When in debt, most people do one of three things
• Blame their employer or government for either not paying them enough or not helping them with enough benefits or assistance
• Kick themselves for getting into the situation (or blame their spouse for it)
• Pray to get out of debt (or to win the lottery)
Yet, to get out of debt, one of the most important factors is gratitude. It is easy to look at lack when in debt. Debt however makes it even more important to be grateful for what you have instead of being discouraged for what you do not. This is because what you focus on expands for (see we get what we have not what we want). So if the focus is on how you got in the problem or on what you do not have then lack will continue to expand.
Why should I be grateful for debt? This may sound like be a stretch. It starts by seeing what being in debt may also bring. Being in debt may have taught you a valuable financial lesson before the debt got too big or it is too late. It may have brought you and your spouse together by working on getting out of debt. It may sound Pollyanna, yet it is finding the silver lining in the situation. It does not mean that debt is good. It means seeing how you can grow from the event. It is not about the event, yet how you can use the event. You can be mad about debt or use it to grow.
How about if my spouse isn’t working with me thus we are growing further apart instead of working together? I have heard a lot of stories about how one spouse is the cause of all of all the problems. We all have different styles in dealing with problems. Usually one spouse is a saver while the other is a spender. One spouse is detailed oriented while the other is big picture focus. Yet, a couple having different ways of dealing with a problem does not mean they have drastically different goals. Thus, if the focus is on what your spouse is not doing exactly what you expect, of course problems will continue to occur and the resentment will cause you to grow further apart. If you can first agree on goals and priorities (e.g. getting out of debt in 5, 10, etc. years), then you can be grateful on agreeing on goals before moving on how to integrate your different styles. In other words, you can look for what is not going right (what is different) to show that there is no hope rather or you can find common ground (what you are grateful for) to build on.
The other thing that gratitude does is create a sense of worthiness for what you have. If the focus is on what you do not have, then your belief is that you do not deserve. Think of how many times who thought that I just can’t get a break. Studies have shown that those who believe that they have no luck have a harder time finding opportunities and shortcuts than those who believe they have luck. In a class that I taught, a student discussed how she finally saved $800 only to blow it. If the focus is on debt, then when you get out and save some money it is going to feel weird and not natural. Then the money can easily disappear because you do not believe that you should have it. Gratitude is giving thanks for what comes into your life while affirming that you should have it. By focusing on what you do have, it becomes more natural to have it and less likely to disappear.
Gratitude starts by seeing what is in your life. If you are reading this on the web, there is a good chance that you have the basic food, shelter and clothing. If you are in debt for medical care, be grateful that hospitals did not shut their doors on you which is not necessarily the case in other countries like Russia (their life expectancy for their non-elite countrymen has decreased over the last decade due to lack of medical care). Being grateful is not saying that you are satisfied and will remain in this financial predicament for the rest of your life. It is saying that money isn’t going to make you happier than you are now. Thus there is a lot to be grateful for now and to be happy now. And, once your drop the stress, anger, and other emotions around debt, you free up your energy and focus it to accomplish even more.
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