Updated: May 4
My journey into mental health
If you have made your way to this website, you’ve seen that I am a Certified Financial Planner™, and have been for some time. What you may not know is that I am also in the process of becoming a mental health counselor. Over the last 15 years in the financial industry, I learned that when clients come to me for financial planning, they are also bringing their baggage that is full of insecurity, low self-esteem, pressure to be and do better, and sometimes trauma. How do you know when financial planning isn’t enough and a therapist is needed too?
Step 1: Admit that emotions play a role.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Money isn’t emotional?” I have, and well… I beg to differ. While your dollar bill won’t smile at you when you pull it out of your wallet, that dollar bill sure makes you feel something. I know I feel more confident holding $100 versus $10.
The truth is that money is the gatekeeper of choices. If a person doesn’t have enough money, they will not have the freedom to choose where they live, the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the schools they or their children attend… The list goes on. But even if you have enough money to make choices about the basic needs in life like food, shelter, and safety, but, emotion still plays a role. What if you can’t afford to take a vacation or buy a car that won’t break down? Sometimes, feelings of inadequacy come up and prompt you to spend money in other ways to placate these feelings. Can you think of a time when you spent money on something that temporarily helped you feel better?
Step 2: Don't suppress the feelings.
So many people tell me that they shove feelings aside, planning to, “deal with them later.” Guess what? Later never comes. Then, those feelings that were never given space to exist come out in other ways. We snap at friends and family members. We feel irritable. We feel tired and don’t know why. Our culture of, “Buck up and work harder,” just isn’t healthy. Making space to feel your feelings when they arise ultimately helps you return to your baseline faster and helps you maintain the ability to make logical, deliberate decisions rather than react to stressors. Take a moment to reflect on the last time you felt irritable and didn’t know why.
Step 3: Know when to talk to a therapist.
How do you know when you need a therapist? Here are just a few signs to watch out for:
Loss of pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed.
Unexplained physical symptoms (ex. chronic pain and/or headaches, gastrointestinal issues) that are not attributed to substance use or a diagnosed medical condition.
Insomnia or oversleeping
Feelings of shame or worthlessness
Anxiety that impacts your ability to function at home or at work.
You are not alone!
I have worked with so many people over the years that let their emotions take over their financial decisions because they aren’t dealing with what is coming up. If you are struggling with difficult emotions and need someone to talk to, please schedule a complimentary consultation. There is never a bad time to ask for help.
All my best,
Christina Gatteri, CFP
Certified Financial Planner
Warwick, Rhode Island 02886