There is lots of advice on how to manage debt. There is little help for people to understand the emotional impact of debt. After all, debt is just a number, and you owe them the money and can’t pay it back, isn’t it they who have a problem … not you?
In my last post I offered some advice about why debt is seductive. We can all fall into it. In fact those that sell debt want us to be seduced – and they are very skilled at knowing how to do it. If you are in debt and struggling with payments etc., you will probably be suffering from the emotional impact of debt. This is what I want to write about today.
The easiest way to look at the psychology of debt is as a circular process.
1. You default on a payment.
2. You feel ashamed and guilty.
3. You go into denial and stop opening your post.
4. The problem grows in your imagination.
5. You feel anxious, depressed and a sense of hopelessness builds. You feel like a ‘black cloud’ has descended on your life, and start to feel resentment about working all the time to pay back loans.
6. This leads to more denial and the pile of unopened letters starts to build.
7. This leads to more defaults and the process repeats.
This is the viscous cycle of debt, and you need to understand it for two reasons.
First, if you understand the cycle it is easier to break out of it. Second the debt companies know all about this vicious cycle, and will use it against you to force you to make payments you can’t afford.
When a person is in this situation, debt collection companies know it’s a matter of time before professional debt counsellors become involved. They know that when this happens they will probably get less money from you … so they push … hard.
At this point, of course, you are emotionally vulnerable and probably frightened, but the collectors are simply set on minimising their losses. They will exploit you if you don’t act fast.
The key to understanding the cycle above is denial. So long as you remain in denial you will remain vulnerable. My advice is take control … and do so as soon as you possibly can.
Often at this point, people start worrying about their credit record. In reality it is already too late. As soon as you start defaulting, your credit rating dives, so there is nothing to be lost (and everything to be gained) from getting expert advice.
These days there are many different ways to take control and manage your debts. You will be amazed at the ways you can escape from this. From a psychological perspective, however, handing your debts to a professional to manage is the start of the recovery. The debt companies know they can no longer harass you. You are in control … and you can start living your life again.
But who to turn to? I suggest never paying someone to manage your debts, at least not in the first instance. Get help from the Citizens Advice Bureau. They should be able to help, and if they can’t, will point you in the right direction.
Do it NOW.
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