Changing the Pain & Fear Behind “I can’t afford it”

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Have you ever said, “I can’t afford it”?
When dealing with anxiety and stress this statement often emerges from a place of fear. When this statement comes from a place of fear your body will express that fear in some way, perhaps in a feeling of heaviness in your chest or gut or in a tightening sensation across your back; the feelings are particular to you. These physical sensations and responses get trapped and further exacerbate your feelings of anxiety and stress. When you connect to these sensations with understanding and kindness you can release them and then make a clearer decision that’s not driven by fear.

When coming from a place of fear, “I can’t afford it” isn’t related to how much money you have. Let’s address money from this perspective. If you experience anxiety and stress, the issue of money can charge those feelings into high gear, especially when it comes to spending money on your own health and well-being. When you say, “I can’t afford it” from a place of fear, it’s like an expectation that the only way you could spend the money is if you surprisingly found the exact amount you needed in your pocket, as “extra” money. That’s not likely to happen. That “extra” money doesn’t show up.

Photo by Gerome Viavant on Unsplash

When you automatically say, “I can’t afford it” from a place of fear, you’re not connected to the exact fear that’s driving that statement. Then you’re making a decision based on an unknown and disconnected fear, which causes pain, perhaps some tightening or heaviness in your body. Can you connect to that feeling? When you say, “I can’t afford it,” check out what happens in your body. You’ll need to be patient and quiet for this. The sensations are subtle if you haven’t looked at them this way before. If you notice a tightening or a heaviness emerge, that’s your body telling you something’s wrong. It’s telling you what you’re saying isn’t quite true. It doesn’t feel good. These sensations might not seem like much but when they occur over and over without release they eventually lead to more significant pain.

So what can you do about it? First, recognize that’s it happening and that your body is trying to tell you something. Only then can you change it.

For example, this feeling of pain or irritation may be a fear of change or of the unknown. If that’s the case a more accurate replacement for “I can’t afford it” might be “I’m afraid. I’m feeling fear. I’m afraid this will upset the structure and the norm I’ve created in my life. I don’t know what the outcome will be if I pursue this.” That’s a very different statement. That statement connects to the fear that’s happening. When you connect with fear it loses a lot of its power. Then your choices are clearer. Once you see that fear you could say, “You know what? Ok, that’s true, I’ll need to change some things around and yes, changing my finances will change the norm I’ve created but I can handle that. I can deal with that; that’s ok.” Or you might say “I’m not ready to change what I have going on in my life right now. It’s important to me to maintain the stability I’ve created.” And that’s ok too. Now the decision about whether or not to change is no longer based on fear. And you’ll feel better about spending the money or not spending the money because neither decision is based on the fear of change. You will literally feel better in your body. That sensation you noticed earlier of tightness, heaviness, etc., will disappear. If it hasn’t then you still haven’t connected to what’s really going on in you.

Other feelings can subsequently appear even when you recognize that first fear. Again, your body serves as a guide. For example, even if you decide to change your current situation you may not see a way to rearrange your finances. That could cause frustration and confusion, which will both have a physical manifestation in your body. It’s ultimately much better to connect with those physical sensations and emotional feelings than to ignore them or repress them. When you connect to them there’s potential for more positive change. When you connect there’s more clarity than the vague and general “I can’t afford it.” That’s a real downer. It pulls you down emotionally and physically. That makes progressive positive change much more difficult. When you connect with those feelings that are hidden inside the statement “I can’t afford it,” you’ll see what’s really happening to you, what’s really driving you. When you let go of that statement you let go of its physical manifestation that’s preventing you from making conscious positive decisions. When you directly connect with the fear or the frustration or confusion you’ll feel the difference. In the long run connecting to them has a less tragic effect on your body, emotion and mentality.

The statement “I can’t afford it” has an implied permanence about it that can cause a sense of hopelessness. Hopelessness has a physical manifestation in your body. It might be a slump of your shoulders, or a tightening of your breath. Perhaps it’s a clenching in your gut. What does hopelessness feel like in your body? Get to know it. The physical manifestation of hopelessness is difficult to work with when it’s unrecognized. When you connect with it, it’s trying to tell you to change your thinking. The sense of permanence and hopelessness inherent in the belief of “I can’t afford it” are very hard to change and so different from the thought “I can’t see a way to allocate the money to that right now.” That’s different; that’s something that’s temporary. There’s some hope that things could be different. Maybe later on you can make that change. You might not see a solution right now but the seed has been planted. It can grow into a solution since you’ve given it the opportunity. But “I can’t afford it” is so permanent there’s no seed planted in that. It’s just dead earth, very hopeless. You can feel the affect of that in your body. “I can’t” literally has a physical effect on your body. Try it out for yourself right now. Is there something in your life you’ve been telling yourself you “can’t do”? Say it to yourself out loud now and see what happens in your body. You’ll feel a shift of unpleasantness somewhere.

Ultimately you get to decide what you’re going to do rather than get stuck in what you think you have to do. “I can’t afford it” takes away any choice on your part. In that statement you give up your power to choose. Making a conscious choice (even if you don’t like the choice) is much freer than following a forced path. You might still make the decision not to buy whatever it is, or not to spend the money on whatever it is, but you’ll feel a lot better physically and emotionally knowing why you’re making that decision. You’ll be making that decision for yourself rather than having it made for you through the statement of “I can’t afford it.” Also, if the thing you wanted to spend the money on is important to you, you’ll have a clear objective and less weight in yourself. You’ll have a clear objective of how to move toward that goal in the future. And you’ll free yourself from the physical pain of fear.

I have a friend who has a strict and carefully planned budget. She’s happy with it. When she says she can’t afford something it’s not from a place of fear, there’s no tightening in her. Her body is telling her she’s on track. She’s very clear in where and how she spends her money. She understands that she’s saying, “That’s not in the budget that I’ve planned out. If I want to spend money on myself in a different way I’ll need to adjust my budget.” It’s a simple statement for her. She’s reached that point in her own way. The key is to reach it in yours. Your body can help guide you.

How does that strike you?