I hope everyone reading this is embracing the new year with hope, rest, and focus on how to continue to grow and stay mentally healthy.
Emotional banking is something that, if you are or have been a client of mine, you've heard me talk about in session before. It's an analogy that I go back to quite often to help people begin to notice what's happening for them in their day-to-day lives. For many of us, being on autopilot is what we just do. Being on autopilot makes it so that we don't always have to figure things out or constantly think. But getting off autopilot and taking time to look at what's happening for you emotionally can help you begin to not only understand yourself but also manage symptoms that create or exacerbate mental health issues. This is where emotional banking can help you. Let’s jump right in and discover what emotional banking is, where to start, and how it can help you keep your mental health on track!
Understanding Emotional Banking: To help us understand emotional banking, think about a regular bank account. With a bank account, we can track what we spend, where we save, display our income, and notice where our money is going. The income or money that is invested in our account allows us to obtain the things we need and want in life, from housing to all the crap we may buy on TikTok. Our emotional account works very much the same way, but instead of money as our currency, we have time, energy, and effort as our emotional dollars or income. However, unlike our financial bank account, where we hopefully check in and look to see what's happening and where our money is going, with the emotional account, I notice that most of us never really check in and notice where our time, energy, and effort are going. We spend from our emotional account as if those funds are unlimited. But just like our real money, emotional funds are limited, maybe even more so at times. This is something that most of us know but are rarely aware of.
Time, energy, and effort are finite resources.
When I notice that people are struggling emotionally, I can almost guarantee that there is no emotional budgeting. Hell, not only is there no emotional budgeting, they're not even looking at their emotional account! So how do we begin emotional banking? It starts with some very sustainable emotional tracking. In a nutshell, emotional tracking is just some very basic journaling. I simply ask people to take account of what they're doing in a day. I don't want them to do any kind of diary writing, storytelling, or simply talking about their mood or feelings. I want them to list (or make a video or voice notes) about what they're doing within their day. Why? Because with this type of tracking, we can see where their time, energy, and effort are going. You would look at where the money is going and decide if it's going where you want and working for the lifestyle you desire. The idea behind beginning any budgeting is this: getting off autopilot and simply noticing.
How to Practice Emotional Budgeting:
Saving: Do you spend time in your day scrolling online, not speaking up for yourself when needed, neglecting to reinforce boundaries, or spending your time listening to that friend who complains about their work, family, and relationship? All of these emotional subscriptions take time, energy, and effort that drain us at a slow drip pace but add up over time. Just like any other subscription! Consider saving your emotional money by figuring out if scrolling, not enforcing boundaries, and being your friend’s pseudo-therapist are how you want to spend your emotional resources. Then, discover and explore more authentic and beneficial uses for your emotional money (time, energy, and effort). Intention is key! Without having a “job” for our emotional money, it is too easy to stay in a habit loop of oblivious emotional spending, which with both real and emotional money will keep you broke.
Investing: Just like with real money, investing does not come into the picture until you have a handle on awareness and management of cash flow (budgeting) and saving. Emotional investing is simple and difficult at the same time. Real self-care is the best way to invest in your emotional account. Real self-care can be achieved by doing things such as learning what your needs and wants are, figuring out who you are right now, understanding what is called for now, and practicing a sustainable behavioral activation schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good manicure and massage, but real investment in self-care involves intentional, focused work.
Important: Most people behave as if investing in themselves starts with investing in relationships. The issue with spending your emotional money on any relationship is that those investments, even in the very best circumstances, tend to be break-even scenarios. Often, breaking even can be a huge WIN. But I typically ask that when beginning emotional banking, we start with pure investments (investments that do not depend on what someone else does) first.
Let’s consider why.
Because in almost all relationships, we tend to give just as much time, energy, and effort as we receive.
Outside investors (i.e., friends, family, partners, etc.) can decide at any time that they no longer want to invest or, for several reasons, they simply cannot invest anymore.
Learning to manage your own emotional money instead of looking to others to invest in you or make up for any deficiencies you may have is the best way to improve any relationship and mental health. Check out all the benefits of emotional banking:
Increased emotional intelligence
Improved mood (less irritation and frustration)
Decreased emotional burden on our loved ones who have their own accounts to manage.
Improved relationship dynamics that allow us to enhance and enrich each other instead of creating needy, unhealthy, and possibly draining connections.
What are you waiting for?! Get started with emotional banking in the new year, today!
If you have any questions, please contact me!