Why Do I Keep Getting Into Debt?

Repeatedly buying things we can't afford can be seen as an attempt to soothe our emotional state and compensate for what's missing in our lives.

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Q - I owe lots on my credit cards and have no way of paying it off. A couple of years ago a close relative helped me out and settled my debts on the promise that I would cut up the cards and never get myself into this mess again. But I have! I can only think it’s because I had very little as a child and we were always ‘watching the pennies’ and I didn’t feel as good as the other girls in my class who had much better stuff than I did. Could this be the reason I’ve got myself into debt again?

A - Yes.

Feeling not as good as our peers is a powerfully shaming experience. One we don’t ever want to repeat - and we will do whatever we can to avoid feeling bad and ashamed like that again.

I’m sure you made that promise last time in good faith and really did ‘think’ you could avoid overspending again. Trouble is your thoughts aren’t what got you into debt and they alone won’t get you out of it.

It’s your emotions – especially the ones driven by your sub-conscious belief system – that will be governing your choices and behaviours.

If possible, speak with your parents about how things were for you as a child growing up with these messages about lack of money, and the contrast between you and your peers.

This isn’t about blaming or shaming your parents – they must have been struggling with their own worries about money. Whether that scarcity was genuine - or only perceived to be the case based upon their own childhood conditioning about what money represents.

Just share how you felt about not being as good as your peers and not having what came so easily to them from their parents.

I doubt that your parents intended to neglect your physical and emotional needs, they probably didn’t realise the extent of the impact upon you.

When they were at school things were very different, and society wasn’t as materialistic, and they probably didn’t even think about comparing themselves with their peers as we do nowadays.

The bottom line is that your inner child is feeling ‘less than’ others and you have been buying her things to make her feel OK and ‘acceptable’.

What you could do instead is to imagine you are her parent and give her non-material things that top up her feelings of value and worth… it’s called self-love.

When you have a better relationship with your inner child – which doesn’t involve you trying to make yourself feel better with retail therapy – then the need for overspending and accruing debt to buy her things will subside.

As for what to do about your current debts - that’s up to you. You can tell your parents or keep it to yourself. Either way you must come up with a plan that you and your inner child WILL stick to.

This might involve getting an extra job a few nights a week to pay off the debts. Do whatever it takes to remove the burden of debt from your mind and allow yourself to feel happier and lighter. 

Your sense of being 'good enough' comes from inside, with self care, compassion and love - it's not dependent upon what you have on the outside.

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR

www.maxineharley.com – where you’ll find a page of FREE RESOURCES that may be of interest to you as you create a healing bond between you and your inner child and learn to meet her emotional needs.

www.maxineharleymentoring.com - helping women to understand and manage their emotions, boundaries and behaviours... to FEEL better, so they can BE, DO and HAVE better in their lives

www.the-ripple-effect.co.uk - a series of 10 individual online self-help workshops - including ones which will help you, called 'Understanding Yourself' and 'How To Be Happier'

www.qpp.uk.com - a new and unique method to improve those aspects of your life that have been determined by unhelpful sub-conscious beliefs - your S.C.R.I.P.T. (c)  (Sub-Conscious-Rules-Influencing-Present-Time)

Maxine Harley