Breaking the Patterns that Bind Us – I was thinking today about a woman I talked to recently about financial abuse. Something in her story made me think that there is an issue I haven’t addressed yet.
Patterns and habits. These are things that we have done for some time that feel normal and comfortable but are no longer serving us. In order to change our money story, we need to break free of them.
Although I believe everyone has some unhealthy patterns, I’m thinking of those that tie to our roles as victims. As victims we are not likely to realize that what we are doing is participating in the unhealthy dance with our perpetrators in a way that keeps us in our assigned roles.
For example, when it comes to financial abuse, the perpetrator may choose his partner (unconsciously or consciously) because she has a pattern of naivete when it comes to money. It is easy for him to become the money controller, doling out an allowance that the victim must live on.
This creates a pattern in the victim. She depends on someone else to provide her instruction on how to handle money. Then, when she tries to leave or does leave, she has no self-confidence on how to handle her own money. She falls back into a similar situation, such as accepting money guidance, or even just money, from another man. Perhaps he is even her father or a brother. She does not realize that this is still playing the victim.
Too frequently, we as women don’t believe we have what it takes to learn about money. So, we turn to men for advice, money, guidance, or just reassurance that what we’re doing is right.
The ironic part here is that if you’ve escaped from a financially abusive relationship, turning to a man (assuming your perpetrator was male) for assistance will continue the pattern of playing the victim, even if he is not abusing you. Leaning on a man to help you handle your finances is fine, as long as he is teaching you how to manage them, not managing them for you.
Jumping from one man-assisted financial situation to another is the pattern I believe we need to be careful to avoid.
Ladies, let me tell you a secret: women are statistically better at managing money than men are. We tend to pay more attention to the details and know where our money is going. We tend to be savers more than spenders. And we live with an underlying fear of being bag ladies, which drives us to maintain our income well into old age.
Men often accuse women of being shopaholics. The truth is that if we go a little crazy with the credit card now and then, it’s generally on relatively small purchases compared to men. When men make impulse purchases, they tend to buy high ticket items like cars, boats, houses. You get my drift.
When we shop till we drop, we do it on much smaller purchases. Even when added up, they don’t usually come close to the amount that men spend when they impulse buy.
I’m saying two things here:
First, don’t fall back into old patterns. Don’t think that you need a man to “gift” you money. Trust me, there are strings attached somewhere even if you don’t see them. Don’t let him mansplain finances to you or treat you like you can’t handle money.
Second, you do have the financial acumen wired into you somewhere. You just may not realize it yet. Figure out how to find it in order to build your money-confidence and take charge of your own life.
Once you face these two truths and decide that you are going to establish new patterns based on your self-confidence, then you will be able to break out of the victim mode and truly recover from financial abuse.
I believe we all have the intrinsic ability to understand and manage our own finances.
If you need some help along the way, then I suggest you turn to women until you feel confident that your bad habits are fully broken and that you won’t accidentally get led down a path of déjà vu.
There are many fantastic female financial leaders out there that can be wayshowers. Don’t be afraid to follow them. If you want to start understanding and learning about your finances, please join our mailing list. We are in the process of developing resources to help all women become financially savvy.
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. – Breaking the Patterns that Bind Us Join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensurivingfinancialabuse