In December, I asked my good friend, John Dulworth, if he’d share his personal story of how he’s handling the gremlins of debt. It was pretty darn brave of him to say, “Yes.” It’s one thing to share his story with me, and quite another to really put it out there for a few thousand!

But in January, he graciously did just that – revealing the many dimensions of debt that you can certainly relate to if you have (or have ever had) debt. Especially if it is/was accompanied by feelings of shame and overwhelm.

Today, I’m excited to present John’s follow-up — this time he talks about what I like to describe as the tools that will break the bond between debt and shame. Read on if you have debt and if you don’t then share the link to this post with someone you know who does…

In John’s Words

In this my second part of my two-part series on the connection between debt and shame, I want to dive into a few specific tools you can use that will help to break their bond.

Last time, I used my personal story as a way to illustrate how when you and I don’t consistently address the limiting beliefs we hold about money, we doom ourselves to acting in accordance with those beliefs. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, effectively opening the door for shame to come in and shape the future actions you and I take.

In my case, as in so many, it was my actions that created the debt – choices that were based on a set of limiting beliefs I held about money and me. Ironically, my actions and beliefs – about my situation and myself – kept me locked into the very situation I wanted to shift.

It’s like this: shame is to bad habits like gasoline is to a car.

And where debt is concerned, shame – the negative judgments and decisions you and I make based on our circumstances – serves as a kind of super-fuel that more often than not sabotages our efforts to get out of debt.

Let me not paint a broad-brush picture…I made certain choices that resulted in my debt. But there are definitely folks who find themselves in debt not because they did anything “wrong” but because something completely unforeseen happened.

However we get there (debt by choice or by default), most of us have strong beliefs about debt and what it means about the person who is in it. And let’s just say, those beliefs aren’t very uplifting or liberating. More often than not beliefs about debt are shame based.

The Irony of Shame

It is worth mentioning that shame in and of itself is not a bad thing. Shame can be a helpful tool that brings our awareness to something we’ve done that is out of integrity with who we intend to be. It’s when shame reaches toxic levels that it becomes a problem.

When we’re feeling overly shameful about something, we feel badly about ourselves. We think we’re broken. We can even feel things like disdain and disgust. And in that emotional state, we are cut off; cut off from our inspiration, creativity and resourcefulness to find our way out of the mess we’re in.

Toxic levels of shame can be like a corrosive element that separates us from the very parts of ourselves needed to remedy our situation.

So what’s a guy or gal to do? When we’re in a shame spiral about our debt, how can we reconnect to that invigorating, superhero part of ourselves that is so essential to climbing out of the hole we’re in?

Tools That Break the Bond

Here are four tips that can reconnect you to your superhero self:

1. There’s magic in action.
Think of individual actions as having energy and magic in them. When you take action, you release that energy into your experience. Actions that address your debt are filled with the kind of energy that when used consistently, will dilute and eventually eradicate the shame you’re feeling.

2. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
As yucky as shame can feel, it can become a comfortable place to live – like being tucked away in a dark cave. Moving out of that dark cave of shame and into the light can feel awkward and sometimes even painful (Dang! It’s SO bright out here!). This discomfort is OK! It’s proof you’re moving out of your zone of comfort. Make this awkward feeling your friend and you’re on your way to a new experience for yourself.

3. This next one is a mash-up of two terrific tools: Fears belong on paper, not in your heart or mind and Write it down and make it happen.
Put your limiting beliefs (fears) about money or your debt on paper. I like to believe that our fears really just want to be acknowledged. Somehow just by putting them down on paper – their impact on us is lessened. Until we see them in black and white, they have a tendency to haunt us like a ghost that is moving through the recesses of our mind.

Once you have them on paper – with each fear, create a believable and sincere opposite. This is key. Don’t create one that is too hard to believe. This is not about magical thinking or affirmations. It’s about building through your actions to new beliefs that will sustain you.

  • “I suck at handling money.” might become “Through my actions, I am getting better at handling money every day.”
  • “I’ll never pay down this debt.” might become “I’m excited and committed to figuring out a plan of action that I can commit to to take care of my debt.”

After you’ve written down your fear beliefs and created their opposites, then list three actions for each new belief that when taken will serve as evidence to prove that new belief. “Evidence” is the key word here. All beliefs need evidence.

4. Get support. ‘Nuf said. Find a buddy to help you, hire a coach or read a book. Please. Do yourself this favor. It really is hard enough without it.


About our guest blogger: John Dulworth is a Transformational Coach living in Manhattan, New York. As a coach, John blends the best of his professional life with his personal journey. He has a natural, fun and comfortable approach that respects the wisdom of the individual and the richness of each life. Clients who engage in John’s process will know fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced decision making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence as they move through their world. They can also expect to see appreciable results in the areas of productivity, personal satisfaction with life and work as well as the achievement of personally relevant goals. To learn more about John, click here.

p.s. As usual, John nailed it! He provided four (4) accessible tools you can use individually or collectively to break the bond between shame and debt. Here’s another: the replay link from last night’s webinar, “Is Stress Blocking Your Wealth?” – my guest was Colette Ellis.

p.p.s. mark your calendar for the next webinar on April 2nd – “Do You Have the Mindset to Be Debt-Free?” My guest expert is Mindy Crary, CFP and conscious-money coach. Registration details coming soon.

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