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I get it, you see no other way to save money and feel trapped.

Sure, you can dress like a bum and eat like a college student, but you’d feel more miserable than you currently do. So what happens? You become overwhelmed and take no action.

What if there was a better way to save money? You’d need to change bad habits and step out of your comfort zone. But, the best part is you’d start saving more money than ever before.

Kristin Neff, author of “Self Compassion” performed several case studies on self-compassion. The results revealed why we’re often unhappy despite financial success. 

The solution is simple, practicing self-compassion leads to a happier life. And as you live a happier life you’ll avoid the obstacles holding you back from financial success.

But, first, you need to understand what self-compassion is and how you can it apply it to your life.

Why Self-Compassion Is The Answer

Is self-compassion another way for being “soft” with yourself? Yes and no. Practicing self-compassion doesn’t mean you’ll lower your standards for achieving more. Instead, you’ll treat yourself with care as you do with friends or loved ones.

After all, you’re your worst enemy. Don’t believe me? What would you be telling yourself if you woke up 1 hour late for work?

If you’re like most people chances are it wouldn’t be pretty. You’d say comments such as: “I’m careless because I woke up late.” “Why can’t I ever do anything right?”

This isn’t the advice we would give to our friends and loved ones, yet we do it to ourselves. But why? According to Kristin Neff, it’s due to feeding our need for positive self-evaluation.

In other words, you’re searching for external factors to feel good about yourself. Think of this as stuffing yourself with candy and feeling guilty afterward. Often times we compare ourselves to others, looking for ways in which we are better.

The problem is that when you strive to be the best there’s always going to be someone better than you. And this is where you’ll run into trouble because you’ll feel disappointed.

The trick is to stop judging yourself altogether. But how? Start by not labeling anything as good and bad. Instead, accept things for how they are.

Here’s an exercise you can try:

Exercise #1: Organize 3 chairs in a triangular position. Brainstorm an issue that you criticize yourself with often. 

Then assign the first chair as the voice of your inner critic. The second chair to the part of you feeling judged. And, the third chair is the compassionate observer. 

Practice changing personas for each character and see how you can calm your inner critic. This exercise will help you be in tune with your feelings and focus on your compassionate voice.

Core Components of Self Compassion

Self-compassion can be broken down into 3 core categories.

1. Being kind to yourself

It’s not enough to stop judging yourself to be happy. You also need to be supportive of yourself during challenging moments.

For example, don’t judge yourself for being late to work. Instead, show compassion for your current situation. You can tell yourself things like “I know this is a challenging time for me right now. But, what can I do to feel better?” 

Unfortunately, your support system won’t always be available. The interesting part is that our brains and bodies have the innate capacity to give and receive care. This means that you have the capability to care for yourself during tough times, 24 hours per day. 

2. Relate to others

Self-compassion also consists of understanding how you’re interconnected to everyone else. When you’re going through difficult moments it’s easy to feel isolated. But, everyone shares disappointment, sadness, happiness, etc. 

Self-compassion offers support during tough times instead of pity. For example, you might say “Everyone fails at some point”, instead of “Why wasn’t I born smart?”

3. Be present

Often times we tend to distort reality. For instance, you may be anxious about a test only to realize it wasn’t as bad as you’d imagined. Similarly, we tend to distort other areas in our lives.

The problem is that we tend to focus on our problems instead of the pain caused by them. For example, let’s say your boss gave you negative feedback on your performance. In this scenario, you’d go into problem-solving mode and leave your pain unattended.

Think of mindfulness as a clear pool without ripples. When you learn to view things as they are you won’t suffer unnecessary pain. You’ll be focusing on what you’re feeling and not the problem itself. But, committing to being present isn’t enough. You’ll need to practice mindful habits. 

Here’s an exercise you can try to become more mindful:

Sit in a quiet place for 5–20 minutes and close your eyes. With your eyes closed note the feelings you’re currently experiencing. For instance, you may feel an itch on your right foot, or hear children playing in the front yard. Allow yourself to keep moving on to the next emotion you’re drawn to.

If you have a hard time sitting still you can try a guided meditation. Be patient with yourself and don’t expect to get this right the first time. It will take you a few tries before you start reaping the benefits of meditation.

How to Save Money With Self-Compassion

So, how does self-compassion save you money?

By being happy. Being your worse enemy is the very thing holding you back from building massive wealth.

