I believe that financial unmanageability transcends money. When it comes to finding ways to better manage your finances, there are unlimited resources. There are many great books, blogs, forums, websites, and apps. There is not a shortage of information, tools, or even professional services. If a person wants to make improvements when it comes to spending less, paying down debt, saving more of their earnings, or learning to invest, they could find out how to do it in a matter of minutes by doing a few simple online searches.
If the solution to finding ways to improve your financial situation is so readily available, why are so many people struggling? Yes, we can blame the marketers for always trying to sell the newest gadget. That excuse, however, only carries so much weight. Consumers are more educated than ever and many tune ads out.
What if the problem is more pervasive? What if the problem is beyond simple behavior modification? What if the problem is based on unmanageability? Yes, the inability to have mastery over your life.
If the problem is based in unmanageability, there is not a blog or app to solve the problem. If your life is truly unmanageable, trying to get a better handle on your financial shortcomings is just treating a symptom. To gain control of your life, it will take a little more than spending less and saving more.
Nobody truly wants to admit their life is unmanageable. Just like nobody wants to admit they drink, spend, eat, or gamble too much. It is natural for many people to think, I don’t have an issue with my finances and then go spend more money. It is common behavior for people who have addiction problems or a spiritual malady to deny what the problem is. The thought process is like a broken record that skips the same verse over and over. I do not have a problem with my finances – go spend more money.
To resent is to keep going back to a negative feeling. Instead of feeling and processing those bad or negative feelings, you spend money. Resentment is not always based on harboring ill feeling towards someone who you believe wronged you in some way. Resentment can also be rooted in harboring ill feelings towards someone who did exactly what you expected them to do. The problem was that you were still not satisfied. They were unable to fill that void that exists within you. To find temporary relief, you continue to spend and try to fill that void with an external fix. Unfortunately, it does not last. After you exhale out and feel relief, you almost immediately inhale the resentment back in.
It is All About You
When you live an unmanageable life, there will always be a conflict with self. It is all about you. You cannot be of real use to others. Sure, you might be physically present in their life, but are you truly living in the moment? Or are you just physically there, but mentally bound to your troubles? When your self-centered thoughts and feelings are the focus of your existence, it is difficult to make meaningful connections with others.
You are not a bad person. You might even do nice things for others. You believe that you are thoughtful and caring. You spend money on the people you care about and on those who you want to care about you. Externally that all might be true, but aren’t you just doing all those things to find more relief and to feel better about your current state of unmanageability?
Do you live in fear? Do you spend more than you earn and panic when the bills arrive? Do you lay awake at night and worry that you will never be able to get out from under all the debt you are in? Do you see retirement as a possible option for others, but something that you would never be able to afford? Do you obsess over your finances in one thought, but follow it up with more spending that pushes you further away from having healthy finances? Do you feel hopeless?
Is this fear leading to other health concerns? Is it leading to weight gain or panic attacks? Have you gone to see your doctor because you feel overwhelmed? Did your doctor put you on meds to take the edge off and to help you cope?
There is a Solution
Yes, getting your finances in order is great, but you first need to get your mind right. I am not a therapist. I am just a guy with a personal finance blog. If you are honesty suffering from the symptoms that I listed above, you should seek outside help. Find out if your health insurance covers visits to a psychologist without a referral from your primary care doctor. If not, ask your doctor for a referral to one that they recommend. You might have to pay a low co-pay, but it will be worth it.
There are also 12-step programs. As I stated earlier, your spending might be just a symptom of a larger issue. There are 12-step programs for spending, gambling, drinking, and just about any other type of obsessive disease. It is up to you to dig deeper and decide if you think a 12-step solution would be a good fit for you.
Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t wallow in guilt, shame, remorse, or any other negative feeling. The past is the past. It is time to move on. Pick up the pieces. You are not a bad person. You might have made poor decisions and you might suffer from the disease of addiction. After you put your own house back in order, you can make amends to those you feel you might have harmed including yourself.
There is hope. There is also help available. It is now up to you to find the right help that will be a catalyst for positive change.
Once you get your mind right, great things will start to happen in your life. Not only will your financial situation improve, but every area of your life will get better. How could it not, you will be moving away from the problem and in the solution.
You will be able to better accept people and situations as they are. You will be able to let go of the past. You will better assimilate into the mainstream of life. You will become more useful to the people around you. You will finally find the peace that you have been searching for all along.
As a bonus, you should be able to better budget and save money. Your whole life will become more manageable. Having a few more bucks in the bank will just make life more enjoyable.
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