Financial Strategy
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Financial Strategy

Did You Know You Can Become Addicted to Trauma?

Let me tell you why this matters in your personal finances.

Photo by Alex Green:


When something traumatic happens to you it can be very easy to revisit that experience in your mind as you comb over details and what if scenarios.

The problem with this is that your brain doesn’t distinguish between it actually happening and you reliving it in your mind. As you remember that trauma you experience it again chemically by way of emotions.

Those chemicals tell you to fight or flight. It constantly puts you in a survival state. Would you say you are thinking the most rationally in that state?

Absolutely not.

Learning to Cope

You might develop a habit in that state that says this is a means to an end. You feel:

  • Sad
  • Hurt
  • Angry
  • Scared

Experiencing those feeling, you may decide you need to do something to cope so you splurge on things you don’t really need (retail therapy).

Now that you’ve made yourself feel good by coping, you’ve created a feedback loop. You’ve never addressed the trauma so now when you feel trauma you what?

Repeat the process.

Poverty a Trauma Source?

Your trauma can also be tied into your economic status. If you’re experiencing poverty you NEED to make decisions to survive.

  • You buy ramen because it’s affordable
  • You stash money because you never know what can happen
  • You’re afraid to lose what you have because it’s all you’ve got

You’re stuck.

Our bodies weren’t designed to withstand long term trauma.

Let me repeat that.

Our bodies weren’t designed to withstand long term trauma.

Poverty is more than a lack of money, it’s a wretched state of being. Poverty is a traumatic experience that impacts how we view, believe, use, and grow money.

Having anxiety, fear, or guilt as a result of long term financial trauma is normal but staying there can be considered an addiction. Why can’t you budget, or save, or invest?

Because you’re addicted to trauma.

Lifestyle Creep

Even as your financial situation changes, the effect of previous trauma can be lasting, because you’ve learned how to operate in that trauma.

Now you might feel anxious you have money instead of because you don’t. You feel guilty spending or investing because “it can go to better things”, etc.

The problem is that now you just make more money but repeat similar patterns and behaviors because you haven’t moved away from your trauma.

Financial literacy doesn’t fix this.

Financial empowerment does.

This is why I say money management is mindset management.

What to Do

Work with a financial professional to help you identify trauma and address them. Those professionals may include:

  • Financial psychologists or therapists
  • Financial coaches
  • Certified financial planners

You can also do a self audit of your beliefs and behaviors related to money by reviewing your budget and statements, and asking yourself:

  • Where do you spend more of your money?
  • Where do you keep excess money?
  • Do you have a bank account?
  • Do you use a credit card?

Once you identify patterns, you can take steps to break those patterns and replace them with good ones.

One of the professionals listed above, a family member, or a friend can help keep you accountable.

Overcoming trauma is not an overnight fix but it is something you can work on every night to improve how you interact with money and what you believe about money.


This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered financial, investment, business, tax, legal, or mental health advice. You should consult a relevant professional before making any major decisions.



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Rahkim Sabree

Rahkim Sabree

I’m an author/columnist, speaker, & coach. I’ve written for some of your favorite publications and decided why not start my own. All social media @rahkimsabree