Before I start seriously tackling my financial situation and writing about it earnestly, I need to take two steps in the right direction.
Step 1: I need to be completely transparent with myself and my potential readers.
I am in the process of paying down $38,000 of debt. That includes $9,000 in credit card debt, a $15,000 car payment, and over $14,000 owed to my mother for previous loans and graduate school. Those numbers are nice and neat for the purpose of this post, but I assure you that I have created spreadsheets breaking down money in and out down to the penny.
Why do I need to take this step? I’m really good at two things: compartmentalizing stress and shrugging my shoulders. When I look at money owed individually, it doesn’t feel quite that serious enough for me to make drastic changes to better my financial life. Compartmentalization is quite dangerous for me. I’m also really good at the “no big deal” mentality. Everyone has debt, right? It’s not a big deal. I don’t need to worry about it… Again, if I don’t find a way to take this seriously, I will never be able to change.
Step 2: I need to relieve myself of any guilt associated with my finances.
This does not mean that I am denying responsibility or accountability when addressing the hole I’ve dug. Relieving myself of guilt means that I will put a stop to the maladaptive thoughts that turn into a constant mental chatter: I can’t believe you let yourself do this… Do you know how much money you would have if you didn’t buy all that crap? Were those purchases really worth it? How could you borrow so much money from family?
Why do I need to take this step? These thought processes, when constant, do absolutely nothing to support positive mental health. Instead of feeding preexisting anxiety and mood disorders (more on that in future posts), I am going to take this second step, one deep breath and repeat this to myself until it sinks in:
I take ownership of the choices I’ve made without self-deprecating thoughts. I have a new outlook, new plan, and new goals. This is a learning experience—one that I will not take for granted.
I know that sounds a little silly, and there is actually some controversy over whether or not self-affirmations have sufficient evidence to back up their use by psychologists since the 1920s. I do know that self-affirmations have helped me in the past, so I’ll keep this one here for now.
“The mind is everything. What you think you become.”