This toxic mindset can cost you ‘tens of thousands of dollars,’ says psychologist—how to avoid it

We all struggle with our self-worth from time to time. But it can be harmful to let this toxic mindset sit for too long.

As a psychologist of 15 years, I’ve found that when we feel unworthy, we often do things that sabotage our financial plans. Having a strong foundation of self-worth allows us to step into our power at work, earn and keep the money we want, and make wise decisions about our future.

Here are the biggest money mistakes I see people make when they struggle with self-worth:

1. Feeling undeserving of raises and promotions

When you constantly question whether you have anything significant to contribute, you may feel like an imposter. As a result, you try to fly under the radar; you worry that if your boss notices you, they will find out you’re a fraud.

You then stop asking raises and promotions that you deserve, or stop showing up and doing your best at work. This anxiety can cause you to procrastinate, get caught up in perfectionism, or even overwork to the point of burnout.   

Ultimately, not getting those raises and promotions can end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your career.

Self-worth tip: Own your achievements and advocate for yourself. Reflect on your career path and write down the work you did and the skills you developed that helped you earn your accomplishments. Refer to this list whenever you need a confidence boost.

2. Trying to prove your value through material things

We are inundated by advertisements for things that claim to make our lives happier, easier and better.

While spending money on what you want isn’t a bad thing, attempting to feel better about yourself through retail therapy won’t produce lasting feelings of worthiness. It can be easy to overspend in an attempt to fill that void.

This can cause you to disregard your budget and plans, ultimately keeping you from financial stability.

Self-worth tip: Your worth is not dependent on how many things you own. Identify things you can do to help yourself feel better that don’t require spending money. A few examples: calling a friend, taking a walk in the park or making a list of things you’re grateful for. 

3. Making unwise long-term financial investments

When you don’t trust yourself with money, you’re more likely to make costly choices. Many people who feel unworthy of financial security or wealth have this mindset.

It can look like putting all of your money into a risky investment or trusting someone without a proven track record to manage your money. Or you might believe you don’t know how to make the right financial decisions, so you operate from a place of fear and do nothing to grow your wealth.

Self-worth tip: Slow down before you make a major financial decision. Admit what you don’t know and ask for help. Make sure you are not making any decisions in an attempt to prove your value — because you are worthy, no matter what.

Dr. Adia Gooden is a clinical psychologist working with high achieving professional women. She hosts the podcast Unconditionally Worthy and is the author of “4 Practices to Connect to Your Unconditional Self-Worth.” She earned her PhD in clinical community psychology from DePaul University and her BA in psychology from Stanford University. Follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram. 

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