Do you struggle with your relationship with money? Maybe you get too anxious around handling money or feel you don’t deserve the money you have earned. But if you think about it, it might get difficult to figure out why you have this problematic relationship with money.

Dr. Gaurav Deka, Trauma Resolution Expert and Psychotherapist, shares that our negative thoughts with money could be rooted in trauma, or in simpler terms, negative childhood experiences.

Dr. Deka explains that we don’t have a transactional relationship with money. Instead, we have an emotional relationship. This is because “when we are growing up as children, money becomes a part of our emotional landscape much before our rational brain starts functioning. So, we end up having a more emotional relationship with money.”

This is why we start attaching emotions like happiness, sadness, guilt, fear, anger, anguish and shame, with money. Here are some examples how this attachment of emotions complicates our perspective of money.

Guilt with money

Dr. Deka shares that for those who feel guilty asking for even the money that they deserve, the root of their guilt could be in their childhood experiences.

For example, when a child is told multiple times that “you don’t deserve this”, “you don’t deserve that”, “you need to do more in order to get this.”

If the child accepts and believes these statements, they may grow up as adults who feel guilty when they are given something or even when they have to ask for something that they truly deserve.

Fear with money

The feeling of fear with money – such as the feeling that you may be left with no money if you spend what you have right now – can also be rooted in childhood.

This may come from observing your family members such as your grandparents or parental behaviour who were always talking or showing the “scarcity mindset” in which they kept showing that they didn’t have enough and that there is never going to be enough, even if they have a lot of money at present. What’s more, the scarcity mindset is inheritable – which means you can inherit it from your parents.

How can I resolve these issues with money?

In order to resolve these dysfunctional and negative experiences with money, Dr. Deka shares two important questions to ask:

1. Find out what emotion you have attached to your money. “You have to identify what is the worst thing that can happen to you with money,” he explains. Write down that emotion – whether it’s guilt, anger, fear — whatever it is.

2. Who in my life did I learn this from? Whether it’s your grandma, grandpa, mother, father, sibling…once you realise from whom you picked this idea from, “you will be able to realise that most of your feelings around money are not even yours to begin with.”