Misha M, 24-year-old Therapist, talks debt, spending habits, and why we need to start talking about money
Money can cause us to have an array of emotions and it’s important to address these emotions as they arise. Bola Sol, the founder of Refined Currency, took the opportunity to ask an experienced therapist, Misha M about how we can improve the balance between our money and mental health.
Misha M: Financial worry and debt is a common psychological factor that leads to depression and anxiety. A lot of the time, people come to therapy when they no longer feel in control. Worrying about your finances excessively can also lead to sleeplessness, changes in appetite and physical symptoms of anxiety.
What do you think about people using the term, “I’m broke”?
Misha M: “Thinking errors” is a useful tool in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that we use to help clients identify negative thoughts. “I’m broke,” or “I’m this or that” can contribute to a negative thinking pattern that exaggerates the reality of a situation. It also doesn’t leave much room for realistic thoughts that could potentially lead to solutions.
Example: If I keep saying to myself, “I’m broke” then one day I go into my fridge, see it’s empty and say, “See, nothing is going to change”. This usually doesn’t lead to you taking actionable steps to change it.
How does mental health affect our spending?
Misha M: Low mood, in particular, can have a negative impact on spending habits if not managed. It is quite common for people to use spending money as a means to change their emotional state. Although it improves your mood at the time, spending impulsively doesn’t allow an opportunity to work through the feeling that got you there in the first place; this becomes a distraction, rather than a solution. I’ve worked with a few clients who have gotten into a lot of debt because of excessive shopping and betting, as a way of coping with depression.
How important do you think it is that we have conversations with ourselves? I do it with my financial worries and I wanted your perspective.
Misha M: In therapy, we usually encourage clients to use problem-solving to manage financial difficulties. It can be quite useful to ask yourself “How can I turn this worry into a practical problem”. This allows you to think about how you could tackle it, instead of dwelling on how you got there in the first place. “Why” is problem focused and “How” is solution focused. I would encourage them to think of all the possible solutions and evaluate each to make an informed decision e.g. strengths and weaknesses. When dealing with finances, it’s important to take a step back and plan. Each step taken leads you to the desired goal.
Why do you think people don’t like to talk about money?
Misha M: I think people are reluctant to discuss money because we often use it to measure each other’s success. The state of your finances can be used to determine how mature or organised you are, but I don’t believe this is the case. We all value it differently, but if it means a lot to you; it becomes something that you want to protect and keep to yourself. Everyone has/has had money problems, but I think there should be a lot more dialogue around this topic. Trying to deal with things ourselves is usually the reason why we end up in a therapy room, so talk. If you talk to someone about it, you permit a different perspective to be considered. The more conversations you have the better. If you don’t want your friends to know, speak to someone in your family. Or use the internet! But ultimately, everyone needs to talk about their finances a bit more openly.
This interview was conducted and edited by Bola