Adverse childhood experiences are great factors in being addicted to debt. Dr. Vincent Felitti, who conducted research for the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE) Study since 1990, says there is a powerful relationship between our emotional experiences as children and our physical and mental health as adults.
Some people choose eating, drinking, some others, it’s drugs, it’s spending, it’s relationships, or even sex addiction to cope with the circumstances when they’re young children. When caught in a situation that overwhelms us or where we don’t have a voice or power, or where we don’t get the support that we need, it rewires our nervous system and neurology to become very reactive to stress. It triggers a stress gene so to be able to survive, we find ways of soothing ourselves and one way is through material things which cause us to be in trouble around debt.
According to Debtors Anonymous, there are 12 signs of compulsive debting:
- Being unclear about your financial situation. Not knowing account balances, monthly expenses, loan interest rates, fees, fines, or contractual obligations.
- Frequently “borrowing” items such as books, pens, or small amounts of money from friends and others, and failing to return them.
- Poor saving habits. Not planning for taxes, retirement or other not-recurring but predictable items, and then feeling surprised when they come due; a “live for today, don’t worry about tomorrow” attitude.
- Compulsive shopping: Being unable to pass up a “good deal”; making impulsive purchases; leaving price tags on clothes so they can be returned; not using items you’ve purchased.
- Difficulty in meeting basic financial or personal obligations, and/or an inordinate sense of accomplishment when such obligations are met.
- A different feeling when buying things on credit than when paying cash, a feeling of being in the club, of being accepted, of being grown up.
- Living in chaos and drama around money: Using one credit card to pay another; bouncing checks; always having a financial crisis to contend with.
- A tendency to live on the edge: Living paycheck to paycheck; taking risks with health and car insurance coverage; writing checks hoping money will appear to cover them.
- Unwarranted inhibition and embarrassment in what should be a normal discussion of money.
- Overworking or underearning: Working extra hours to earn money to pay creditors; using time inefficiently; taking jobs below your skill and education level.
- An unwillingness to care for and value yourself: Living in self-imposed deprivation; denying your basic needs in order to pay your creditors.
- A feeling or hope that someone will take care of you if necessary, so that you won’t really get into serious financial trouble, that there will always be someone you can turn to.
So what can we do about it? The first thing is BE AWARE. Understanding your trauma footprint. Appreciating and giving yourself self-care, self-love and respect. Working to release the shame around the way it’s manifested in your life as an adult, whether that’s some sort of addiction. Becoming really aware, standing back and looking how we’re all being manipulated to borrow money. Ultimately, to live a right-sized life around our money.
It is about recognizing what will work for you. And if that means reading lots of books or listening to podcasts, then start there. If it means you need to go and ask for help, go and find the right person that you think might help or go and ask your friends’ for recommendations.
Checkout The Chrysalis Effect which offers a coaching-based recovery pathway for people. They also have a multidisciplinary team who are trained to become trauma informed recovery coaches. You can also get support from Debtors Anonymous or Underearners Anonyous and join the first 6 meetings to listen and see if any of what they’re saying is resonating with you. You can also check out Step Change who is supporting people holistically through spiritual recovery.
There will be an answer, it’s just finding out what’s right for you. The things we keep silent, secret and hold inside us can destroy our mental and physical health if not addressed properly.
Listen to PART 2 of the podcast here
Stay connected with Elaine:
Website: The Chrysalis effect : https://thechrysaliseffect.co.uk/