How to beat financial fear

Mar 10, 2024 | Insights

Your wealth is a reflection of you, so re-draw your self-image to avoid fear and guilt about your money.
A knife can heal in the hands of a surgeon, and in the wrong hands, it can wound. Whether you are going under the knife or staring at the point of a knife, you will probably experience fear.

Like the knife, money also induces fear. With too little, you fear running out of money; with enough, you fear losing what you have.

Maxwell Maltz addresses the idea of Undeserved Wealth Syndrome in his work on Psychocybernetics (which gave rise to the concept of self-image), pointing out that many wealthy and famous people struggle to live with their wealth and fame. Money, it is said, does not buy happiness.

Is your self-image a true reflection of your value?

According to Maltz, a false self-image drives fear and depression in the wealthy. Maltz practised as a plastic surgeon and concluded that his patients’ view of themselves had more impact on their demeanour than the surgery he provided to improve their actual or perceived disfigurement.

Arguably, the self-image of those who suffer, whether rich or poor, has yet to catch up with their achievements. I remember getting my first bonus. While the money was good, I felt an underlying guilt. Why did I deserve this? Surely I was not that good!

Many years later, I sold my business and cashed in the share options of a partner business. Together, these left me wealthier than I had ever been. Interestingly, I felt no guilt about this sudden wealth. I did not take to my bed or the bottle. I saw this sudden wealth as a reward for providing my clients with an outstanding, life-changing service over the years.

Your self-image counts for more than your money.

When I got that first bonus, I saw myself as incompetent, unworthy and an imposter, hence the guilt. In the second instance, I saw myself as a competent counsellor, coach and financial planner, aware of how much good I had delivered to my clients and deserving of the rewards.

Money tends not to grow on trees. It usually comes to those who serve or help others and are creative, organised and inspirational. So, if you get a bonus, this is probably a reflection of your abilities. If you are left a legacy, this probably reflects the care and help you gave over a lifetime. If you win the lottery, pat yourself on the back for taking the initiative to buy a ticket (after all, you would never have won if you had not purchased the ticket in the first place)

As so often, it is not about the money. It is about your attitude to your money and yourself that counts. So, if you are wealthy or have just received a sizeable sum of money, see this as a measure of your competence and re-draw your self-image to match what others think of you.

Photo attribution

Photo by Caroline Veronez on Unsplash

Audio link

Other attributions and references

Maltz, Maxwell. Psycho-Cybernetics. New York, Tarcherperigee, An Imprint Of Penguin Books, 2016.

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My name is Jeremy Deedes. I combine financial life planning and life coaching to rewrite your story through your figures, deepen your relationship with money and reorganise your money to achieve your goals.

Specifically, I help seasoned independent consultants make sense of their money so that they can blaze a brighter trail at home and work with calm, confidence and clarity of purpose.

Discover your money maturity score by taking the Money Maturity Quiz at It’s free, takes only a few minutes, and you will get your score and recommendations by email immediately.

Then, schedule a free 20-minute call with me using the link below so we can start you on the path to understanding your money and creating a new story to tell your family and friends.

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