Tag Archives: money taboo

Money Self-Talk

Did you happen to see this quote on Facebook?  Being taught to avoid talking about politics and religion has led to a lack of understanding of politics and religion.  What we should have been taught was how to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic.’

You probably won’t be surprised that my brain went right to:  ‘…and when it comes to money, it’s an even more taboo topic!’  Mostly we don’t even talk about that we don’t talk about it, and the aforementioned ‘lack of understanding’ around money is monumental.  I truly do think it’s the MOST taboo topic on the planet.

And the person we talk to the least about money is actually ourself.  Sure we have money conversations in our head.  Most often they are rants about what we are doing wrong — judgements of our short comings.  These aren’t actual conversations where we listen — really listen — to what we are saying about money.  This is unexplored money self-talk.

The important thing here, is that what we say is what we believe.  Our internal dialog rules our brain.  If the primary belief we have is that money is this awful, scary stuff that we can’t actually get a handle on and don’t understand, we will make that the truth and act accordingly.

A large part of my job is to really hear what people are saying, both out loud and in their heads.  I try to clue in on when I hear someone using internal and external language-based judgement, criticism, and just not feeling good about ourselves.  Some of the words that we use around money that tip me off to this are: enough, earned, value, deserve, frugal, broke, wasteful.  Other words that strike even deeper show how we judge what we are doing —  how we  ‘should’, ‘must’, ‘have to’, and ‘got to’.  It’s often pretty subtle stuff.  And I’m pretty much all over my clients, encouraging them to thinking in terms of ‘wanting’ or ‘choosing’ to do things instead of all those other options.

The real reason for that is that coming from that more self-directed positive place is just plain more effective.  All that negative nattering distracts us from the task at hand, and that limits our abilities.

How about you find a way to have a couple of heart-to-heart money conversations with yourself?  I know it sounds a bit ‘out there’ but why not?  Tune in and notice when you say a negative thing about yourself, about you and money, even about your expectations of what is possible in your life.  Why not start by making a simple list of your self-talk phrases and then noting if they are positive, negative, or even neutral.

What’s going on there in your head?  You can absolutely shift it.  You can learn new words and hold new ideas.  You even can learn to ‘correct’ yourself when you say something like, “I’ll never make it!”  You can choose to follow it with “…unless, of course, I do!

There is a bit of sneaky science behind this idea.  It’s all about neural pathways.  The ones that get more use get stronger, the ones with little use diminish.  You get to choose.  What are you reinforcing?  See what you can learn about what you really say about money.  And how, with just a bit of noticing and language focus, you can change your money thinking — really, you can!


Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to some support in hearing your internal messages and making these change give me a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Cuckoo Clock Phenomenon

The other day my massage person and I were talking about how sometimes a long-term client just disappears for some amount of time, and then often returns some time later.  I can’t be sure in all instances, but my guess is that what is often happening with this kind of stuff is something I call the Cuckoo Clock Phenomenon.  

On some level the client acts as if you, the practitioner, live in a Cuckoo Clock, and between interactions with the client you are inside the clock waiting for them to chime the hour and ask you to come out.  They are rightly thinking of themselves, not you.

When you are in a personal service type of profession like a coach, massage therapist, virtual assistant, etc., clients often end up leaving your ‘practice’ without warning.  They just stop, which can leave you dangling.

In many ways this is just fine. You are providing a service, and that is how the client thinks of you.  It’s not personal.  For them, when you are not with them, they do not think of you.  These are your clients, not your friends or family.  You do the same thing.  I don’t think of the dentist or the person who pet-sits my cat when I’m out of town in between when I need their services either.

Part of what gets this in a tangle is that when we provide a service based largely on our own selves, it can feel more personal when the client leaves or takes a long break. It very likely that if they do disappear it’s not about you. It’s about something else.  That something else could be a myriad of things, many of which you haven’t even thought of.

One of the things I find intriguing  about this, is that there is more often than not a money component in the disappearance.  Or at least the illusion of a money piece.  Let me give you an example of my very own!

When I first moved to Portland I was getting massages by a perfectly good massage therapist.  (Yes, I think that at least two rubs a month are a necessity)  All of a sudden, one day, I had the thought that “I can’t afford this any more!”   First I kinda looked around and thought “Who said that?”  Then I dug a little deeper.

