Shame and our relationship with money. . .

By Luna Jaffe

Arianna, an acquaintance, came up to me at an event this weekend and said, “I’ve been avoiding you and your book, and I realize that I’m afraid of you.”

Surprised, I asked, “Why?”

“I’m ashamed of where I am with money… don’t want you to see it, or to know this about me, yet I want to get better with money and I know I’m holding myself back.”



Shame is the feeling that at the core “I am bad,” compared to guilt or embarrassment which is “I did something bad” (a behavior). Interesting distinction. According to Brené Brown, shame is intensely correlated with addiction, whereas guilt is mostly adaptive and helpful, if used well.

Shame is paralyzing. It taunts us with “I’m not good enough” and “I am a bad person.” Shame washes over us and transforms us into a beast not fit for human consumption.

Money arouses shame in so many ways. You can hear it in the way we talk to ourselves. You can hear it when spouses try to discuss their financial struggles. You can hear it when a parent talks disrespectfully to their child who is trying to learn how to make money work.

Arianna took a step that many never will: she named it. This is one of the most significant ways to became resilient in the face of shame. Name your pain.Shame is like a really pissed off toddler that just wants to be heard.

Brené recommends that when you feel shame rise up say out loud
“pain, pain, pain” or “I am feeling shame,” 
and do not text, talk or engage until you have calmed down.

You can journal your feelings, or have an agreement with a friend that when you are in shame you can call them, and download all the feelings until you are spent (and they will listen without comment). Then acknowledge to the people in your life that you got caught in shame, especially if you were attempting to communicate when it came up.

To begin the tender journey to a healthy, vibrant relationship with money you need to own that shame will arise. It’s okay. Your Money shame has valuable clues about the wholeness you seek and the parts of yourself you lost along the way. (Click to Tweet this Wild Money Wisdom)

Brené found that people who have resilience to shame do the following:

1) Use the word shame
2) Recognize it when it arises
3) Know their physical reactions to shame
4) Walk through the shame
5) Come out more courageous on the other side

How has shame around money challenged you? What have you found helps when you get stuck in a shitty shame spiral? Share your comments below.


Luna JaffeLuna Jaffe is an award-winning Certified Financial Planner™, visual artist, psychotherapist and speaker on creativity and personal finance.  She is the CEO of Lunaria Financial in Portland, OR.  She started her first company, LunaSilks, when she was 23 years old, creating high-end wearable art and hand painted silk.  For over a decade she has dedicated herself to helping creatives build wealth personally and within their businesses.  She is the author of Wild Money: A Creative Journey to Financial Wisdom published in 2013 by Fortunity Press.

About the author, Kelly

Kelly Galea is a creative, multi-passionate entrepreneur and luminary blessed with a unique combination of wit, grit, intellect and intuition. She helps you navigate the work-life maze of ever-shifting priorities and transform your life through holistic self-discovery techniques and immersive, fun and magical mini-quests. Working with Kelly will inspire you to unveil, express and celebrate your vital personality and lifestyle preferences to create a more harmonious life.

Leave a Comment