Dealing with financial trauma is rough, particularly during the holiday season. In a culture that is sometimes obsessed with Black excellence and success, there doesn’t seem to be much space reserved for dealing with unexpected real-life financial challenges. Brenda Lane Richardson and Dr. Brenda Wade’s book, What Mama Couldn’t Tell Us About Love: Healing the Emotional Legacy of Racism by Celebrating Our Light, focuses on believing in abundance.
Chapter 3 starts out by diving into the emotional legacy of lack that has been strategically inflicted onto Black people in colonized lands. The chapter ends with a spectacular journaling ritual to begin reckoning with those hidden emotions. One of the ways that Black communities can manage financial trauma is by having a mindset grounded in abundance. For many people, the global pandemic has created financial trauma, which can feel magnified during the season of giving. Here are five mental health tips to manage financial trauma during the holidays.
Buddhists meditate to still the mind and reach nirvana. People who do transcendental meditation do so to empty and focus their minds. Meditation can also be a time to conjure solutions. Meditation can be whatever you want it to be. If financial insecurity has your mind spinning, you can go for a meditative walk without music or distraction. Focus on each step you take and breathe and walk with your thoughts. Whatever style you choose, taking time with the mind gives us the space to work out the anxiety of financial insecurity.
The actual purpose of yoga is to move the body in order to be in the present moment to still the mind. Free online classes have made yoga accessible, and you can also download yoga class apps on your phone so that you can roll out of bed and into a yoga class in your pajamas. According to studies done at The Mayo Clinic, yoga has been proven to relieve stress and focus the mind for centuries. Taking the time to physically move the body distracts the mind from spinning into the cycle of doubt and worry.
Mantras are traditionally used in Buddhism and Hinduism and are words or phrases said in repetition during meditation. Tina Turner made the Nam-myoho-renge-Kyo chant visible as she shared her journey to liberation. Here in the 21st century, many other Black performing artists who have firm spiritual practices are creating music that includes mantras in English that Westerners can listen to on Spotify while doing yoga, running, or going for that meditative walk in the park.
On Spotify, Toni Jones, a Detroit-based wellness practitioner, creates mantras for her private clients. The mantras became so popular that Jones decided to use music to share her message. During Women’s History month, on March 19, 2020, Jones launched Affirmations for The Grown A** Woman. In May 2020, she launched Affirmations and Chill.
Dealing with financial trauma is lonely. When it comes to sharing economic challenges with friends, there’s a stigma attached. It’s almost as if financial challenges are contagious so we don’t usually talk about them with friends or extended family. So many of us suffer in silence, beat ourselves up, or blame ourselves for not being enough. My worries around finances had been coming up right before I go to bed and first thing in the morning when I wake up. But for the past month, the first thing I’ve been doing in the morning instead is turn on a Toni Jones mantra and listen as I make the bed and do some yoga. Her voice and message’s positivity helps me shake off the doubt and fear and believe in my “yes I can.” From that mindset, anything is possible.
Talk It Out
None of us can get away from having to deal with money. We need money to live in our society, so when we find ourselves continuously unable to deal with our finances, there may be a deeper issue at hand. When it’s time to talk about our money, find a therapist.
Financial therapy deals with the underlying circumstances regarding how we spend our money. There are so many different kinds of therapists and therapy methods that can help folks included in most health insurance plans. If you don’t have access to health insurance, check out Therapy Without Insurance and The Loveland Foundation, which offer guidance in finding a therapist. When we can work out our financial trauma with a trained professional, we can be more present with friends and family.
Each of us has a unique relationship with money created in our families of origin. Christine Platt’s book The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less dives deep into looking into how adult caregivers imprint their spending habits on family members. These patterns could lead to future spending and consumption habits that affect not only the personal relationship with money but also relationships with other people and even the impact on our global environment. The bottom line is that we don’t have to deal with our financial challenges on our own. We can give ourselves permission to create systems to process financial trauma when it lands on us, even during the holidays.
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Jeanine is a Writer, Actor, member SAG/AFTRA, AEA, Podcast host, Producer, CEO VisAbleBlackWoman Productions, Certified Health Coach and Conscious Dance facilitator. Jeanine's mission, centering Black women's stories to preserve our legacies.