Music Mondays – Sober
Nothing can touch me
But why do I feel this party’s over?
You’re my protection
How do I feel this good sober?*
Over the past two years, I have worked with clients of all financial shapes and sizes who have various financial challenges. I’m currently working with a few right now who at one point were members of Debtors Anonymous or DA as they call it; and I have to confess, until I heard one of my clients talk about this, I honestly had no idea that the group existed.
I’m well aware of the other “anonymous” programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Gambler’s Anonymous, but I didn’t know there was a similar program for debtors. What I have gathered from my clients is that these programs are all very similar and at the core of it, they’re trying to address people’s addiction issues. For the DA crew, it’s not an addiction to debt, but rather an addiction to spending.
Dealing with Addiction
It’s been interesting for me working with these clients because I’m personally very familiar with addiction challenges and the help that I give them is very similar to the help you would give someone struggling with any other temptation in life.
I feel for these clients more than my others because I can truly see the struggles that they face as they fight to get financially healthy. For them, it’s not a simple numbers game; it’s an emotional battle that is real and painful. With each new struggle we uncover, though, we find another solution that works; and this is exactly why I believe in individual solutions rather than a cookie cutter approach to financial planning.
Unique Solutions for Unique Individuals
Each one of these clients was given a similar financial plan with similar exercises to help them combat their spending struggles; however, as they each set on their journey, I quickly noticed that they had different triggers and personal struggles.
For one client, we needed to focus more on clarifying her goals and giving them the emotional importance of spending. This was no easy feat as spending holds such a strong power over her as any other addiction, but we broke through and I’m happy to say that she recently declared that she officially has more money than she’s ever had in her life. The look on her face when she said this to me was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received in my life.
For another client, we work on replacement tactics where he might not get to spend money the way he would normally spend it, but I get him to spend in a more financially healthy way and help him realize that it feels just as good. I want him to feel just as good “sober” because this means more money in his bank account. I see his struggles firsthand as well, and I’m inspired by his commitment to build a better life and one with less shame around spending.
One of my newest DA clients has a great deal of shame around her spending. She feels good when she’s on the high of spending money but then when she realizes what she did, she reports in to me kicking herself and filled with disappointment. For her, we focus on the minor victories and we set very short-term goals to help her feel successful throughout her journey.
I hate to hear anyone kick themselves or get depressed about something that’s already done. What I continue to point out to her is that the past is done and all that matters now is how we move forward. Her journey is one of baby steps; however, I’m so proud of her for continuing to take those.
The Spending Addiction is Real
My point of this post is to point out that people have real struggles with money just as people have real struggles with drugs, alcohol or gambling. It’s easy to judge and point fingers but until you walk in someone else’s shoes, you truly have no idea the pain and agony of their journey. I feel blessed that I get to travel with them and prop them up along the way. My heart goes out to anyone struggling with money, but I can tell you firsthand that change is possible.
There is a way to feel good sober and there is a great life ahead, but it involves hard work, commitment and sometimes a path of nothing but baby steps. If you struggle with this, the first thing I would say is to forgive yourself and understand you’re human. The second thing I would say is to find someone. I know you may feel shame and embarrassment, but the only shame and embarrassment lies in doing nothing and not making a change.
I am proud of my clients who are working to change their spending addictions and develop a better relationship with money. I know that they are realizing that they can not only feel good sober but they can actually feel better sober because they are financially in a better place.
*Copyright Pink Sober 2008