Embarrassment stops countless people from seeking the help they need. When it comes to your personal finances, the best policy is to be open about past financial mistakes, and seek qualified help.
I was so embarrassed. Red-faced. Tears streaming down my face.
Most. embarrassing. moment. ever.
Let me tell you how it all started.
My mom was (and is) very passionate about two things: getting great grades in school and loving God.
Growing up in warm but extremely smoggy Glendora, CA, my family raised me in a Baptist church for the first 10 years or so of my life.
But there's more.
My mom pushed me to be an overachiever. She would push and prod to get the most out of me. Part of this process was being involved in our church in AWANA (Approved Workers Are Not Ashamed is what the acronym stands for).
In this once-a-week nighttime program, kids were separated by various age groups to learn Bible verses, do a fun activity, and to compete. Older kids would go on camping trips and do some cool bonding activities. It was kind of like Boy Scouts (which I was also involved in), but with a bent on Bible training and verses rather than merit badges and survival training.
I loved competing in the AWANA Olympics, to run and run around the circles and hand off the baton. It was great early training for track!
What I didn’t love, but was pretty good at was the AWANA Bible Quiz competition.
When I was in 1st grade, we had to rush out the door to get to Bible Quiz competition. We rushed through a drive thru of a fast food joint to get some food and drink on the way.
Have you ever been in Southern California traffic? It is crazy unpredictable!
And here's what happened.
We were stuck, in a freeway turned parking lot, moving about as fast as a snail. It took us a couple of hours to get there. Naturally, being young I didn’t have a large bladder.
We were about 20 minutes away and I had to go No. 1! My mom would not stop. She did not want to be late.
We rushed into the church and I was practically shoved onto the stage, just on time for my competition with the other kids. I was clenching my thighs, it hurt so badly!
I just had to get through 15 minutes of the Bible Quiz. I couldn’t concentrate. They asked a question. I raised a paddle. Anxiously, I put the paddle back down. I didn’t think I could hold it much longer. They asked another question. As I raised my paddle again….. uh oh.
There I was sitting in a puddle… of my own pee. I nervously looked around and squirmed in my seat. Of course, another kid next to me noticed and said, “Ewwwwwwww!” making a commotion.
All heads swiveled towards me. The audience craned their necks to see what was going on.
“He peed in his seat!”
My mom, red-faced and angry, grabbed me. I was so ashamed, so embarrassed. In front of a whole crowd of people! Really?
I don’t remember what happened after that, but that feeling, that moment, has stuck with me for the last 30 years.
It was by far, the most embarrassing moment of my life.
I find that many physicians I meet with can be embarrassed about the way that they’ve handled money.
Maybe they’ve made a few impulsive buys.
Maybe they’ve racked up some credit card debt.
Maybe they’ve just simply had to pull themselves up by their boot straps and have taken on a few hundred thousand dollars of school debt in order to pursue their dreams.
Money can be such a taboo subject. Embarrassment can cause us some fear.
Fear of judgement.
Fear of what someone else will think.
Steve Jobs had said, “Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
I am so grateful to my clients for opening up their lives to me. It isn’t easy to do. The trust that we share is precious to me. It is sacrosanct. Knowing that I will keep their information confidential, even from other family members, is extremely important to them.
It’s a privilege and a responsibility that I do not take lightly.
If you are struggling with an area related to your finances and you are feeling embarrassed, it’s okay.
Ask for help.
I’d love to empower you with tools and strategies to help you get to where you want to go to. Don’t be embarrassed. Be the physician to take the bull by the horns and transform your financial future. Feel free to reach out anytime. I am here for you.
Dave Denniston, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), is an author and authority for physicians providing a voice and an advocate for all of the financial issues that doctors deal with. He is the author of 5 Steps to Get out of Debt for Physicians, The Insurance Guide for Doctors, The Tax Reduction Prescription, and his new book, The Freedom Formula for Physicians.
He regularly grapples with many issues that face physicians on his podcast, available at DoctorFreedomPodcast.com.
He’s glad to answer any questions about insurance policies or other financial matters. You can contact him at (800) 548-1820, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at DoctorFreedomBook.com to get a copy of The Freedom Formula for Physicians.