Letting Go of Money Worries
When you’re overwhelmed by money worries, life can seem very discouraging. But it’s hard to let go of money worries.
That’s because you spend your time focused on the things that worry you — how will I pay those bills? will I ever get out of debt? when am I going to find a new job? — instead of spending your time taking action. When you’re worrying about stuff that might or might not happen in the future, you’re not doing. And doing is what will change your life.
Letting go of money worries is a 3-step process
(The same process that’s used to let go of any other types of worry.)
First, you need to become aware that you are worrying. If you’re a habitual worrier like I used to be, chances are you’re so used to worry as a way of life that you’ve lost sight of the fact that you even are pretty much constantly worrying. Worry involves having automatic negative thoughts about a subject. Basically, you’re thinking negative things without even realizing that you’re doing so.
So start paying attention to what your thoughts actually are. Whenever you find yourself thinking about a subject for more than a minute, mentally step aside to see what it is you’re thinking about.
Then, if your thoughts are negative or non-productive, literally tell yourself to STOP. Out loud, if you have to. For me that sounds like a stern “Ok, STOP.” Take a deep breath, and — if you can — instead write down some things you can do to improve your situation. If you can’t think of anything, you can make “ask for help with ideas” your action item. If you start worrying again at this point, repeat the STOP and redirect your thoughts to something positive instead.
The final step is to actually do one or more of those action items. If you want to get out of debt fast, pick a debt to target and send some money to it — even if it’s only a dollar. ANY kind of action will help. If you want to get a new job, get out your resume and post it somewhere, or set up a LinkedIn profile.
What if you have to wait to take action?
Most money worries are solvable, and most do have immediate steps you can take to improve your situation. So you’ll feel better as soon as you take those steps. Every now and then though, there really are situations where there aren’t any actions you can take right now. Maybe you’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, and no job or a $40,000 a year income.
In that situation, you have to recognize that you are already doing the best that you can — once you’ve called and set up a payment plan, checked to see if the bills can be waived, asked multiple people about your options, and maybe even declared bankruptcy. When you’ve done all you can in a particular situation, that’s enough.
Enough really is enough, even if it doesn’t feel like it. At that point you’ve just got to continually redirect your worried thoughts to the areas you can do more in instead — which might be completely unrelated to money. Or they might be related to other money-areas: to things like getting rid of old clothes and donating them to charity. Focus outward on things you can have an impact on, and you’ll feel better.