What is Money Dysmorphia?

Default Profile ImageBen O'Connell

Do you ever feel broke, even when your bank account disagrees?

We all know the sting of a dwindling bank balance. But what if the feeling of financial insecurity lingers, even when the numbers tell a different story? You could be experiencing money dysmorphia.

Money dysmorphia is a term used to describe a situation where someone has a distorted view of their financial situation. There are two ways it manifests.

The first is when people feel poor despite having a decent income.

People with this kind of money dysmorphia might constantly worry about running out of money, even if they have a good savings account and are financially stable.

You might never feel financially secure even with a healthy bank account and a steady income.

Every purchase, even for necessities, triggers anxiety and a nagging worry that you’ll be left with nothing.

This fear can lead to excessive frugality, where you deprive yourself of things you can actually afford.

You might become secretive about your finances, fearing judgment if people knew your actual financial situation.

Social activities and events can become stressful because of their perceived cost, leading to missed opportunities you might otherwise enjoy.

On the other hand, sometimes people constantly have a need to spend to feel good.

People with money dysmorphia may tie their self-worth to their net worth.

They may compulsively spend money on things they don’t need or can’t afford to maintain a certain lifestyle or image.

Maintaining a particular lifestyle or keeping up with appearances might become an obsession, prompting you to live beyond your means and rack up credit card bills.

Shame and guilt often follow these spending sprees, leading you to hide your habits from loved ones.

In both cases, money dysmorphia can lead to a lot of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy financial habits.

It’s important to note that money dysmorphia is not an official clinical diagnosis.

However, it can be a very real problem for many people.

You might feel like your relationship with money is completely out of control, leading to impulsive financial decisions based on emotions rather than sound planning.

If you think you might be struggling with money dysmorphia, there are steps you can take to improve your relationship with money.

What Causes Money Dysmorphia?

The exact causes of money dysmorphia are still being explored, but experts believe it’s a mix of factors.

Growing up in poverty or experiencing financial instability during your formative years can leave a lasting impact.

The constant worry about money in your childhood might translate into an ingrained fear of running out of money as an adult, even if your financial situation is secure.

We’re constantly bombarded with messages that equate wealth with success and happiness.

This relentless pressure can create a distorted view of money’s role in one’s life and fuel feelings of inadequacy if one doesn’t measure up to that ideal.

Social media feeds are often carefully curated highlight reels showcasing extravagant lifestyles that can be misleading.

Constantly comparing yourself to these unrealistic portrayals can exacerbate money dysmorphia, making you feel like you’ll never have enough.

Your family’s attitudes toward money can also play a role. If your parents argue about money or have a scarcity mindset, you might inherit those anxieties.

On the other hand, if you grew up in a wealthy family, you might feel pressure to maintain a certain lifestyle or fear disappointing your parents by not achieving financial success.

It’s important to remember that money dysmorphia isn’t just about your current financial situation. It’s about the complex web of experiences, messages, and beliefs that shape how you think about and interact with money.

Overcoming Money Dysmorphia

Overcoming money dysmorphia requires a shift in perspective and practical steps to build a healthy relationship with money.

Start by reflecting on your inner voice regarding money. What stories do you tell yourself? Are they realistic or based on fear and scarcity?

Challenge these negative beliefs and replace them with empowering affirmations that focus on your ability to manage your finances effectively.

Instead of dwelling on what you lack, practice gratitude for the financial resources you do have. This shift in focus can help reduce anxiety and cultivate a more positive outlook on your financial future.

Reclaiming Financial Control

It’s time to take control of your finances!

Awareness is key. Track your income and expenses for a month to understand where your money goes.

This can be a real eye-opener and help you identify areas where you can cut back or save more strategically.

Once you understand your spending habits, create a realistic budget that allocates your income towards essential expenses, savings goals, and some fun money.

Sticking to a budget empowers you to make conscious choices about your finances.

Don’t chase unrealistic ideas of wealth. Set achievable financial goals that align with your values and priorities.

Reaching these milestones will boost your confidence and motivate you to stay on track.

Talk to the Professionals

A financial therapist can be a valuable resource. They can help you identify the root causes of your money dysmorphia and develop strategies to manage your finances effectively.

If you’re struggling with debt, consider seeking help from a credit counsellor or debt management company. They can help you create a plan to get out of debt and improve your overall financial health.

Social Media’s Impact

Note! Be mindful of who you follow on social media. Limit exposure to accounts that trigger feelings of inadequacy or promote unrealistic spending habits.

Social media feeds often focus on material possessions. Instead, shift your focus towards experiences and building a fulfilling life rather than chasing a materialistic ideal.

Remember, overcoming money dysmorphia is a journey, not a destination.

There will be setbacks along the way, but with self-awareness, practical tools, and a commitment to change, you can build a healthier relationship with money and achieve financial peace of mind.