Many experts suggest that money is one of the most common stressors for the modern American. For those who are thinking about declaring bankruptcy, the stress can reach astronomical levels and even begin to affect your health. If you find that money is still stressing you out even after you’ve decided to resolve your problems with bankruptcy, become familiar with some of the following traps that we fall into when it comes to thinking and stressing about money. Learn to think about things differently and you’ll discover that you can quickly decrease the amount of stress that money generates in your mind and your life.
Common Thought Processes We Succumb to That Increase Our Stress Over Money:
- Extreme Blame for Financial Problems: When a financial problem arises, if you find yourself placing all the blame on yourself by deciding that one thing you did led to the catastrophe or if you find yourself placing the blame on everyone around you instead of taking the responsibility yourself, you might need to alter your mindset. The all or nothing approach is almost never accurate.
- Exaggerating the Bad and Minimizing the Good: Humans are naturally drawn to the negative. In fact, studies have shown that the longer we pursue a goal, the farther away it seems. That’s why so many people get sidetracked or even give up (even if they’re very close to finally reaching the goal). It takes a concentrated effort to change this bad habit, but doing so will drastically decrease the money related stress in most people’s lives. It is particularly useful to develop this habit when filing for bankruptcy, as you’ll be able to use it while going through the process of filing, waiting for your debt discharge, and starting over with a clean slate after bankruptcy.
- Overgeneralizing: Have you ever seen a Ferrari or a Porsche in a parking lot and found yourself thinking about all those “rich people” who go around driving fancy cars? From there many people start thinking about how much money that person has, how gorgeous their house is, and how amazingly perfect the entire family is that lives in the gorgeous house. From there many start to think about their own life in comparison to his (the imaginary rich stranger with a fancy car, fancy house, fancy wife/kids, etc.) If you leap to this type of conclusion, know that you’re normal, but also know that you can’t look at one small piece of a situation and create a rule around it. Stop overgeneralizing. You don’t know who is driving that Ferrari. He could be unemployed with a ton of credit card debt and a mountain of student loans. Maybe he stole that car. You’re causing yourself unnecessary money driven stress when you fantasize about how much better other peoples’ lives are in comparison to yours. Also consider this…longitudinal research indicates that most millionaires tend to drive used cars (not Ferraris or Porsches).
- Pessimistic Thinking: Don’t listen to unfounded rumors. Don’t extrapolate consequences from imaginary situations. Too many of us indulge in catastrophic thinking. For instance, a co-worker mentions that he thinks sales are down and that it would really be a bad time for the company to go under. By the time you’re home, you’ve decided that you might be fired soon. You won’t be able to pay your rent and you’ll get evicted. Your wife will decide it was your fault you lost your job. She’ll leave you and take the kids. You won’t be able to find a new job because the industry is in a tough spot. You’ll be broke and living in an alley. That is an example of classic catastrophic thinking. It’s unhealthy. Break the chain of horrible thoughts if you notice yourself spiraling in such a manner. Stop and analyze what actually “is,” what’s actually possible and what isn’t possible.
- Believing in Mind Reading: Many of us secretly believe in the power of reading minds. We assume that our significant others are aware that some of their purchasing habits cause us financial worry even though we have never brought it to their attention. For instance, you might spend a lot of time worrying about the expenditures your husband makes in order to play golf with his buddies, but you’ve never said anything to him about it. You just assume he knows it causes you stress because he’s aware the two of you don’t have a lot of extra money. Eventually, because he can’t read minds, he’ll drive you to explode. You’ll be angry. And he’ll be surprised that you’re upset about something that he didn’t see as a problem. Since most of us can’t read minds, you should simply tell your partner when a spending habit is a problem. Have the conversation right away and keep the communication polite. It’s the only effective way to address the situation.
- Emotion Filled Reasoning: Many of us allow our hearts to rule our heads. When you get stressed or anxious, you let it lead to fear and you let your fear lead you to action. Actions made at this point are founded on emotion NOT logic. Don’t make financial decisions unless you can back them up with logic. Use facts and figures to form your financial opinions; this isn’t an area that should be ruled by the heart.
Declaring bankruptcy is, in many cases, the single most effective action you can take to decrease the amount of worry, anxiety and stress in your life as a direct result of money (or the lack of money). But working on changing the way you think about things, particularly the six mind traps mentioned above, will help you as you approach life after bankruptcy. If you need to discuss what you need to do in order to receive a discharge of your debts, contact the southern California bankruptcy law attorneys at Westgate Law.