How to Heal Your Money Shame

Doreen had a bad case of money shame. She believed she would never get out of debt. She told me it was “over her head,” and that “it should be easier than this.” Doreen is not her real name, and she was a participant in Smart Women Make Money.

I’ve worked with so many women in my Smart Women Make Money class that are suffering emotionally with money shame. Many of them are ashamed they have accumulated debt or that they avoid looking at their money. They live in fear. These beliefs cost you emotionally – they cause you to suffer.

What you believe is what you will live out. 

To say it another way – your thoughts and beliefs drive your emotions that in turn drive your behavior that gives you a result. So when you stay in money shame, you’ll feel bad about yourself causing you to behave in a way with money that is not empowering.

Too often we equate our value with money. This is another issue I see daily in my coaching with women entrepreneurs.   Your value is priceless. What you charge for your services is based on the value of the results you provide to your client. Shame will affect the rates you charge for your work because if you don’t value yourself, or you feel shame over the debt you have accumulated, it will show in your behavior.

“Self-worth equals net worth.”  Suze Orman

Why? Because how you feel about your finances will impact how you earn, spend, save money and ask for money.

Are you ready to stop suffering from guilt, embarrassment and shame?

The first step is to acknowledge shame

You might avoid looking at your debt and believe it’s better to not look.  However what you resist will persist and grow bigger.  So find out exactly what you owe, how long it will take you to pay it off, and keep track of how you pay it down.

This is actually empowering.  Sure it hurts to look at first but do it!  Then make a plan.

Your mind seeks evidence for anything it believes.

So if you believe you’ll never get out of debt, you will look for “proof” or “evidence.” If you believe, you aren’t good with money, you’ll live this out and look for evidence to back up that belief.

The key is to turn these thoughts to the opposite and find specific proof for how they could be your real truth.

What’s Your Proof?

I will get out of debt (opposite belief) or write down what you are ashamed about and turn it to the opposite. Write down three genuine and specific examples of how this could be as true or truer than the original thought.




Stay focused on this truth and look for more evidence. Notice if you feel better writing down the answers. Using inquiry on your thoughts leads you back to peace.

The next step is to investigate your money story.

  1. What do you believe about your capacity to earn and make money?
  2. Write down at least three defining moments you had with money – both negative and positive. I call defining moments those times when you learned a lesson – you had a challenging experience and you made it mean something – a lesson.
  3. Write down the lesson you took away. An example might be, “I am not good with credit cards” or “I didn’t think about the future, I charged whatever I wanted.”
  4. Then you take that thought (the lesson) if it’s negative and not working for you and turn it to the opposite to find three specific examples of how that could be true or truer than the negative thought or belief.

Forgive yourself

Write down on paper what you did that you are ashamed about, and fold the paper up.  Put it in a bowl and light the paper. Let it go as it burns to ashes. Say outloud – I forgive myself.  I release the past.  Each day is a new opportunity to start fresh.  I did the best I could at the time and now I know better.  When I know better, I do better.  It’s important to forgive yourself and release this shame.

Brene Brown, PhD, says, shame drives two big tapes –“never good enough”and “who do you think you are?” The thing to understand about shame is that it’s not guilt.

Shame is a focus on self. Shame comes from believing you were bad. This is where the “I’m not worthy” belief comes from.

Guilt is a focus on behavior. You believe your actions were a mistake and that you are not bad.

Brene says that empathy is the antidote to shame. Shame grows when you stay silent, you judge yourself harshly for your mistakes and believe you’re bad, and you keep it secret.

How can you begin to be compassionate with yourself?

Find someone you trust and who has earned the right to hear your shameful money story.  You want a compassionate witness.  Sharing your shame with them will allow you to release the emotional hold it has on your life.  You only need someone to listen and not give you advice unless you ask for it.

Underneath Doreen’s belief, “I’ll never get out of debt” was the toxic thought – “I am not worthy.   These thoughts cost us our happiness and they take us out of our game – in life and in work. When you question what you believe, your freedom is waiting. When you find evidence for the opposite of what you believe, it will take you to the place of peace.

Let’s all live in that place.

Did you like this article? Want more like it? Go to and jump on my newsletter list. Share this socially and with your friends.