Financial hardship can make you feel like the walls are closing in and there’s no escape in sight. This situation evokes the urge to panic. However, panicking has never been an effective approach to problem-solving.
When things go wrong, you need a plan. Sometimes a little help is required to create one. The following four coping skills will get you started, helping you to not only survive but thrive, during financial hard times.
1| Get Real
You’re financially in trouble, but how did you get here? Take this opportunity to be brutally honest with yourself. If you can get to the bottom of how you got into the mess in the first place, you can figure out how to begin digging yourself out of it.
For example, has your spending gotten out of control? Don’t beat yourself up, lifestyle creep is a thing anyone can fall prey to and we should all be aware of it. If this is an issue for you, take a hard look at what you need and what you don’t. Perhaps begin cultivating an appreciation for non-monetary things (birding, drawing, singing, dancing, a walk in the park with a friend, etc.). Sometimes all that is needed to spend less money is to place more value on things that money can’t buy.
2| Take Manageable Bites
When tackling a problem, just as when eating a meal, it’s sensible to take small bites. This facilitates smoother functioning from start to finish. If you look at an issue as a solid, impenetrable, monolith the tendency is to create feelings of overwhelm. Contrarily, when you break things down into smaller pieces you can see a way forward.
Take the pieces you identify and pick out the priority. Work on that first and once it’s completed move on to the next. This will help you remain focused and keep your energy moving coherently forward, rather than scattering in a million directions.
3| Give Yourself A Break
This could be taken literally, and perhaps it should be, but it’s also a reminder to slow down and reflect on your situation. Take a step back and consider things from a different perspective. Rather than focusing on what is going wrong, think about what is going right in your life.
Taking a break from habitual thought patterns, refusing to fall into catastrophizing your situation, and making a point of tuning into feelings of gratitude are powerful tools. These behaviors can reset your viewpoint and improve your ability to cope with the situation at hand, whatever it might be.
4| Don’t Talk Dirty
This isn’t a reference to bedroom speak (do as you like in that domain) but rather a reminder to take care with your self-talk. Using nasty, abusive, language in your mind can only serve to undermine you and make your situation worse.
When you’re struggling, the last thing you need is abuse from someone you can’t escape. We’re all captive audiences to the litany of our own thoughts. Recognizing this, it makes sense to pay attention to how you tend to think about yourself and your circumstances. Chances are, if you’re feeling incapable of handling the situation, you’re in, suffering from overwhelm, or otherwise feeling stuck, your way of thinking has a hand in it.
Don’t be judge but be honest with yourself. If you keep thinking thoughts like, “This is impossible. I’ll never figure this out. I’ll always be broke. I’m not good enough,” etc. you are planting the seeds of your failure.
Take a couple of deep breaths and get ready to re-frame. Remember whatever you have is more than you arrived with and more than you’ll have when you go. Focus on what you want and why and own the knowledge that your finances are yours, not you.
Even if everything falls apart, while you’re here and still breathing you can make like a phoenix and rise from the ashes. Recognizing new possibilities is perhaps the most effective way to cope with financial hardship. And, as a bonus, it feels good.