Have you ever found yourself getting hung up on the things you did wrong in the past? “I always give in to temptation and spend my whole paycheck instead of saving part of it.” Or, “I already blew my budget, so I might as well keep on spending.”
At times, your self-disappointment may grow so strong that you start making assumptions about who you are as a person: “I must be lazy.” Or, “I must not be disciplined enough.”
Regret, guilt, shame, and self-disappointment typically get us nowhere. You cannot change the past. And the past does not define the good money habits you are capable of building in the future.
Your power lies in the present. You can choose to be kind and compassionate to yourself and to interrupt feelings of regret. Here are several things you can do:
(1) Distinguish between a setback and full-blown relapse. A setback is a temporary lapse, while relapse is an ongoing pattern of setbacks. Remind yourself that setbacks are normal and temporary, and you can easily take small steps to get yourself back on track.
(2) Borrow another perspective. After you have given in to temptation, ask yourself two questions: If my best friend were beating herself up for having blown her budget, what would I say to be supportive of her? If my best friend knew that I am beating myself up for having blown my budget, how would she gently encourage me to get refocused on my goal?
(3) Remember the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset understand that setbacks are a normal part of the change process, and they can use them to glean important information about the path to success!
(4) Create a rational response to your irrational thinking. For example, “Just because I blew my budget, it doesn’t mean that I have to continue giving in to temptation. I can be kind and forgiving of myself and gently redirect my attention back to better money management.”
(5) Practice positive self-talk. For example, give yourself a hearty “Good failure, my friend! Failure means that you have taken on a challenge that is worth pursuing and that will be rewarding in the end.”