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Money Worries

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 72

I know so many people who are struggling to make ends meet at the moment and struggling with the cost of living, and I'm not even sure that I agree that it should be called the cost of living, really. I think that's a quite disgusting term if you look at it. Quite a bleak turn of phrase; I feel like it's actually the cost of capitalism or the cost of profit, which is probably how it should be phrased. But I know a lot of people who are really struggling with money and how our finances are stretched to the max to make things make ends meet at the moment.

I just wanted to speak about that a little bit this week because you might have written off your financial situation as something that you thought worked well, being self-care can't be applied when, actually, I think it is completely the opposite. And it's one of the areas where it really benefits from having a good grasp on the stories that we're telling ourselves and the stuff that's going on in our head to be able to work out what is going on in our lives and to stop things spiralling out of control.

And one of the things that I would really encourage people to have a look at is where you can separate fact from fiction. And if you were to get a piece of paper maybe and write down all of the thoughts that you're having about money at the moment, I think that you'll probably find a lot of the things that you write down are probably quite fear-based, dramatic versions of what the worst case scenario could be, or what the possible outcomes could be, or what you're frightened of happening.

Having a look at some of these stories for ourselves, being able to identify what these stories are, is going to help us extract them a little bit from what we actually practically need to do to be able to help our situation.

So when we are telling ourselves that we don't have enough, that we're not going to be able to meet the bills, that this isn't going to work, that we can't see a way out of here, that you can't possibly imagine how this is ever going to change, that. It has always been like that. This kind of story, I think, is really common for a lot of us when it comes to money. It wastes quite a lot of time and energy and puts us into quite a triggered fear state. I'm not a big fan of the word triggered, but I think you get the gist. It's really super hyper vigilant, for it associates money with danger, and when we're in that state, it's not exactly putting us in a clear frame of mind, just quite simply to be able to look at the figures. What is in the bank account? What is the bill that is coming in? What bills are due? How much money is going to be in your account when that bill hits? When are you going to be able to pay for it? If you're not able to pay it, who can you reach out to for support? Are there any citizen's advice people? Are there any friends that can help you? Who do you need to speak to about it? If you are not able to meet this bill, how can you be as resourced as you can for what is coming up and needing to go out of your bank account?

You don't have the time and the energy to do that, or you have a lot less time and energy to do that when you are spiralling off in, oh, my God, I don't know if this is ever how I'm ever going to get this to work. This is falling apart at the seams. How am I going to jigsaw everything together this month? These kinds of thoughts are quite simple, energy sucks.

So as well as writing things down and just trying to see the stories that you're telling yourself that initially will just give you a little bit of relief of you being able to see what's actually going on in your head and stop feeling like you have to hold all of the stuff and keep everything. It's a bit like the analogy of juggling that we quite often have with our emotions of trying to keep all the balls in the air. Once you've written it down, you can see what you're actually dealing with. And then some of these stories you're going to be able to look at and go, I mean, yeah, I can see why I'm telling myself that really often, but actually, that's really unlikely to happen. And some of it you're going to look at and go, yeah, I can see why that would make me really petrified to look at my bank account. And some of it, you're like, wow, that it's true. There's nothing I can do about it. Anna, I don't know why you're telling me to do stuff like this and try and separate them out into the things that you think are simply facts, the things that you think are stuff that you could work on, and the things that you can really identify are probably not very helpful to tell yourself.

And then I invite you just to have a little pause and think about what you think someone who would be able to solve this, what you think they might be feeling. Not someone who is just born on a little cushion of money and has money spewing out of all of their pipes and is just throwing money around, like, it is like they're in a waterfall of abundance. But just thinking about what someone in your situation thinks they could solve it, what might they be feeling? Or someone who wasn't in your situation, who had a slightly different financial situation to you but was still a tricky one, and someone who was just sort of in a place where they realised that they would find their own solution, what emotion would they be feeling? And when you've identified that emotion, we can look at the fact that our emotions are always our great big drivers. We're always trying to get towards something we want to feel or away from something that we don't want to feel.

So, in this scenario, really often, what we're trying not to feel is fear. Fear puts us in a state of not being able to think clearly and not being able to look at the rational options that we have in front of us. So when you've identified what someone who is able to solve it, what they might be feeling, then take one step back and go, okay, someone who is feeling that, maybe it's motivated, maybe it is a sense of potential. Maybe it is a sense of feeling like, no matter what, they're loved. So if, for example, you're struggling to meet your rent this month, how likely is it actually that you're going to end up on the street? Would there be friends that you could stay with? Do you have family members that you could stay with? Could you go to the Citizens Advice Bureau? Is there any way that you can apply for housing benefit? What options are available to you?

I think quite easily we can spiral into the worst-case scenario, but we don't finish the sentence. So it would be, "Oh, my God, I can't pay my rent. This is just going to be awful. I don't know what's going to happen", but I actually think about what would happen. How likely is it that one week after you can't pay your rent, you're going to end up out on the street? For most of us, and I, by no means am dismissing this as a very real problem for a lot of people. But for most of us, and probably most people listening to this, it is pretty unlikely that you're going to end up completely destitute within days. And so if you were to be thinking about someone who was able to solve this, someone who was thinking that could be potential, they might be feeling something like resourced or confident or maybe slightly nervous, but a little bit inquisitive about what could be happening. They might be feeling curious about how they're going to make this work.

These might all sound preposterous emotions for you to be feeling when you're in that state of panic. But I'm not asking you to look at it from a state of panic. I'm inviting you to have a look at it from someone who could solve it. Like, we're just playing pretend right now. And then if I look at someone who is having these thoughts, like there is this kind of feeling, like, I'm going to try and work this out, I'm going to do my best to see what I can come up with. I'm going to go against what I feel is embarrassing or shameful and pick up the phone and call my mate and say, I need to borrow some money. What are the things that if you were feeling like you were resourced, or you were curious, or you did think it was a possibility, what kind of thoughts would be driving those emotions? What would someone who is able to solve it be thinking?

When you can list some thoughts like that, you can begin to just very gently start to move yourself more in the direction of someone who is thinking like that. So, if I'm thinking there is a chance that I could sort this out, there is a chance that I have a friend that I could ask. I'm going to have the courage to pick up the phone to the person to whom I owe the money to say, is there any chance that I could extend the deadline by two weeks? Is there any way that I could pick up some extra work somewhere? These kinds of thoughts are going to give you more resourcefulness, more ideas, and more possibilities of solving the issue than thinking, "Oh, my God, this is never going to work. I'm going to lose the roof over my head. I'm never going to solve this. It's always been the same..."

It's not about denying the situation that you're in. It's just one of them really depletes you and leaves you in a state of fear. So you're not able to take any action. One of them looks towards how you can motivate yourself to find as many solutions as possible until one of them works thought work is not about trying to gaslight yourself into deciding that you can't solve the problems of your own volition. It is about getting yourself into a place where you can find as many resources as you can to move you towards a place where you feel and you create more safety in your life. I hope that this has been useful for you.

If you'd like more help and support on it, please do reach out.

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