Are you somebody who continuously goes over budget on your Christmas shopping? Have you ever paused to consider why?
Well, the surprising culprit may well be your self-esteem. I know, I know, the last thing you’re consciously thinking about is your self worth in the frantic busy-doing-everything! But that is precisely the point — if you were conscious of it, you probably wouldn’t be doing it, or at least, you wouldn’t be doing as much of it. So what exactly is going on here?
Despite the old cliché “it’s the thought that counts!”, many people often feel the thought has to come with a satisfactory price tag attached. What that price is will vary from person to person. Try this out: think of a person you need to buy a gift for. Got it? Ok, now I bet you have a figure in your head about the minimum you feel like you need to spend on them. Am I right?
So what happens if you think about not spending that much money on this particular person? Try it for yourself and see! Now we’re getting to the meat of the matter, because for all the ‘shoulds’ you impose on yourself there is a story attached. As humans we make sense of the world through stories. Most of the time we don’t even realise we’re doing it. The story is the meaning we attach to actions, thoughts and feelings. So what is the story behind how much you feel you should spend on people, on Christmas lunch, on making the house beautiful?
Some of the common stories that lead us to overspending are If I don’t spend this much I’ll be a lousy friend/parent/partner/child and if I don’t spend this money I will look like I don’t have everything under control or even if I don’t spend this money that makes me a Scrooge. And the belief that fuels all these things is that you are not enough.
Can you see now how self-esteem can hijack your spending habits, especially at Christmas time when there is so much emphasis placed on gift giving and luxury and exuberance? The question, of course, is what can you do about it?
The good news is that you’ve already improved the situation by reading this blog post! Even just the act of first becoming aware of the issue will start to change the way you think about your Christmas spending. Your thoughts, feelings and actions are intimately entwined. This means that when you can just one of these three, the other two are impacted. So, begin to change your thoughts about something, and it has a knock on effect on how you feel about it too, which will in turn influence how you actually act. If reading this blog post was the first step to doing something about your overspending at Christmas, what are the next steps?
Absolutely work out your budget, if you haven’t done that, but that isn’t really the part I can help you with. My speciality is self esteem and fear, so we’re going to focus solely on the emotional side of overspending rather than the financial (there are already loads of great resources on the market to help you with finance and budgeting).
The process is very simple. Firstly you uncover the story, which we already covered. Next you work on changing the story. You can begin to do this by reality testing your beliefs. Ask yourself how true your thoughts and beliefs really are? The chances are that you will discover that most of your beliefs are not actually based in reason or reality, at which point you can consciously decide to create a new story — one that is far more helpful! And then?
Then you rinse and repeat. This isn’t a quick fix, miracle cure. Funky negative beliefs will still keep popping up and you will need to keep reaffirming your new story at the same time as dispelling those old beliefs. The more you practise, the easier it gets to spot those negative beliefs when they sneak in!
To help you start to work through this process you can download my completely free Inner Critic Workbook. You’ll find help to identify what’s triggering you, when it happens and what you can do about it. Grab it HERE.
Originally published at medium.com