The Science Behind Emotional Spending


Last night, we interviewed Gloria Chen, founder of a science-backed mindfulness company called Recalibrate. We have so much to recap in case you didn’t get a chance to come (but we better see you at the next Coffee & Coin because this blog post is really only 1/8 of the fun, if we had to guess).

What exactly is mindfulness?

We were surprised (and maybe a little excited) to learn that mindfulness doesn’t always mean meditation. According to Gloria:

Mindfulness is deliberate, non-judgmental awareness of the present moment.

Basically, it’s just about staying in the moment—not worrying about the future or the past. And it’s also about staying neutral with yourself—shushing your inner Regina George who’s judging you for that extra cookie or those 5 face masks at Target that you probably didn’t need.

So how can I start to be mindful?

Gloria told us about a daily mindfulness practice called the 5 senses trick. At the end of every day, during the walk between her office and her car, she tunes into her five senses: what am I smelling right now? What am I seeing? How do my feet feel on the ground?

Another tip we learned from someone in the audience (apparently inspired by someone we had to Google named Brendon Burchard): before you walk into any new space, say to yourself: release, release, release to keep yourself present in your new surroundings.

Ok but this is a blog about money, so…how do finances and stress affect each other?

Let’s get neuroscience-y for a second: our brain is constantly scanning our surroundings and sending bits of info to the amygdala. The amygdala’s sole job is to flag each piece of info as dangerous or safe (which is why Gloria refers to the ‘myg as the “jumpy guard dog”).

When your brain perceives stress—even if there’s no real physical threat—it creates a full-body response. Your blood flow increases, your muscles tense, aaaand the more rational parts of your brain get de-prioritized, because your body doesn’t think you need much logic to sprint away from a tiger.

Money is such an emotional topic that we snap into this stress response and don’t use the more complex parts of our brains.

So how can we control these stress responses like emotional spending?

When you’re young, your brain maps out any new experience so it’s prepared for the next time you encounter it. AKA negative experiences with money can create subconscious beliefs that aren’t productive.

This is where mindfulness comes in: when you look at your bank account and feel anxious, your subconscious brain immediately goes back to that memory of watching your mom drink a bottle of wine and try to balance her checkbook, and you think to yourself I’ll never have enough. And wine = emotional support.

In these moments, two things are helpful: 1) Deep belly breaths, which is essentially a system override to get your body out of that fight-or-flight stress response 2) Talking about your stress out loud.

The more women talk about their money out loud, the more they can overcome their fear-based subconscious beliefs.

Which is the entire reason we host these events. So…see you at the next Coffee & Coin, where we’ll be interviewing BossBabes founder Jane Claire Hervey at the BossBabes HQ.

Allegra Brantly