How to Handle the Emotional Strain of Debt

Tips For Coping With Debt Related Stress

It’s easy to get into debt. All of us want what we want. If we see something we’ve always wanted, we buy it. But if a person wants more than his or her money resources, debt can stack up quickly.

When this happens, a lot of emotions can build up: frustration, fear, anger and anxiety. These emotions sometimes can be positive in small dozes. But when we let these emotions get control of us, our situation can become much worse or even seemingly hopeless. Just remember that debt is something that most everyone has been in at one time or another, so don’t feel like you’re lost on an island.

Don’t be ruled by your emotions. Here’s how to avoid debt putting an unbearable emotional strain on you.

1. Avoid Denial

Denial is a self-defense common to the person in debt. This is a way of escaping hard reality. If we can escape the implications of a coming debt catastrophe, it gives us some release.

Unfortunately, this only makes matters worse. The first step to solving a problem is recognizing you have a problem. Acknowledge to yourself that you are in the financial deep waters.

2. Have a Confidante

How To Handle The Emotional Strain Of DebtTalk to a friend or family about your debt problem. I’m not talking about asking for help; I’m simply talking about having someone to unload on. Try to choose someone who will listen and be non-judgemental. You may not be looking for advice or financial assistance, but a psychologist or confessor. This is healthy.

Keeping your debt problem a secret is a burden on your mind. Finding even one person can be a huge lift. If you can be honest with your confidante, you can be honest with yourself. And a little friendly common sense advice never hurt someone.

3. Understand Your Actions

All of us overspend for some reason. Maybe we have trouble with self-discipline, buying things we know we don’t need. Maybe we want to “keep up with the Joneses”, when your friends or family have more money to spend. Maybe there are deeper financial problems, like a gambling addiction.

Whatever the case, recognize the reasons you spend more than you make. Once you begin to reason through this in a calm, logical fashion, you’ll be better prepared to take the steps needed to get out of debt.

4. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

At this point, it’s natural to blame yourself for all the “stupid” decisions you’ve made. Both those are a thing of the past. Learn from them, don’t make them again and move on.

Beating yourself up isn’t productive. You know you made a mistake; dwelling on that mistake only makes it worse. Instead, focus on how you are going to right that mistake. Procrastination, guilt and self-pity are not going to make the problem go away.

5. Avoid Self-Destructive Behavior

Don’t be your own worst enemy. I had a friend who dealt with his bad finances in a self-defeating, self-destructive fashion; he tore up his home entertainment center in a fit of rage.

That’s extreme, but there are many ways to punish oneself for a perceived mistake. Understand that punishing yourself by putting yourself in a deeper financial hole is self-destruction.

The only way to fix your debt situation is to take steps to fix it. In this situation, you are your own best friend. You got into debt by making questionable choices. The way your are getting out of debt is to make good choices.

If you want to destroy something, cut up your credit cards. It will make you feel better.

6. Plan For A Debt-Free Life

Make a realistic plan for pulling yourself out of debt. Once you have a plan, you have hope.

It might take a while–even a long while–to get out of debt. But setting realistic goals is the logical way to handle debt and credit. This will get you focusing on the future, not the past. You will be in the real of reason, not of regret.

7. Treat Yourself For a Job Well Done

A lot of adults like to treat themselves for putting up with the day-to-day grind of life. This might be a little childish, since that’s how we were rewarded as children. But this is also the perfect way to get into debt, if our treats are too frequent and too extravagant.

At the same time, rewarding yourself for a job well done is perfectly valid, psychologically. It helps to set benchmarks. The big payoff is coming at the end of your debt plan. But it’s healthy to having a series of little payoffs along the way.

Treat yourself when you reach a goal or benchmark. Make this a small treat that isn’t going to set you back in your big goals. Something small like a CD or blouse or something is what I’m talking about.

8. Stay Positive

A lot of what I’m talking about is maintaining positive energy. That is sometimes the hardest thing to do when faced with debt apocalypse. But a large part of positive energy is creation and self-help. No doubt, you will have moments of weakness and self-doubt along the way. Keeping a generally positive outlook will assure your debt situation won’t be an unbearable emotional burden.

9. Consult a Professional

If any of the suggestions above is too much for you to handle alone, consider consulting a professional. Sometimes a problem overspending is a symptoms of something deeper. Some people are not naturally positive thinkers. In these cases, there is nothing wrong with consulting a professional who is trained to help.

Some might find a professional counsellor to be an extravagance, especially when trying to dig out of debt. There are help groups in most communities which can provide support and general positivity. The point being, if you cannot go it alone, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

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