In today’s guest post, John Dulworth, graciously shares how he’s handling the beast called debt – revealing what both prompted his inaction and what he discovered was necessary for targeted, empowered action. Read his story with an eye for your own (even if you don’t have debt). Enjoy!
When Jacquette asked me to write a piece on the relationship between debt and shame my answer was an enthusiastic “YES!” You see, I am fascinated by the relationship between things and in my life shame and debt, but more specifically the behaviors that lead to debt, have a symbiotic kind of relationship. One depends on the other for its very existence.
But before I get to that, I want to talk about the other reason I said yes to Jacquette’s request. It’s a bit of my story and in it I invite you to listen for your own story.
Shame: The big, bad wolf
You see, I’m in the wake of having just processed four years of tax returns. All at once. And let me tell you, the news I received from the IRS and the State of New York was not an easy pill to swallow – not for this small business owner. Seemingly overnight I went from a man with manageable debt to a man with substantial debt.
Even as I write that, I can feel the tinge of shame and blame stirring inside of me. The narrative (and this is the tame version) goes something like this:
“How could you have let it get this far?” “How could you have been so irresponsible?” “How could you – of all people – just ignore what you knew needed to be done?” “What does this say about you as a coach and a business owner??”
Yup, there it is. Cleaned up for public consumption but you get the point.
You see, we always have a narrative running through our head. Always. And because we tend to give over so much power to it, this very narrative ends up driving our choices and actions. It’s not always self destructive, but it can be depending on what we’re up to in our lives. Listen closely and that narrative is where you’ll find your shame along with its cohorts, self doubt and blame.
Learn to identify that inner narrative, get a handle on it, do your work with it and you’ll stand a good chance of breaking its hold on you. Work with it and you can turn it from adversary to advocate. Don’t do your work with it and you and your life might just become a prisoner of it. (In part II of this piece I’ll outline specific ways you can do just that.)
The narrative that ultimately led me to my mess started back in the early days of being a first-time business owner. In my head was a little, nagging self doubt. “I don’t know how to do this tax thing on my own” ran through my mind a lot those days and, unattended, it triggered fear and with that fear came more doubt and more narrative.
“I’ve never really, truly been good with money” came next.
Because I didn’t turn and face this narrative, by default I cultivated it. Ultimately I believed it and acted out of it. I began to corroborate with it. Because of that, it took root and like one of those aggressive and invasive species of weeds eventually it consumed me.
Along the way the shame I felt about my situation began dictating all of my actions around that situation.
For four long years, I avoided the entire growing mess. And with each passing year I doubted myself more which made me act in ways that took me further and further out of integrity. The further I got out of integrity, the more I believed my worst thoughts about myself.
The shame I felt was actually fueling the behavior I longed to shift. It kept me stuck. And the longer it went on, the more I believed my darkest thoughts about myself. Ugh. Sound familiar??
Say, “yes!” to your super hero power
Finally…someone said to me: “John, until you turn and face this thing, you will always believe it is a monster in your closet.” Something about that statement got to me. In an instant, I got that this monster was an act of pure imagination and if I was imagining it, I could un-imagine it.
And so I did. I turned to face the monster. And in doing so, I was reminded of a lesson I’d already learned but had forgotten.
There is magic in action.
What I needed was a way out of this spiral. What I needed was a super hero to come and save me!! Turns out, that super hero was me and that super hero’s super power was action towards the very thing that I’d been avoiding.
And so I grabbed my cape and started taking action. With each act I took, I felt my fear subside. With each action I felt my sense of strength and confidence return. The way out of the hole I’d dug for myself took a lot of courage. But as my own super hero, I found I had a lot of courage and I found that every action gave me more.
I was soon going to need every bit of that courage I was amassing because my ultimate challenge was just coming over the horizon.
In part 2 of this article, we’ll get specific. I’ll introduce you to the steps YOU can take to address that narrative in your head. I’ll walk you through a process that when used consistently can turn a shame based mindset into one of support and advocacy.
Until then, over the coming days, I invite you to notice where and when your inner narrative turns shameful and how it drives your choices and actions.
About our guest blogger: John Dulworth is a Transformational Coach living in Manhattan, New York. As a coach, John blends the best of his professional life with his personal journey. He has a natural, fun and comfortable approach that respects the wisdom of the individual and the richness of each life. Clients who engage in John’s process will know fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced decision making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence as they move through their world. They can also expect to see appreciable results in the areas of productivity, personal satisfaction with life and work as well as the achievement of personally relevant goals. To learn more about John, click here.
p.s. ready to get unstuck? Ready to face your shame of debt head-on? Register for the free webinar – “Got Unmanageable Debt? Tackle it With Four Small Steps & Experience Big Wins.” To learn more, click here. It happens on 1/9 at 8pm EST.
For Christmas, I got a TV. I can just imagine the look on your face right about now as you read that statement.
If you don’t know my television history, your look is probably accompanied by a question along the lines of, “and what does that have to do with me?” And if you do know my story, your reaction is either, “well, it’s about time!” Or, you are just as shocked as I was as I looked at a box, hidden in plain sight, containing a 32″ flat screen TV asking, “What’s this?” I kid you not…
In a moment, I’ll flush out what my lovely new TV has to do with you, but first some context: It’s not that I didn’t own a television (although I don’t watch it much); it’s just that I’ve had my now “old” set since 1989 – rabbit ears and all! And because I don’t have a cable subscription, I also have the digital TV converter box. Go ahead and laugh, it’s okay –
But my “old” TV worked just fine.
However, now that I have this fancy-dancy thing, I can’t believe what I’ve been missing. The picture quality is AMAZING! The colors are crisp, clear and vibrant. TV watching in my own house never looked so good.
New Year Ruminations
My Christmas present got me to thinking about clichés, comfort and paths that go unexplored.
There are two popular clichés:
Cliché #1 – You can’t miss what you never had.
Cliché #2 – You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
The major problem with the above is this:
What if you don’t know what you’re missing until you get what you didn’t have?
Need examples? Think about that awesome relationship where you are getting (or got) more than you asked for…in a good way! Or, think of that job that – to your surprise – surpassed your wildest dreams and expectations and is (or was) the best career move you didn’t plan.
Just like with my old TV, where (or what) in your life is working just fine – there’s nothing particularly wrong. You are quite cozy in your comfort zone. In this state, you don’t really know what you’re missing because you aren’t experiencing any pain or discomfort, which usually is what plants the seed that a change is needed.
At this time of the year, there is plenty of talk about new goals, new to-dos, and new resolutions. All declared with the intent of this year being better than ever. And in typical fashion, what triggers the desire for the “new” is that something is wrong with the current. But, what about when the “current” is cool?
What to do when your tank is full
When your tank is full, you don’t always know what you’re missing – or what to ask to discover what you’re missing to make your experience over-the-top great. Courtesy of my TV experience, here’s a suggestion to strengthen that muscle: As you reflect on the year that has passed and contemplate the year that is ahead, experiment with reframing how you create some of your 2013 goals, to-dos and resolutions.
You have probably already addressed those areas where you want a transformation from pain to pleasure or discomfort to comfort.
Now take an inventory of the areas of your life where things are rolling along just fine — they are working — and sit with the question: what would make my full tank overflow?
See, I told you my there was a connection between my new TV and you! And here’s to hoping your New Year is off to a fantastic start, setting just the tone you want for the days to follow. Happy New Year!
p.s. if your financial tank is running on empty and debt is the culprit, register for our FREE webinar – “Got Unmanageable Debt? Tackle it With Four Small Steps & Experience Big Wins.” Click here to find out more.