Phyllis Shallman – Financial Relapses

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Oops. You did it again.

Maybe you used the credit card to buy something you didn’t really need, even though you’ve sworn it off time and time again.

Maybe you found yourself clicking checkout, even though you promised to stop online shopping.

Or maybe you just found yourself discouraged by the number in your bank account… again.

Either way, you’ve had a financial relapse—you did something to set back progress with your goals, even though you knew better.

It sucks. It’s enough to make you throw up your hands and quit.

But here’s the truth—it’s part of the process.

Research suggests that there are six steps to changing behavior…

Pre-contemplation Contemplation Preparation Action Maintenance Relapse

Why is relapse the final step? Because it’s an opportunity. It reveals the limitations in your strategy, unnoticed behavior triggers, and above all, new areas for growth.

This is good to acknowledge, but it’s a far cry from how relapses make you feel. They feel like proof positive that you’ll never change, that you didn’t change. You fell back into your old behaviors.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that relapses merely point you to deeper truths about yourself… and what you’re capable of.

So next time you feel down about a hard-to-break financial habit, give yourself some grace. Examine what happened, and integrate what you learn into your strategy.

Consider meeting with a financial professional to chat things through. They can help you process what happened, refocus on your goals, and create a strategy to prevent future relapses.

And if you feel like you’re stuck in harmful financial habits that you can’t break, book a meeting with a licensed and qualified mental health professional. They can help you identify patterns, understand their origins, and develop steps for change.

¹ “Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change Model for Social Workers,” Yeshiva University, May 11, 2021, https://online.yu.edu/wurzweiler/blog/prochaska-and-diclementes-stages-of-change-model-for-social-workers

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