The one on debt - where did it all come from??
This is probably one of the most emotionally charged topics for me out of all of them. Mostly because I personally struggled financially for over a decade. I do feel money is also one of the most important areas of life one can master – why is that? To put it simply – because it’s connected to one of our most basic needs – the need to feel safe. Yes, many people will jump up right now and say that money isn’t the most important thing in the world and it definitely cannot buy happiness. All correct, HOWEVER without an adequate source of income, happiness is really hard to come by. And all because we don’t feel safe and secure about what tomorrow brings. To add insult to the injury, if you have debt – it is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a human being since it literally enslaves you. I, myself, racked up a huge amount of debt at some point (it was honestly enormous) and after I finally got out I decided to find out why we get into debt in the first place. Is it purely an external circumstance or more of a personality trait? Well, it turns out it’s quite a complex mix of psychology, Pavlov’s dogs and generational wisdom.
Naturally, it is possible that you lose your job and your income, possibly even get into some sort of debt for a short while– so an external factor can certainly be at play here.. However, it looks like if your core beliefs around money are wired correctly this won’t become a structural problem and having found a new job you’ll get out of this rut pretty quickly. The” fun” bit is that very often it just ain’t the case and there is a lot of psychology tied up in there –
It is proven that people who are dependent on other people’s opinions of them are much more prone to overspend and buy stuff they don’t need. Why? To keep up with the Joneses. It comes down to our own insecurities and caring about what people will think and tying our value to things we own. Scary stuff, that one. And the worst thing is – no matter how much you buy you’ll never feel good enough. There will always be another Chanel bag, another bigger badder car or a larger house. The problem doesn’t lie in the possessions we own, it’s about facing up to why we feel we have to be or look a certain way to be good enough.
Lack of purpose, boredom, loneliness or even depression. This one is a big one. Do you have nothing to do? Why not go shopping and get an instant rush of endorphins! It’s much easier to overspend in periods of feeling down. This unfortunately simply perpetuates the cycle since overspending tends to make us feel even worse in the long run.
Harmful core beliefs around money. This is probably one of the hardest ones to get rid of. Have you spend your childhood hearing your parents fight over money? Or perhaps you heard them say over and over again – “we have no money”? Or maybe your parents spent their entire lives in debt? There is a large chance you’ll inherit those same beliefs and simply push wealth out of your way as an adult. We tend to emulate what our parents do on a subconscious level, even if we think that we don’t want to behave in a similar way. Thankfully there are psychologists who are trained to overturn just this.
The lack of belief that you’ll ever be able to get out. Once you find yourself quite firmly settled in debt it then becomes easy to believe you’ll never be able to get out, so why even bother trying? This is a dangerous period where spending can go up quite drastically.
No doubt there are other variations of why we rack up debt - but I guess I wanted my main message here to be that buying stuff you don’t need is not going to make you happier. Of course we can all get into tough situations where we lose our jobs and get into debt, I’m talking about a more structural issue here. If you find yourself numbing out on spending, trying to keep up with the neighbours or losing your sense of purpose these may be clues for changing something in your life instead of buying a Chanel bag – a message to my younger self :).