The truth is there’s no specific amount of money that can make someone happy. You may want to be a millionaire or you may want enough money to travel the world. Regardless, prioritizing anything else besides your happiness is ludicrous. 

Why’s that?

Here are 3 proven ways self-compassion will help you to save money and live a happier life.

1. Stop Being Your Largest Liability

We live in a competitive society. In Western culture, people get rewarded for being the “best.” They feel a “high” rush when they’re doing good, but also feel an extreme “low” when they aren’t the best.

The problem with this approach is that it’s impossible for everyone to be “the best” at the same time. This leads to inevitable disappointment and bad choices. The worse part is that your wallet suffers throughout the process.

Take this case study, for example, where participants watched a sad and neutral video. Participants who watched the sad video offered to pay 4 times more money for bottled water. Now imagine how vulnerable you are to spending money frivolously when you’re also in a sad mood.

Often times we treat our friends better than we treat ourselves. We have a misbelief that having strict standards is necessary to reach our goals. But, being harsh with ourselves is only holding us back from achieving better results.

The solution?

Start changing the source from where your self-judgment comes from. Don’t depend on external factors that influence your judgments. Instead, allow your judgments to come from your heart.

That’s because your heart accepts your flaws, understanding humans fail at some point. 

Think back to the times you’d spent money on food, jewelry, and other expensive items to be happy. Being happy and saving money isn’t the same as being frugal. It means you won’t spend money on unnecessary items trying to fill a void.

2. Increase Your Earning Potential

What’s holding you back from building your business? Landing your dream job? Or taking the financial risk to become wealthy?

The answer is fear, doubt, and negative self-judgment. Sure, there are many other factors but the majority of them are internal. When you practice self-compassion you learn how to manage your emotions.

Research has found that compassionate people are less anxious or depressed. They still experience negative emotions but know how to manage them better.

A big roadblock we have is that our brains have a negativity bias. This means that your brain tends to focus more on negative than positive information. Now think back to the last time you shot down a money-making idea.

Imagine trusting yourself on a whole new level. You’d still experience fear but would take the risks necessary to reach your goals. 

You’d ask for a promotion. Start your business. And, remove barriers that are currently holding you back from reaching financial success.

3. Skyrocket Your Savings With Time

The old saying, “Time is money” couldn’t be truer. Yet, some people end up wasting an entire life pleasing others.

Why’s that? Because of the way we’re wired to feel good and bad. 

Often our self-esteem is dependent on the approval of others. Because of this certain outcomes determine our self-worth, also called contingent self-worth. 

This paralyzes you with fear of taking risks and letting others down. The result? Several years or an entire lifetime of playing it “safe.” It’s not uncommon for people to work their entire lives in a career they hate to please their parents.

Self-compassion is your ticket to saving countless hours dwelling over unachieved goals. You’d still care about other people’s opinions, except your self-worth would come within. 

Gary Vaynerchuck, a successful entrepreneur speaks about finding happiness by doing what you love. He mentions how some of his friends earn 45K living a happy life. While other millionaire friends live unhappily despite their financial success.

A great exercise to practice is to list 3 qualities you like or dislike about yourself. Then ask the following questions:

  1. Do I want to feel better than others, or feel connected?
  2. Do I want to be perfect or healthy?

The point of this exercise is to help you put your perception of yourself in perspective.

Live Happily, Start Saving

Happiness is something all humans strive for. But, during the process, it’s easy to get lost. Instead of looking for ways more ways to save money, focus on your happiness. 

For the past decade, I’ve been my worse enemy. This has caused me to accumulate thousands of dollars in debt trying to fill empty voids. But, I was fortunate enough to learn from my mistakes.

It’s time for us to start leading a better lifestyle.

Imagine dressing like a bum but being happy. Or, dressing in a suit with a smile on your face each morning. Life would have more meaning than it ever did.

When you’d experience tough times, you’d have your back. When you’d want to take a risk, you’d have your back. The very person who was holding you back is now helping you become the best version of yourself.

The best part is you aren’t prioritizing money. Yet, your income would be higher than ever before.

Amazing right?

This isn’t too farfetched to become your reality. You’ve already won. Don’t wait to have more money to feel happy, start today.

“The odds of you being human are 400 trillion to one” – Gary Vaynerchuck 

You have only one life to live, do something about it.


Chris is the founder of FWO, the blog for people looking to reach financial independence and stay inspired along the way.

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