Wellness Wednesday: Financial Health and Decolonial Self-Love
By Rebekah Elkerton
It’s Boxing Week and essentially everywhere we look in the digital space is bombarded with advertisements. Whether consciously or not, consumer society impacts our wholistic wellbeing. Personal financial wellness is essential for staying mentally afloat, spiritually thriving, physically well, and intune with ourselves. When we check in with our habits around money, we can better understand the path we’re forging for the future and where we’re serving or failing ourselves.
As Indigenous people, colonial thinking and structural assimilation tactics have fractured our relationship with the future. Traditional teachings direct us to think about how our actions impact the 7 generations ahead and their access to health. Unfortunately Indigenous families have largely lived in survival mode against imposed colonial systems for many generations now. Living in survival mode keeps people in the now, making it hard to envision a prosperous and secure future.The Indian Act in Canada has limited the ways First Nations people have been able to access money, financial opportunities, and personal assets.This has meant that Indigenous people have largely been excluded from systems of generational wealth and the language of savings and investments in our homes. Without knowledge of financial systems and close-to-home examples of financial well-being many of us are without a foundation of healthy financial habits and financial literacy.
At one point or another most of us have felt money-related stress. Maybe it’s impacted our sleep, access to healthy food and shelter, or ability to connect with others socially. Money has major impacts on our wholistic well-being and often how we see ourselves. Poor self-image can feed poor financial habits, especially with the barrage of consumerism present in our society. Frequent spending on wanted items over basic needs has been normalized. We’ve been trained to think that acquiring new things can bring on lasting happiness and so spending is regarded as an avenue leading toward feelings of respect, self-esteem and achievement. This path however is not sustainable and hinders opportunities for growth.
When we set personal goals we undo the cycle of living in survival mode and limiting ourselves to immediate gratification. Eliminating unhealthy money habits like overspending and under-saving is key to redirecting our lives to a heightened state of overall health. We have the power to align our lives toward financial stability and wealth. It takes courage to put new habits into practice because it feels safe to stick with what we know but when what we know doesn't reward us in the long-term or support our overall health something needs to change.
In many circles talking about finances is considered taboo but this way of thinking is a barrier to individual and collective well-being. When we come together and share how we manage our money we can learn from one another to build healthier habits to step into new financial realms. As Indigenous people we must recognize that the social rules that work for another group of people may not work for us, and gate-keeping information around money management is just one example of this. Through conversation with one another we can discover what we didn’t know we didn’t know.
We have the power to support each other and redefine ourselves as financially thriving people. Financial barriers and the shame our society associates with debt or misinformed money management can be isolating. Instead we can work to cultivate social circles that are understanding of one another’s financial limits and support each other in implementing new patterns that will lead to success. This can be as simple as finding free or inexpensive ways to spend time with friends so that we can all save money that can be used toward our long-term goals.
Photo by Francesca Pensa-Stewart
Throughout the pandemic, our shopping habits have changed and for many people the ease with which we can order online has led to a coveted and habitual hit of dopamine that can feel good in these trying times. Online spending can be tricky in the way that it allows us to ignore our finances and budgets until we receive a monthly bill. When we have a budget and do regular health check-ins that include our finances we can start to better understand our own behaviours and act with accountability to ourselves and the goals we’ve set. Acting with intention is pivotal for taking control of wholistic health.
Our relationship to money is directly related to our self-esteem and self-love. Self-love can remove the temptation of buying as a method to fill our cups. When we understand the relationship between how we feel, the stories we tell ourselves, and how we behave as a result, we can find ways to welcome better things into our lives. Identifying the areas where we can improve our lives is the first step toward undoing unhealthy mindsets and practices. We must be realistic with ourselves and implement new routines accordingly, this could mean setting up automatic savings transfers with your bank whenever a cheque comes in or creating a budget that includes the little luxuries you can’t live without, with reasonable limits.
When we implement saving habits we can have peace of mind in knowing that we are financially ready should life throw us a curveball. We’re also likely to find ourselves steps closer to the goals we’ve set. We can forge a new path that envisions a better personal and collective future. Financial wellness supports hope, decreases stress in the body and brings us closer to one another on healthy terms. Wholistic wellness asks that we pay attention to limiting mindsets and create habits that bring us closer to our best selves. It can be as simple as asking ourselves how we feel about our finances and working outward from there to access the information required to nurture our relationship to money. Simply put, financial wellbeing is an important aspect of decolonial self-love.