The Relationship Between Money and Trauma for Entrepreneurs with Shulamit Ber Levtov

The Relationship Between Money and Trauma for Entrepreneurs with Shulamit Ber Levtov

On this episode of The Bold Money Revolution Podcast, I’m chatting with a dear friend of mine, Shula Ber Tov. She is the Entrepreneur’s Therapist. We connected through Instagram and have become friends. We chatted about therapy, processing trauma, and how those relate to business owners and money. 

Background on Shula

Shula got into therapy as a profession a bit later in life. She was doing other work, got injured, and found herself doing her own occupational therapy. Whatever career shift she made would need to be her retirement plan, and she was concerned about entering the workforce as an “older woman.” She returned to school for what she originally intended and became a therapist.

While going to school, it was clear to Shula that the coursework taught students how to do the work but operated with the assumption that people would be employed after graduation. It didn’t consider people working for themselves. Shula knew that small businesses often fail in the first year. She also knew from research studies that mental health professionals really struggle with financial well-being. 

Shula needed to figure out business and money because she needed to be able to prepare for retirement. Right out of the gate, she hired a bookkeeper and started working on business coaching. She found networking groups with entrepreneurs to learn more about starting a successful business. However, these groups had zero other therapists. She quickly found herself being the friendly person these entrepreneurs felt comfortable sharing things with.

This experience made it extremely clear to Shula that there was a need for a therapist who understands what entrepreneurs go through. That’s how she started Entrepreneur’s Therapist. 

The Relationship Between Money and Trauma

Our money, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors are all affected by our past experiences, and money experiences can be traumatic to us. Trauma is much bigger than just a medical issue. The amount of money you grew up with will have an impact on you as an adult, especially if there were money traumas. 

For example, let’s say you grew up in poverty. Part of you will always hold onto those feelings, and they will impact you throughout your life. Well into your adulthood, you might be faced with a decision about spending money on your business, and you might feel anxious. Your past experiences are going to color your choices. 

Another example that is fairly common is the children of refugees. They find themselves hoarding money and living well below their means because of generational struggles and the need in the past to have money saved away. 

All of these behaviors are done in an attempt to survive under the circumstances. They are protective measures. It’s important that you don’t look back and judge yourself. Instead, you should view these actions as a way you were working to protect yourself.

By unpacking these traumas, you can stop them from coloring your money stuff going forward. You’ll still have emotions around them, but they won’t have such a strong hold over you.

Living With Dyscalculia 

If that word is new to you, you aren’t alone. Dyscalculia is like dyslexia but with numbers. People with this may struggle with doing math in their heads, spatial relationships, and anything that deals with numbers. It’s a learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand number-based information and math. 

I struggle with numbers, which is interesting since I’m a money person. But I often use a calculator even with the simplest math because I don’t trust myself. For Shula, she struggles with zeros and actually counts them with a pen. 

Just because numbers are tough doesn’t mean that you’re bad with money. Shula could separate the shame about numbers and her learning disorder, which fixed half of her money issues. Educational trauma is real, and many children struggle with math but don’t realize that they possibly suffer from Dyscalculia. 

Does Everyone Experience Trauma?

Trauma is a word that is used more today than it ever was before. There are plenty of people who use it as a way to explain why they aren’t able to do certain things, and they need support. But there’s the question of whether or not everyone actually experiences trauma or not. 

Therapists are skilled and trained at dealing with people at every stage. They understand when someone is experiencing fight or flight and don’t push them through it. Shula has first-hand experience with being trauma-sensitive but constantly works to hold space for others. She cares for the feelings coming up within her without dumping them on others.

When people are in a trauma response, it’s important to stabilize them and be with them in that moment. As a coach, I keep an eye on people who are struggling and help them find support when they don’t seem to be improving. It’s important that people are trained to recognize trauma responses. Many people in public service have received updated training in recent years to assist the public better. Anybody can de-escalate a situation, but that isn’t treatment.

How This Applies to Business Owners and Fear

The survival of a business relies on the nervous system of business owners like survival. You might recognize that you won’t actually die if your business doesn’t survive, but your nerves may not. Business owners might be trying to improve things by purchasing programs or working with a coach, but they may be stuck and unable to take any steps forward. You’re offline and not ready to receive the information.

First, you have to take a developmental step. That step is usually therapy. You need to regulate your nervous system so you can take action. Therapy will give you tools to recognize what’s happening and intervene. You’ll be triggered less and less as time goes on, and you’ll be empowered to care for yourself. 

Since starting my business, I’ve been able to push my boundaries but also utilize my tools and process the situations where I’m triggered. If you are a business owner who spends more time in fight or flight, it will be harmful to you emotionally and financially. It’s important to pause and do some of the unpacking with a professional so you can successfully move forward. 

Final Thoughts from the Entrepreneur’s Therapist

Mental health challenges are inherent in entrepreneurship. Your business plans include marketing, finances, cash flow, and more, but it’s important to plan for your mental health and ensure it’s cared for. Difficulty is part of the human experience; there’s nothing wrong with you when these things arise.
You can connect with Shula on Instagram or sign up for her newsletter.