29 Jul 2011
- Written by Lucy Shaw
Dear Lucy: Sometimes I feel like I am in a prison! I don’t think I will ever be out of debt. Every time I try to get out, something comes up to take me back in. Why don’t you ever write about how to get out of debt?
Dear Reader: What a great question. Independence comes in many ways. The problems we want to feel freedom from can range from money to relationships, to jobs and the list is infinite. These three are the most common. Independence and freedom are all about our ability to feel safe and secure. When we are secure, we are usually happy.
To answer your question, I don’t write a lot in the column about it because I don’t get a lot of questions about it. I also don’t talk about it because it is not a very simple matter and frankly works best as a class.
But, I will say this: The first step to freedom in any situation is how we think about it!
Stop saying that you are in prison or bondage. Freedom is first and foremost a state of mind. To assume that you are imprisoned by your debt is to give it all the power over you and to place you in a helpless position. When you are imprisoned by the debt, you are always expecting to be in the prison. Decide that this debt does not define who you are.
The other thing we tend to do when we are in debt is to feel guilty. The presence of guilt implies the need to be punished. So, as long as you are feeling guilty about your bills, you invite and expect to be punished for them. When people are found guilty they go to jail, right?
So, maybe it is your fault. But, feeling guilty will not pay the bills. Finding a way to stop doing whatever it is you feel guilty about; developing a plan and sticking to it, and creating honest and reasonable terms with your creditors for payment are useful strategies. In my classes on debt, I help people to get at the feelings that drive the behaviors that keep them in debt.
Stay tuned to the column and I will probably have a class in August or September on debt. In the meantime, give yourself permission to get out of jail and stop agreeing with being in prison!
Happy Independence Day!