Friday, November 2, 2012

How to Keep Yourself Sane When Dealing With Financial Difficulties

Sadly, many of us have faced financial difficulties at one time or another.  Keep in mind, a poor financial portfolio does not make you a bad person.  Sometimes, life just throws us a curve ball.  it can happen without notice due to unexpected car repairs, job loss, medical bills, divorce, natural disaster, or other surprise events.  When these things happen, you can easily find yourself in a financial bind.  The inability to provide for day-to-day necessities, the stress of bill collectors calling, and the strain on your relationships, can quickly become overwhelming.  So what can you do to keep sane?

Even thouh financial difficulties are uncomfortable, you still have options.  You get to choose how you will respond emotionally.  You can choose to react like "Chicken Little" and frantically scream, "The sky is falling!" Or, you can take "Annie's" perspective and proclaim the "sun will come out tommorow!" I would suggest the latter.  After all, panic does not make it easier to resolve a problem.  Having a clear head and optimisitc approach goes a long way in time of crisis.  So, stay calm and keep your wits about you.

Strategically, as with any hurdle in life, you must formulate a plan of action.  The first step is to define the scope of the problem and the criteria for success.  In defining the problem, it is essential that the definition be measurable. For example, "my life is falling apart" is not a useful description of the problem.  On the other hand, this statement, "I have $2,500 of debt that must be paid by November 30, 20xx to stay in our home," is a measurable definition of the problem.  In the latter example, the solution is clear: to secure $2,500 before November 30, 20xx.  Whereas in the first example, the problem is unclear and therefore there is no obvious solution.  Stating the problem succinctly helps you to prepare for the challenge ahead of you.  It helps you to communicate your needs to others and it focuses your attention on the real problem.  People tend to feel more optimisitc when they have a comprehensible view of the situation.

Make a plan.  After all, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  With the problem well defined, brainstorming the solution can begin.  Take a piece of paper out and list all the barriers and opportunities to resolve the problem.  Be creative and jot down as many as you can.  There is something therapeutic about a brain-dump, which is, expressing your troubles onto paper.  Give it a try.  Then, review the list and ask yourself, "What action will I take next?"  This is the hardest part.  Many of us get frustrated when we can't resolve the problem immediately.  However, some problems take time to resolve.  Give yourself permission to be patient and thoughtful.  If you can't resolve it with the information that you have today, revisit the problem tomorrow.  Each day set aside a short period of time to gather new information, reflect, update your plan and take whatever actions you can toward resolving the problem.  Be careful not to dwell on the symptoms of the problem, focus on solving the root cause.  Remember, not to over react and try to avoid retelling the "poor me" story, blaming others or self-destructive behavior.  Be encouraged, and remember the line from the Color Purple, "trouble don't last always."  So, focus on finding joy each day despite your temporary dilemma.

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