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How can past trauma affect our relationship with money as women entrepreneurs? 


In a recent episode of The Finance Cafe, host Shannon courageously delved into the intricate web of financial trauma with Chantel Chapman, the resilient CEO, and co-founder of The Trauma of Money. This pioneering initiative stands as a beacon, offering accredited courses in trauma-aware approaches to finance, tailor-made for women entrepreneurs. Together, they unearthed the deep emotional complexities interwoven with money, shedding a much-needed light on a topic that society often chooses to overlook.


A Personal Journey to Trauma-Informed Finance


Chantel shared her raw, unfiltered narrative, offering listeners a poignant glimpse into her struggles with money, despite her background in finance. Growing up in poverty, surviving abuse, and navigating societal expectations profoundly influenced her perception of money. This vulnerability humanized the conversation, making it profoundly relatable for listeners and showcasing the immense resilience that can emerge from such challenges.


During her healing journey, Chantel actively sought out various forms of therapy, including trauma therapy and the 12-step program. However, she noticed a significant gap in the mental health space concerning discussions about money. When she brought up money-related issues with her therapist, the advice she received, like relying on willpower, proved ineffective. This realization led her to explore the intersection of mental health and finances further. During her research, she observed a notable absence in both financial psychology and financial therapy fields. They failed to address what she termed “societal trauma” or “systemic trauma.” As a woman, she felt pressured by societal norms to exhibit behaviours like people-pleasing with money, which were detrimental. This recognition underscored the importance of acknowledging and addressing the societal layer in understanding the complex relationship between trauma and money.


Understanding the Trauma-Money Connection


Chantel led the listeners on a profound journey, illuminating the lasting impact of trauma on an individual’s sense of security and self-worth, thereby shaping their relationship with money. By unravelling the emotional underpinnings of financial behaviour, this discussion provided invaluable insights for women entrepreneurs striving to comprehend their financial decisions. It laid bare the fact that money is not just a numerical figure; it is a vessel carrying the weight of our emotional histories.


In her career as a mortgage broker, Chantel witnessed the immense stress and emotional turmoil people experienced when buying homes or securing mortgages, often leading to shut down or fight-or-flight responses. Recognizing the need for financial professionals to understand their clients’ emotional struggles, she developed a program aimed at bridging this gap. Surprisingly, the primary participants turned out to be therapists, who, despite their knowledge of trauma and mental health, struggled to apply their expertise to money-related issues. This discrepancy stemmed from the prevailing notion that money is logical and devoid of emotions, a belief challenged by the program. Over the years, mental health professionals flocked to the training, revealing a significant gap in their education regarding the emotional aspects of finances. The concept of “trauma of money” gained traction in the media, resonating deeply with individuals who felt unseen until they encountered this term. She emphasized how money impacts various aspects of life, including health, housing, and self-perception, underscoring its role in societal divisions between the affluent and the less privileged. This newfound awareness is gradually prompting individuals to confront the emotional complexities intertwined with their financial struggles.


Breaking Societal Taboos: A Call for Open Conversations


The episode, more than just a discussion, was a challenge hurled at societal norms that discourage open discussions about money, especially among women. Shannon and Chantel fervently advocated for normalizing conversations around finances, acknowledging the emotional baggage attached to monetary matters. By encouraging entrepreneurs to confront these issues openly, the conversation served as a powerful catalyst, empowering women to redefine their relationship with money on their terms.


There are many diverse ways societal trauma impacts individuals’ relationships with money, extending beyond gender stereotypes. For women, societal trauma often manifests as people-pleasing behaviours and an inability to advocate for themselves, rooted in societal narratives. Similarly, men experience trauma tied to their worth being directly linked to their earnings and ability to provide, leading to depression if they fall short of this standard. This societal conditioning creates shame, especially in men, making it challenging for them to seek help. The discussion also explores recognizing unresolved money trauma, emphasizing that living in a scarcity-driven culture affects everyone. The conversation highlights the importance of addressing shame, depersonalizing it, and fostering connection to heal and transform individuals’ relationships with money. Furthermore, narrative exploration is crucial, prompting individuals to identify unhelpful behaviours and explore their origins, paving the way for understanding and healing financial traumas.


“I was told by society that all of those behaviours I had around money that were really destructive to me, especially people pleasing with money, those were rewarded in our society.– Chantel Chapman 


Recognizing Trauma in Entrepreneurship


The discussion highlighted how trauma manifests in the world of entrepreneurship, often leading to detrimental patterns such as undercharging, boundary issues, and self-sabotage. Drawing from their banking experiences, both Shannon and Chantel emphasized the urgent need for financial professionals to recognize early warning signs and address the emotional dimensions of money management.


Trauma Defined in the Context of Money


With the intricate relationship between trauma and money, Chantel emphasizes that trauma is essentially a wound inflicted by experiences that leave individuals feeling insecure, unsafe, or unworthy. Money, in society, symbolizes security and self-worth; thus, wounds in these areas naturally lead to challenges in managing finances. Trauma of Money, delves into the concept of financial trauma, often associated with events directly related to money, such as poverty or economic abuse. However, their unique perspective broadens this definition, asserting that any trauma, even if unrelated to money, can profoundly impact one’s financial behaviour. For instance, Chantel shares how her early experiences influenced behaviours like lack of boundaries and shame in her financial decisions. Additionally, generational traumas, such as colonization, can lead to diverse behaviours like money rejection or hoarding. Trauma of Money focuses on understanding the roots of these behaviours, highlighting the importance of asking the question, “What happened to you?” instead of focusing on what is wrong with individuals, thereby fostering a deeper understanding of the complexities of trauma and its impact on financial decisions.


In conclusion, the episode was a rallying cry, urging women entrepreneurs to question societal narratives, depersonalize shame, and embrace their core values. Through this empowering conversation, women were encouraged to embark on a transformative journey toward financial empowerment and healing. By embracing discomfort, confronting societal narratives, and building supportive communities, women can indeed break the silence, shatter the stigma, and embark on this transformative journey towards financial empowerment and healing, hand in hand. Together, they can rewrite the narratives around money, ushering in a new era of understanding, acceptance, and financial freedom.

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