Nothing had changed in my money situation—I had the funds to continue with the massages.  What I finally realized is that what had changed is that I was simply tired of the method the person used.  The massages were fine.  I just needed a change.  Frankly that was too weird and awkward for my brain to process, I had to make up a more viable reason—and money is always good for one of those.  Of course, it costs too much.  On some level that makes sense because I no longer valued the massage in the same way.  What is really more likely is that “I can’t afford it” is a great excuse.  Getting clear on this was very helpful to me.  I got clear that I could still afford to get a massage, I just needed a different  masseuse.

See here’s the deal.  Money is the most taboo topic, ever!  If you want to get out of something just bring up the money and people will quickly scurry away.  And it goes deeper.  Something like a massage, coaching, or fitness training are often thought of as indulgent, or selfish—not as self-care, growth, or improvement.  When things get tough financially we are more likely to sacrifice those things that help us feel and do better with some kind of “things are already tough, so let’s make it harder—it will build character” logic.

This is a likely scenario when you have a client that all of a sudden disappears and  then returns sometime later.  The return indicates they liked the service you provided.  If that’s true, then the disappearance was probably something about money.  Or at least that the client thought was about money.  And the client figured you will just be sitting inside the Cuckoo Clock waiting for their return, right?


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you end up in this kind of money tangle as a practitioner or client give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

How Deep Does the Money Taboo Go?

How deep does the money taboo go?  Pretty deep, if you ask me!  I recently experienced a remarkable example of just how systemic this taboo around talking about money is: I signed up for Medicare.  Yep, as of October 17th I will pass into one of those milestone years: 65.   I wish I lived it a culture where they’d send me flowers, maybe a watch, or even a certificate.

Instead what I got was the ‘joy’ of signing up for Medicare.  Frankly, it’s a bewildering experience.  For those of you who haven’t been through the adventure, here’s what you can expect:

  • A deluge of phone calls from people wanting to sell you Medicare of various parts and flavors
  • Warnings that you’d better pick Part B now, or forever pay more money—they don’t actually say how much more, just more!
  • Letters from current insurers telling you to contact Social Security and sign up
  • A letter from the Social Security Administration telling you to enroll

medicare-moneyWhat you don’t get is any clarity about the process or any idea of the cost.  I went on line to sign up.  I found it ironic that when you sign up there are not any questions about what carrier you have chosen for the supplemental stuff.   It’s more like “do you want this, yes or no?” Oh and up to this point there is absolutely no mention of what it might cost.  Hmmm.

So then the magic card comes in the mail, and for me the other card from Kaiser telling me to hide the magic card, and only use their card.  Again no mention of money.  (I know I’m a bit obsessed with wanting to know about costs—it goes with the territory being a recovering accountant and a money coach)

All this started in early July.  Finally I got a bill for the Part A and/or Part B (really just Part B but why make it easy?) issued on August 26th.  It was for October through December—so for a quarter—and it was for $365.40.  That’s $121.80 per month, which I assume is the going rate for people signing up now since I have one friend that pays $104 per month and another who pays $109 per month.

So the first time I actually received any notification of what it’s going to cost is when I got the bill.  That’s pretty interesting, isn’t it?  When you buy almost anything you actually know the cost first, right?  But not with this!

And there is at least one more money thing attached to this that I found totally astounding.  You have some choices.  You can pay monthly instead of quarterly, you can set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking, and you can pay by credit card (sort of).  Actually the credit card option is both archaic and dangerous.  Want to pay by credit card?  Great, fill out the form on the bottom of the bill from U.S. Department of Health and Services and mail it back to them. Peachy.  Then a human (and no doubt a different one every time you send in a payment) will open and process your payment.  With all the concerns about keeping credit card information secure this is bizarre!

And just as a side note, the Social Security folks—who are very much tied to Medicare—decided to do this wacky thing earlier this year.  They were going to make it that each time you tried to sign on to the Social Security website they would send a special code to your cell phone that you’d have to input to get on line.  Sometime after the announcement they backed out of that mess.  I guess someone pointed out that. contrary to popular opinion, not everyone has a cell phone, or (like me) has it on all the time!

The reason I felt compelled to write about this is less about the vagaries of money and Medicare and more about how deep the taboo around money goes.  Deeper than we think, yes?  There is a way it is so deep we don’t even notice that we aren’t talking about it.

Given that money is something we use and think about everyday, it remains amazing how taboo it is.  I can’t help thinking that if the conversations were more open and the topic was just plain talked about we’d have less trouble with money… hmmm.


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Want to explore your money taboo? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website: www.sensiblecoaching.com