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The Financial Whisperer® Newsletter: Breaking Out Of Your Glass Prison

The Financial Whisperer®
Start Untangling Your Emotions From Your $$$

As I shared with all of you last month, the fear of the approaching emotional tsunami came, and with it surprising elements that kept re-affirming that everything would all turn out okay, just to be patient and trust the unseen; a tall order when at times I felt as if I was going over the falls...without the barrel.

Those events have forced me to look at a personal condition that has plagued me my entire life...and haunts so many people that I know who can't even put words to that specific feeling and the emotion underlying it.

This month I am going to talk about ISOLATION: What is it?  When does it appear?  How does it relate to money?

Isolation is like a glass prison; people see you but cannot hear you. Your needs and desires go unheard and unmet. Does this sound like your childhood?  Were your needs ignored?  

As an adult now, do you have difficulty asking in a direct way to get your needs met?

Isolation is a lack of attachment. How we truly feel gets buried underneath our fears, separating us from us, like being on two tracks.  It is a 'room' we retreat to when we are in pain, when we feel lost and disconnected.  It echoes our childhood when we felt invisible.  It is self-imposed for protection, developed when we were children, as a reaction to not being bonded to our mothers or siblings.

The biggest fear we all have is to discover we are unlovable by our parents, unaccepted by our siblings. After all, if our parents reject us, who would want us?

It is our need to connect with others that unlocks the door to feeling isolated. Unconsciously as that operates at times, we don't realize how isolated we feel until we have contact with another human. And it can be a stranger at the supermarket.  Someone who acknowledges we even exist looks at us in the eye and smiles at us. Those tiny moments pull us into the present and away from the isolation monster. For no apparent reason, we suddenly feel better.  But there is a very clear explanation.  We do exist, we are good, and we do matter.

Dr. Sue Johnson, the Canadian author of HOLD ME TIGHT, describes primal attachment as "the human hunger to find a safe emotional connection." That need then controls our choices, good or bad. We sometimes look back, as I have done with jobs, former husbands, former friends, and ask myself: "What was I thinking?"  Were my needs so disguised that I could not evaluate clearly what was best for me?  Apparently so, which accounts for why I ended up with huge debts in my 50's.  Something else was driving my bus; something else had control over me.

A new client came to me.  A shopaholic, she spent money in an attempt to fill the void she felt in her life.  As a child, when she got angry, her feelings were ignored, which made her more frustrated.  Her parents' response was to send her to her room to vent on her own, never asking her why she was angry or addressing her feelings in an open way.  Never giving her their full attention and patience or showing her a willingness to listen.

The message she received was: your feelings are not acceptable.  And the punishment was isolation; no one wants to be around you.     But if her parents had shown her, by being present and patient, that her feelings were important and they were going to talk her through it, teach her that her feelings and behavior are not the same, she would have begun to understand the difference. Parents need not be afraid of their child's anger.  They need to give their child their presence and patience.  "Attention is the most basic form of love," says Susan Piver.  Feelings are the basis of their identity. How adults and older siblings manage those moments speaks volumes about a child's sense of self-worth.

My client's profound sense of not being attached led her to attempt to fill the void with shopping.

How do isolation and one's finances impact each other? Mood and money: Some people, when they feel alone, go shopping to fill the void. Some hit the gaming tables or have a drink. Some go to the gym and work out until they are exhausted. When we run away from those feelings, we never help ourselves heal; the constant avoidance of our sadness and emptiness reinforces that our lives are on two tracks.

Being in a romantic relationship does not guarantee intimacy, working in an environment with others does not ensure closeness, and living with roommates does not automatically provide bonding.  It is our challenge to make those bridges with strangers to create healthy relationships that keep the monsters of isolation away; to bring close that which scares us and coaxes our fears out of the shadows so that we can be present and visible and valued for who we are: lovable.

Thoreau said: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."