I am sure we can all relate to this statement, personally and professionally. In fact, do you ever feel that you have more to handle than your current capacity allows when it comes to money? At one time or another – perhaps now, even – have you felt that you:
Are carrying too much debt
Have more money going out (expenses) than money coming in (income)
Lack sufficient savings
Lack sufficient discipline
Juggle competing [financial] priorities
Would have more – more money, more things, more time, etc. – if your spouse or significant-other were better with money
Were financially unprepared for a job loss or the lost of a major client if you own a business
By no means is the above meant to be an exhaustive list of what can trigger financial stress. I ask you, though, to look beyond the specific examples and to instead focus on the universal life lessons embedded in these, and actually all, stress triggers. In doing so, you can turn stress into your friend.
Lesson #1 – Pay Attention
Frequently, the “thing” that is causing you stress didn’t happen overnight. It’s been building up over time and eventually reached that point where it was more than you could handle. In other words, it tipped into stressful territory.
Action to take: Commit to paying attention to what is happening around you, to you, for you and “in” you. The more tuned in you are, the less stress you’ll have because there will be fewer surprises to catch you off guard.
Lesson #2 – Accept What Is
There is an insidious element to stress that has absolutely nothing to do with the trigger and everything to do with how you look at the trigger and the resulting consequences. It can be summed up in one word: acceptance.
Part of the issue with stress is that often it is caused because what “is” is different from what is “desired.”
Let’s say carrying too much debt is causing you stress. The debt in and of itself isn’t necessarily what is causing you discomfort; the source of the dis-ease is the fact that even though the debt was amassed gradually, you want it to disappear…and most likely, right away – the “what is” is different from the “what you desire”! It is important to recognize that what is often described as stress is actually the friction created when the reality of what you are experiencing does not line up with what you had expected or wanted.
Action to take: Stay in the present moment. It may sound cliché but it is truly the only way to mitigate the physical and emotional affects of stress. Don’t longingly look back to try and re-write the past; likewise, remember that your future is created now with the choices you make in the present moment.
Lesson #3 – Remember mistakes happen, perfection is an illusion and peace is the goal
None of us can escape the reality of having made a financial mistake or misjudgment in the past; nor is it likely that we will completely avoid doing so again. Yet you wouldn’t necessarily know this given the plethora of financial to-dos, don’t dos, information and tips that abound; all of which seem to be geared towards helping you do the impossible – avoid making a mistake. And you definitely wouldn’t know this based on our society’s cultural proclivity to be perfect.
Actions to take:
a) Look for opportunities to make stress your friend…might as well since stress is a natural part of life
b) Recognize that some mistakes are simply unavoidable
c) Remember that life is designed in such a way that often your most valuable lessons come through mistakes (be it your own or another person’s). Besides, perfection deludes you into paying more attention to the outcome (for example, getting out of debt) rather than on the process that leads to the outcome (for example, looking at your beliefs, thoughts and behavior with money)
d) Focus less on being perfect and more on having a plan of action when you do make a mistake. Having a workable plan is the best way to turn a mistake into a learning tool, which can become a springboard for peace
e) Keep in mind that peace comes from acknowledging your mistake and creating boundaries to ensure the same mistake doesn’t occur again.
What triggers [financial] stress varies from person to person, as does the degree. But, the next time you feel the scales have tipped and your financial demands exceed your capacity choose not to become overwhelmed. Look at it as life’s way of signaling to you that you are ready to handle more! So instead, welcome the experience…it comes to teach you a valuable lesson that you’ll only get if you pay attention, stay present and release any attachment you may have to being “perfect.”