Trauma and money; two seemingly unrelated issues. But, Mindfulness Money Coach Chantel Chapman chats with Ratehub’s Real Money Talk Podcast about how trauma and mental health can be affecting your finances. Founder of The Trauma of Money and What the Finances, Chantel is an expert on the connections between mindfulness and personal finance. She discusses how being conscious about the motivations behind our decisions will help your bottom line.
Who is Chantel Chapman?
Chantel started her career as a mortgage broker at 21. But most people weren’t interested in working with youth for the largest purchase of their lives. In an effort to wow her clients, Chantel learned as much as she could about personal finance. This eventually led her to start a program to share this knowledge with young people who weren’t taught those skills at school.
After experiencing some trauma in her own life, Chantel started to make connections between addiction, trauma, and personal finance issues. This started a four-year journey into money mindfulness, sending her across the globe for deep financial learning.
“It’s not just about our superficial knowledge about how budgets work,” says Chantel, “it’s what’s happening on a thoughts, emotions, and sensations level when I am interacting with my money.”
When most people discuss trauma, they think of things like sexual abuse or experiencing a horrific event. This is “capital T” trauma, and although it can have an impact on your finances, Chantel focuses on a different concept: little T trauma.
How trauma affects our consumer behaviour
“Little T trauma is when something happened or didn’t happen to you when you were a child creates this sense of not feeling love, not feeling safe, and putting you in a place of comparison.”
This little T trauma affects the nervous system, which Chantel says has a big impact on our relationship with money. “If we grow up in chaos, if we grow up in scarcity, or if we grow up in anything that makes us feel like there’s some instability then our nervous system is basically going to be used to that.”
This feeling of chaos or fear can create a flight or fight response in our nervous system, making us look for some distraction or solution. Unfortunately, that solution may be spending our hard earned money.
“If you spend because it is giving you temporary pleasure or decreasing your pain, but it has negative consequences, then that is considered addictive or compulsive spending.”
A natural response living in a world encourages us to buy something to fill the hole created by sadness, loneliness, or feelings of inadequacy.
How to use money mindfulness in our spending habits
Chantel thinks the first step to fight this response is to ask ourselves why we are making a purchase.
“I’m spending because I’m bored right now. Or I’m spending because I’m avoiding the things I need to do. I’m spending because I don’t feel like I look good enough for that party I’m going to… so I’m going to buy a brand new outfit even though I can afford [it].”
Understanding this response and trying to deal with the root cause rather than spending money is key to money mindfulness.
Chantel encourages you to witness your emotions and “witness your thoughts.” She likes to use the term “interesting” when looking at how her nervous system responds to a buying situation.
“What are my thoughts right now? Not judging them but saying ‘wow I’m viewing (a situation) like this, interesting… and then from there what are the emotions I’m feeling… starting to name those and ask where I’m feeling those in my body?”
For Chantel, the key is creating space to disconnect from your nervous system’s response, and instead use mindfulness to react to that response.
To find out more about the tools you can use to respond to your nervous system and to hear how ancient philosophy can help you lead a better financial life, check out the full podcast.
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