Standing out as being poor in a rich man’s world is tricky and takes courage. When other people around you are seemingly able to afford things without difficulty, it feels lonely and alienating to be the one who can’t. Peer pressure, to be like others, can play havoc with our purse, as we don’t want to be the odd one out, worse still admit that we can’t afford it.
There are associations of failure with not having money. Even in the current economic climate, perhaps even greater now is the gap between those that can afford and those who can’t. While some people are better off because interest rates are keeping mortgage repayments low and so many people actually have more disposable income, others are in desperate positions, battling rising prices for all the basics of life, rent, food and fuel. For many of us it’s hard enough to stay self-disciplined and live within our means, without the miserable feelings of failure that go along with it.
Poor and Happy or Poor and Miserable?
So what can we do to remain resilient in these times? People say that money doesn’t make you happy, and some reply to that, I’d rather be miserable and rich than miserable and poor. The other side of this coin too is I’d rather be poor and happy than poor and miserable. So the important thing is accepting the situation with money , either way – we have it or we don’t, but it doesn’t have to control how we feel. So how do we stay happy whilst worrying if we can afford to put food on the table and fuel in the car? Well that’s the starting point – worrying about it is not going to change it. Worrying is a function entirely of our mind and is all about the fears we have around money.
How to turn off Money Worry
How do I know this? Because I’m experiencing it first hand. I’ve been self-employed all my life pretty much and so am well acquainted with the ups and downs in income that go with this. So I’m used to tightening my belt in the down times. However, this year has been more of a down than an up and I find myself in about the worst financial position I’ve ever known, the belt is getting so tight that I’ve felt at times like I can’t breathe. But, I decided that however difficult it is I choose not to let my financial situation become my life and for me not to become it. I keep those two separate. I see it as just that – my financial circumstances and so I deliberately create some distance between myself and my situation. This is the first step in controlling my feelings and staying happy even in the worst of times.
When I catch myself starting to worry, I notice the thought that I’m having and how it correspondingly makes me feel worse and so I literally say to myself, worrying about it isn’t going to change it. Then I focus on all the things that are good, I’m healthy, I have great friends, I enjoy the company of my wonderful dog, the sun has come up this morning, the world is an amazing place, and I shift my thoughts right up to imagining I’m out in space looking back at the marvel that is our planet and the vastness of the universe. So now I have loads of distance from my current situation. And this word is significant too – I always it describe as my current situation – that is, it’s as things are now but it’s not permanent.
Now this one can become a little tricky and challenge the most resilient of us, as my situation has been current now for almost a year. But this is an important one, because it frames it for me in the context that it will be different, at some point and it this is that can help to keep you optimistic. Creating this space between you and the situation too can do wonders for helping with the feelings of failure and allows you to see it more as a problem to solve, a challenge to rise to and be resourceful and then you can build self esteem and feel good about yourself for the way you are handling a difficult situation.
Look for the Gifts
There are gifts even in the worst of times, we just have to be a little creative in looking for them. It’s been interesting to notice all the gifts that I’ve had during these hard times. An email popped into my inbox offering 20% of groceries online just when I was needing to do a shop. My landline service was too expensive, so I signed up with a new one offering six months free with a £50 gift card for groceries. The chemist had a Buy 1 Get 1 Free offer on the shampoo I bought. Seemingly small things, but I’m so grateful for what are gifts and so significant when literally every penny counts. I’m also grateful for friends who have been able to help me out, but only after I had to overcome the feelings of shame and failure associate with asking for help and the feelings of being indebted which for someone very used to being independent, this is a tricky one for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had days when I’ve felt wretched and shed many tears with the stress of financial difficulty, but I’ve also treated those days as transient and when at their worst, I’ve gone to bed to give myself space and distance from the day and gone to sleep in the sure knowledge that tomorrow will be another day and I know I will feel different in the morning.