Every moment of our waking existence is bombarded with external stimuli of overload and supply. We are encouraged and coerced towards an existence of gluttony and consumption. In the process we have developed unhealthy habits and ideals about how we should engage with society, and it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate between what we desire, what we want and what we need. Most worrying is how the world we live in has created a false sense of “to be happy we must have it all!” The question of “how much is enough” has never been more relevant than now.
A stark contrast to this demand is that we have to participate or “fit in” with society. Being framed with judgement and shame, we are expected to be perfect and responsible. If things get out of hand or when we lose control or fail at something, we are perceived as careless, ignorant and irresponsible. Throughout our lives we are exposed to the hidden messages of our past, the expectations, beliefs and assumptions created by the life stories we live in. This is underlined by our value systems, our culture and interpretations that will guide the decisions we make, whether it’s financial or otherwise.
It is therefore no surprise that with such conflicting pressures a recent study found that nearly 40% of people are experiencing financial stress. Whereas an additional 10% experience deep-set anxiety, which contribute to the unhealthy behaviours and habits that make them lose control of their finances. Surprisingly very few people reach out for help, out of fear for being seen as a failure, and often the reality of living with the shame of disappointing their families.
To admit that you experience and suffer from either of these afflictions in your life is the first step toward the journey of courageously taking control back in your life. The second step is to understand the difference between stress and anxiety, and the third step is to reach out for appropriate help and support.
Stress is caused by the impact of an external stimuli or threat. The immediate response is to realise that you are unable to deal with the uncertainty of what this brings to your normal way of life. Changes in life’s circumstances can trigger a stress response of being overwhelmed with shock and the perceived lack of your own ability to deal with the issue at hand. For example like losing your job or losing a loved one. These aspects can be addressed by helping to overcome the fear and uncertainty that causes that kind of stress. The best advice is to consult with a professional, a broker or specialist that can help you in this situation. Telling you what to do and how to do it will help eliminate the immediate stress, with regards to budgeting or debt management strategies. Also helping you reframe the stressful issue positively can help, such as to remind you where you’ve successfully overcome similar challenges in the past. Often this relationship is short-term and transactional in nature. It is to find the quick fix which can deal with the issue that causes the stress. Focusing on the problem, discussing the specifics and possible solutions, even providing you with a to-do lists, is a way the external stimuli can be removed by addressing the problem directly by fixing or resolving it for you.
On the other hand these stress strategies can in fact increase the anxiety financial related symptoms. Fixing something by removing the stimuli will not have any effect on feeling anxious or out of control. Sufferers will find that anxiety hangs about even after the problem is seemingly “resolved”.
This is because anxiety originates from an internalised way of being that may not be caused by an external trigger. Anxiety can therefore trigger those behaviours that can be bad for you. It is likened to a sense of panic or shock that re-emerges time and again. It confirm that the underlying cause and source still need to be explored. In relation to finances, this could typically mean that despite strategies, like spending management or budgeting tools that can help control the stress, can in fact aggravate your anxiety. Often this creates feelings of no control, helplessness and it can spill over into panic or extreme worry. Some experience it as “there being no way out”… One of my clients explains it as “A pinning down of some sort” – by an invisible force…
When you experience anxiety, it is important to recognise the difference of how it presents relatively to stress, emotions and feelings.
If you suffer from anxiety, you are best advised to engage with a skilled professional. You need someone that has the expertise to guide you through the process of understanding what is really happening in a safe way and in a safe space with you. It is a journey of having meaningful conversations about your (money) anxiety issues, and how and why you relate to (money) or it the way you do. You are empowered to build awareness and to recognise financial limitations, assumptions and beliefs. Instead of telling you what to do, this type of engagement will have the professional asked questions, with the aim towards providing perspective for your own life. It is done without judgement, and you will navigate your way toward making healthier decisions, and generate those habits that can serve you better. This is done whilst helping you identify and treasuring your essential qualities, in order for you to control the best outcome of achieving your goals. In a way this type of engagement helps you get control of you in your life, instead of life controlling you! In relation to finances these types of professionals are known in the industry as Financial Coaches or Certified Financial Planners or Debt Counsellors.
Gift yourself with reaching out for support – it is never too late!
Let your life be enriched and work with people that are able to provide you with guidance, tools, education and support. Work with professionals when things keep going wrong, so that you can identify and practice to develop new skills, and capabilities to release you from self-limiting anxiety triggers. As guidance partner they will recognise and acknowledge the growth and progress you make along the way. Ultimately you will benefit from leading a calmer, more balanced and fulfilled life, providing you with peace of mind of what is possible for you…and that IS ENOUGH…
We tank our guest author Terry Dot for her contribution to our blog page and sharing her valuable experience and expertise to support consumers to seek the support when dealing with debt that is draining the finances and causing panic and anxiety.
What is your plan for the next five years to build a secure financial future. The past mistakes is in the past, only the future matters going forward.