Let’s face it. Life can be a struggle. As one friend recently posted on Facebook “life is like a roller coaster! I HATE ROLLER COASTERS!” That post got me thinking. I too hate roller coasters, so much so, that I avoid places that have them just so I won’t even have to think about going on one.
But I can’t avoid the roller coaster called life. Sometimes I feel like I’m approaching the top…just cresting the hill to see that giant cliff staring me in the face. For me, that is the worst part of a roller coaster – that feeling of dread knowing that cliff is coming. I am learning to combat that dread though. Because the other knowledge I have come to understand about roller coasters is that there is always an uphill that comes after the drop.
There was a time in my life when I did not have this understanding, a time when I felt like I was staring down that cliff every day – I could not see the uphill that came after it.
I clearly remember that point in my life and always will. Waking up everyday and wondering what the point of anything was. Everything seemed hopeless and nothing in my life seemed to be working. Everything in my life seemed broken, including my financial situation.
I have since noticed this common theme with many other people. There is a strong correlation between emotional pain and financial woes. If your life is not going according to plan, it is likely going to show up somewhere in your finances.
When I was going through my divorce, I was depressed. I had no self-esteem left. I felt like a failure and this translated to the image I projected to the world. I also was not earning any money and had a belief that I would be poor for the remainder of my life. I used to look at my finances on an almost daily basis simply to confirm that yes, I was poor and then I extrapolated my poor financial situation to be a reflection of myself. I considered myself to be worthless, much like my bank account.
During this period, I was applying for jobs and seeing recruiters. I certainly had the qualifications to get many of these jobs but I did not hear back from a single employer.
While this was going on, I thought the problem was my lack of money. That was the cause of all my woes. If only I could have solved my cash inflow problem, I would have been fine.
That was my thinking.
My lack of money certainly was a problem.
But my lack of money was a symptom and not the root cause of what was going on with me. My emotional state was the cause of all my difficulties including my financial ones.
How do I know that it was my emotional state that was causing all my problems? Well, it has become obvious to me over time. As my emotional well-being has improved so has everything else in my life, including my finances.
When I think back to that time, I am grateful that I got on a path to fix my emotional well-being and did not fall into a trap to simply fix the symptoms. It was touch and go for a while which way my life would go and I credit good luck and the good advice of friends who got me onto a path that ended up truly helping me.
I had met a life coach – this was through the Minerva Foundation (an amazing organization). I was lucky enough to participate in their Career Kick Start program. The coach that was helping me recognized I was not in a good emotional state. She did not tell me this, but she listened to me and had the insight to give me the tools I needed to start to recognize it myself. This is another topic for a post, but when you are in a depression, you often don’t even realize it. Friends and family often don’t realize it. I can say, that no one knew how depressed I was. I can put on a brave face and many people can. Sometimes the only way to tell if someone is depressed is to look at the symptoms – one of which is a person’s finances.
One of the things this coach gave me was respite from feeling terrible about myself. The coaching sessions were the only times I had anything resembling hope in my life.
Then the course ended and I no longer got that respite. I sunk deeper and deeper until one day I did not want to go on.
It was at this point that I reached out to my coach in an email and she called me back right away. This was on a Friday. She gave me some emergency therapy and told me to go see my doctor I did a couple of the things she suggested that I do to get me out of my crisis and surprisingly they worked. I spent the weekend doing what she told me to do and by Sunday I had a moment where I felt hope. It was such and incredible feeling that it made me realize that there were things I could do to feel better.
I realized at this point that I could feel good even though my situation was exactly the same as it had been on Friday. I was still poor (in my mind), I was still worthless and un-employable. My family was still broken. Yet for some reason it didn’t seem to matter as much anymore.
I decided I wanted to feel better like this more often.
So I called my coach back and asked her if I could hire her. She told me how much it would cost (she gave me her deal rate). Her rates were pricey (she’s a good coach) and so it caused me a little bit of angst. Ok, it caused me a lot of angst. I mean MY LACK OF MONEY seemed to be the cause of my problems. Now I needed to find more. I started to loop again. I’m poor, I’m worthless, I need money, I don’t have money. I can’t hire my coach. This soundtrack started to play in my brain and again it seemed like money was the problem.
So I went to talk to my good friend who I relied on heavily to give me advice as I could not make my own decisions at this point of my life.
So I asked her advice. “Renée, you need the help now when you don’t have money. If you didn’t have money problems, you would not need the help.”
Wow – now that I read that, I realize how she knew money was a symptom and not the problem.
I hired my coach and she worked with me for six months.
Now this is the interesting part. During the six months I worked with my coach, my life situation did not change. All the circumstances in my life remained exactly the same and I still had no money coming in. The only thing that changed was the way I started to perceive things. My mental state was the only thing that changed. She helped me realize that I had worth despite my lack of cash inflows.
Then a crazy thing happened. As my feelings of self-worth improved, money started to flow into my life. It is clear to me now, but I had been projecting my low self esteem to everyone I met. It was no wonder no one would hire me.
Then my life turned into a positive feedback loop. I would feel better, people began hiring me for jobs, money started to come in which boosted my feelings of self-worth. I have to say – it was awesome and also a revelation to me. It still is.
I also started to notice that as I started to get stressed out or unhappy, things stopped working. I would stop working. I would do things to sabotage myself and it would show up in my finances in a negative way.
So now when I start to stress out about my financial situation, I start to look at what the underlying root cause is. There is always something else going on that is leading to my current financial predicament.
Are you stressed about your finances? I challenge you to investigate what is really going on.