up, you do not trust yourself to make it.

Having one or two years of trusting ourselves with these decisions sometimes doesn’t feel long enough. We haven’t shifted our identity yet. It might take you a while to believe, “Yes, I can trust myself, and I can make these decisions.”

Money dysmorphia can also mean feeling insecure and unstable despite having plenty of money in savings, a padded emergency fund, and being in a really stable financial position. You might have everything you’re supposed to have and still feel insecure about your money.

That’s money dysmorphia.

Even when you’re doing well financially, you’ve worked hard to get there, and you’re making great decisions, you struggle with a fear of spending money.

Shifting Your Money Mindset Takes Work

This is why we often have to help our clients with their money mindset as a part of financial coaching. Money is not all dollars and cents. In fact, making decisions about money is inherently emotional, we can’t rely on the logic of numbers. Numbers don’t tell the whole story.

As financial coaches, we coach people through the mental part of managing, saving, spending, and planning their money. We have to work through how people have always felt and thought about money so they can adopt a new mindset and identity. We want to eliminate their money dysmorphia, but training their brains to think differently with money first takes practice.

Just like I’ll eventually stop taking four different sizes of jean shorts into the dressing room with me, eventually, you will start to see yourself as the fiscally fit person you are. It takes time.

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