Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Jason Large who is a regular writer over at the Daily Zen
Starting the process of filing for bankruptcy has been pretty traumatic for me. I’ve had to face and process a number of unpleasant emotions – depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, and embarrassment.
Going through the early stages of this process has also shown me that despite this overwhelming rush of negative emotions, none of what I’m feeling matters to anyone else involved, and more importantly, none of what I’m feeling is productive in helping me solve my problems.
What I’m finding is that silver linings present themselves all the time, and if we allow ourselves to be open to them, we can use them to help ourselves, even in the worst of times.
When our money started running out, I went to my brother for some advice. He’s been very successful in business and is smart with how he manages his money. The two of us looked at my financial situation and he’s the one who originally put the idea of bankruptcy as the best solution for me in my head.
A day or two after our initial conversation, I got a phone call from my brother. He had been thinking about my predicament and had come up with an idea to help my family.
He owned a house that he had recently fixed up and he was willing to let me and my family move into this house, rent-free, until we’re able to get back on our feet. I was dumbfounded by his offer.
And at first, my emotions were ruling me, I actually tried to resist the idea. I made excuses about why we wouldn’t want to do it. The kids would have to change schools. It was too much for him to offer. We’d never be able to repay him.
He talked me down out of that way of thinking and made me see the sense in his offer. It was as soft of a landing place as we could hope for.
One more example from our current financial situation. We’re starting to be late on payments for our credit cards and the other day the phone started to ring. The caller-id said, “Citi,” so I knew what it was about.
I couldn’t handle the idea of taking the call, the embarrassment of having to say that I can’t make a payment. So I let it ring and didn’t answer. They called again a few hours later. And again. And again.
They called the next morning, but this time I picked up. I told them I couldn’t make the payment and that we were in the process of filing for bankruptcy. The woman on the phone graciously said, “I’m sorry you’re in that situation,” and asked for my attorney’s information.
I gave it to her and she told me they wouldn’t be bothering me about it anymore, they would contact my lawyer if they needed any information. What a relief that was to me.
I am finally starting to see the relief and the good that going through this process can provide for me and my family. I think the lessons I’m learning can really be applied to many difficult situations in life.
LEAVE EMOTION OUT OF IT
Many of the difficulties we face in life come with emotional baggage of sorts. And we need to deal with that emotion.
But it’s easier – and I think wiser – to separate that emotion we feel from our decision-making processes.
We need to be able to think clearly to make intelligent decisions that will affect our lives in a positive manner.
Recognize your feelings, validate them, but understand that making an important decision in the heat of the moment could open you up to further problems down the road.
ASK FOR HELP
There’s no good reason to make important decisions all by yourself. Asking others for advice or assistance is going to provide you with new perspectives and new ideas – some that you may not have thought about before on your own.
Asking for help adds another’s experiences to you own – it enriches your knowledge before you have to make an important decision.
Often we feel shame or embarrassment when we ask for help, but when we open ourselves up to someone else, we might find that they have a similar experience to our own, and that can strengthen the bond between us.
LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES
When we’re in a difficult situation, we may feel that we have very little choice in what we can do. Sometimes we hurt ourselves by thinking this way. We limit ourselves.
If we actively seek out solutions to our problems, we might start seeing them in the most unexpected places. We need to be open to the idea that workable answers are out there, but maybe we just haven’t found them yet.
By looking for opportunities and answers, we can even change our own mindset about difficult situations – a search is something positive, a problem is not.
Try to approach your situation from different angles. Think about the advice you might give someone else if they were in your shoes. Even if something feels like a crazy idea, follow through on it for a little while and see if it bears any fruit – you may learn something from going through the process.
The same can be said for things that scare you. If there’s an option in your situation that is frightening, lean into it a bit – you might find that you’re stronger and more capable of dealing with something than you give yourself credit for.
We all face difficult situations throughout our lives. Actively pursuing the good in these situations can help us make better decisions that will affect our lives in more positive ways.
Are you going through a bad time? What are you doing to help you find the good in those bad situations?