It’s hard to relieve your anxiety about money if you can’t make ends meet. And if you repeatedly hear news of economic doom and gloom, it can scare you into believing the end is truly near. Your money worries may be extreme, but you can save yourself from additional panic by focusing on what you can do something about, and learning to ignore the rest.
Taking the long view.
There is no denying the economy is still struggling, and the news is often bleak. But there are also people out to make a buck selling a terrifying future. Don’t buy into their fears.
There is a guy in a TV ad right now, warning of an upcoming economic disaster, which he says will be the “worst in the history of mankind.” Seriously? Worse than the sack of Rome, the Dark Ages? The tsunami that destroyed the Minoans, or caused Noah’s flood? The Black Death? World wars? Worse than anything in 10,000 or so years? I feel like writing to him to say, “Get real.”
We ordinary mortals have always lived amidst events beyond our control. It can be difficult, but we still survive and prosper. Your first step toward relieving your money anxiety starts with not believing the disaster hype, and focusing on the only economy that matters. Yours.
What can you control? Plenty. You have it in your power to control what you earn and what you spend. If your job has disappeared or been cutback, you may feel powerless right now. But you are still the one who decides what you want to learn, and what steps to take toward a new career. Your new life may not begin immediately, but this is still your movie to star in. This is still your ship to sail. And making decisions gives you strength.
Every positive step makes you more powerful. Whether you have a piggy bank or investment accounts, any money you add to your plus column builds not only your bank balance, but also your sense of security and options for the future. Every penny you choose not to waste on something that doesn’t really satisfy you, adds to your self- image of someone in control.
Take a good look at what you really need. You can choose to relinquish feeling deprived and instead make a positive decision to live a simpler life. Living with less can be an amazingly freeing experience. The less effort you put into acquiring, the less anxiety you actually feel.
Let go of your “should have” list. When we are young, people ask us our goals, and often encourage us to follow some predetermined path. But, as the cliché goes, “life is what happens while you were making other plans.”
Anxiety or depression can both occur whenever our present comes nowhere near how we pictured it would be, and we failed to hit some arbitrary mark. By now, we may think, we “should have” had a certain job title or amount of money, a certain kind of family, a certain kind of home.
Take a look at your old life plan. Are your targets something you really wanted, or are you still trying to please your parents or others in your life? Are you trying to remake yourself into someone else’s mold? Letting go of other people’s expectations allows you to let go of the anxiety they bring, so you can be happier with who you really are.
Learn new skills that give you confidence. My grandmother lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s. She grew vegetables and raised chickens, mended and made do. All she needed was raw ingredients to create tasty meals.
Me, I have few of those abilities. Many of us would be helpless without technology, and have lost traditional skills that allow us do things for ourselves. Skills like gardening, even in pots, canning, or cooking from scratch make us feel more self-reliant, and capable. And, some people actually enjoy them.
Whatever your interests, the more you learn the less you will feel dependent on circumstances, or anxious about the future.
Use healthy strategies to feel better. In the late 1970s the public was warned to store a year’s worth of food and bury silver in their back yards, in preparation for the coming economic collapse. Not organized enough to be a survivalist, I bypassed these strategies. Good thing, too, as the crisis never happened and I didn’t have to eat up any freeze dried stew.
If it makes you feel better to have a full pantry, or add precious metals to your portfolio, it’s probably okay in moderation. Hoarding is not healthy. Strategies like exercise and meditation will do more to help you deal with financial stress, and the anxiety it brings.
Focus on your blessings, and believe in a better tomorrow. To relieve our anxiety about money, it really does help to focus our attention on how abundant our lives already are. Life is more than our bank account, and we have blessings all around us. The more we focus on the good in life, the less anxious we will be.
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