The Emotional Roots of Money Issues

I’m a financial planner, not a therapist. Nevertheless, I want to talk about your emotions.

(Relax. I’m not trying to be Dr. Phil here. This will all make sense shortly.)

We need to discuss emotions because everyday job situations and money matters stir up strong feelings inside us. And our reactions in those moments have a huge bearing on our financial health.

So, let me ask, what happens to you emotionally when:

  • You get passed over for a promotion and raise?
  • You fail to close a sale?
  • Your ideas are dismissed by management?
  • You get turned down for that business loan?
  • Your investments go south?

Or think back to your last job search. Can you recall a situation where you felt like you nailed the interview and all the signs were positive? You left with a spring in your step. But the next day you got word that the company decided to “go in another direction.”

What did that news do to your psyche? Were you crushed? Did you descend into a “doom and gloom” funk? Start telling yourself things like, “I’ll NEVER get a decent job! Nobody’s EVER going to hire me!”? How’d you handle that hiring setback?

Okay, imagine another interview. This time the HR person is easy to read. You’re about to get shown the door.

Only, you’re smiling! You’re actually pleasant, waiting for the interviewer to get through her speech so you can thank her—sincerely—and leave.

And the reason you’re unfazed by this rejection? You have a healthier mindset. You’re eager to get to your next interview! Because in that room there’s a person who’s been looking for you for weeks! 

Your skills and their needs are a perfect match. Talk about a win-win! It’s the perfect job for you, and you’re the ideal new employee for some lucky company.

Okay, but suppose your “perfect new job” didn’t surface in that next interview? What if you had to hear “I’m sorry. You’re just NOT a good fit” five more times. Or TEN?

Suppose your dream interview wasn’t to take place for 90 days? Talk about tough! But, with a confident mindset, you could avoid despair, right?

You could endure a whole string of rejections IF you were convinced that your skills were needed by someone.

Here’s the takeaway: We all have a built-in emotional thermometer. Except, instead of measuring hot and cold, it measures how we’re feeling from one situation to the next. 

For reasons that involve both nature and nurture, we all have different “normal” emotional temperatures. Some of us tend to be more optimistic, all the time. Others tend toward pessimism.

But your internal thermometer is only part of the story. We also have at our disposal an emotional thermostat. Call it your mindset. It doesn’t measure your emotional temperature. This thermostat SETS your emotional temperature.

Now, if you forget that you have this emotional thermostat, you’ll live at the mercy of your circumstances. Get bad news and you’ll moan, “I’m done. I can’t take it anymore. I give up.” You’ll put on your fuzzy robe and old socks, reach for that half-gallon of ice cream in your freezer and binge-watch three seasons of some mindless TV show. 

And the next day, your situation will be unchanged, you’ll be mad at yourself (and your new pants won’t fit anymore). 

Next week, we’re going to examine an alternative to succumbing to unhelpful emotions. We’ll look at how to move your emotional thermostat to a healthier setting: Confident optimism.

Meanwhile, if you’re feeling the emotion of anxiety as you ponder how to turn your retirement assets into regular retirement income for the rest of your life email me ( for a link to take our free 5-minute quiz. It can help you figure out—based on your unique “financial personality” the best process for you.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

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