Trauma.  We all go through it at various times in our lives.  It can totally affect how we think, feel and relate to money.  In fact, some trauma’s are caused by money, or the lack of it.

I recently experienced a physical trauma.  I was choking and called 911 for assistance.  While I had a good outcome for which I am extremely grateful, I still felt a lot of trauma.  During and after.

The entire night after the incident occurred, as soon as my body relaxed, I would come jarringly awake feeling like I couldn’t breathe.  I was choking all over again.  My body kept going into fight or flight mode and released adrenaline and other hormones. 

As I laid there in bed not sleeping, my mind immediately went to other traumatic events in my life.  It was almost like my body remembered, so my mind did too.  

One of those memories was one that I feel a lot of people are facing right now as a consequence of Covid-19; and possibly many more will face as we continue to navigate through all this.  And that is the loss or impending loss of income due to layoff.

Just a year or two into my accounting career, the company I worked for sold.  Fortunately for me, the new company decided to keep all the employees.  So, I knew from the beginning I’d still have a job.  But a few years later, the new company decided they wanted to centralize accounting.  They had purchased several local insurance companies and were now a regional health insurance company.  They thought that combining finance departments would save a lot of cash.  My entire department in WV was eliminated.

I immediately went into complete fight or flight mode.  And for me at that time, was meltdown mode.  There were lots of tears, panic, sleepless nights and stress eating.  I couldn’t see anything in front of me except that I was losing my monthly income.

I’ve shared with you how I started my money mindset journey when I was just 15 years old.  Here I was years later, completely forgetting who I was with money.

  • I forgot that I figured out how to get the money to pay for my own braces at 15.  
  • I forgot that I had savings.
  • I forgot that I didn’t have tons of debt and the debt I did have wasn’t huge (student loans and a car).
  • I forgot that I’m actually really good with money.
  • I forgot that I was a smart, educated, capable woman. 

Instead of these things, I saw a big fat UNKNOWN.  That is what trauma often does to us.  Not only because of the physical changes to our body with lots of crazy hormones running through it, but also because of the mental and emotional toll of something unknown happening to us.

If that same thing happened to me right at this moment, I like to think that I’d handle it better than I did then.  But the truth is, we just don’t know how our body, mind and emotions will respond to trauma.

The important thing to remember is that we are stronger and more resilient than we often give ourselves credit for.  Yes, there can often be long-term after effects to trauma.  Those are real and I don’t discredit them.  

All I can do is tell you that it is possible to overcome trauma and share with you the things I find helpful.  If you are facing layoff, these might help you too.

1 – Take an action step.  When I lost my job, the first action that I took that started to get me back on an even keel was updating my resume.  Even doing something as simple as this can help open you up to the possibility before you.  Seeing that there IS possibility will get you excited about that unknown in a good way.  It doesn’t have to be some big, earth shattering action.  Just one small action step, which puts you right back in the driver’s seat.

2 – Express what you are feeling.  When we are going through something like a layoff, we often keep everything locked inside.  It not only can be scary because of the financial unknowns, but it can also trigger us to feel shamed or even unworthy.  The important thing is to let that stuff out.  Feel what you are feeling and find someone you trust to share it with.  That may be a friend, but it also could be a trained professional.  Either way, out is better than in.

3 – Create space for the unknowns.  We go through life with a series of habits.  The familiar.  The patterns that make us feel safe and secure.  When we face a trauma, those patterns and familiar places are interrupted.  I find it super important to create space to hold whatever is coming.  It’s like when you purge your closet and end up with lots of space.  That gives you the opportunity to simply leave the space empty, or to fill it up with new clothes.  But the big thing here is choice.  Once you’ve created the space, you get the power of decision on what you get to do with it.

4 – Don’t forget to laugh.  For me humor is one of the best releases after I’ve been through a trauma.  Being able to laugh about it and see the humor in the situation immediately releases some of that residual trauma.  I shared my choking story with my book club and I peppered it with all the humorous things I could.  One friend said, “I’m so sorry that happened, and I’m glad you are ok, but I really want to laugh right now.”  I told her that was totally ok.  I wanted her to laugh and even if things hadn’t gone so well, I’d want to be able to laugh at myself and with other people.

No matter what you are feeling in your traumatic experience, take some time for yourself and allow your body, mind and spirit to process.  Even if you’ve lost your job and money feels really scary right now, money is still available for you.  You just have to be ready and looking for it and these four tips will help get you ready, because feeling positive is the first step to attracting what you want.  Try a couple out then comment below and let me know what you think.

Sherry Parks is a Money Mindset Coach who helps women escape feeling stuck and trapped by their finances, so that they find more joy and wealth for their lives. Check out her 5 Steps to a Better Money Story workbook here. Here’s what people are saying about the workbook. “I am amazed how much insight I got after completing the workbook, I [became] aware of so much!” — Nicole E. “Your workbook is great; I already feel calmer and more in control of my relationship with money!” — Nancy R.

To connect with Sherry, join her women-only Facebook group Lives in Balance.