The financial cost of negative emotions
In 2014, the antidepressant drug Prozac was prescribed for about 14 million people around the world. You may know someone who is using Prozac, or you might be. If you play back the events leading up to your antidepressant prescription, you may realise that you were stressed about something in your life.
There has been an increase in the number of people who are seeking help with money issues as they struggle with symptoms such as increased anxiety, stress, depression, low self-esteem, sleep deprivation and fatigue. These issues have an adverse effect on health, resulting in prescription medication costs or medical bills.
Personal finance management issues are entirely emotional, regardless of people’s academic or financial status – whether you are stuck in debt and struggling to get out, or you want to make more money and you just do not know how, or you want to protect or grow it.
Often, however, people look at numbers when dealing with or addressing their financial issues, instead of looking at what is causing them.
Financial issues are symptoms of an underlying emotional problem. Very few people recognise that their emotions influence their financial status.
In fact, many people do not know what their emotions are creating or costing them.
Negative emotional states contribute to relationship problems, health issues and financial challenges – including a reluctance to follow a budget, overspending, indebtedness, impulsive buying and collective consciousness (doing what everyone around you is doing).
The truth is that all the key areas of our lives (social, physical, spiritual, family, career, mental and financial) can make or cost us money in a fulfilling or unfulfilling way, based on the emotions we experience in that area. For example, diets do not fail; people fail at diets. Do you know someone who has tried different diets, bought slimming tablets and other quick fix remedies, and didn’t achieve results, yet they spent money on the products anyway?
Savings plans do not fail; people fail at savings plans. Does this sound familiar? Are you someone who puts a couple of hundred rands in a savings account only to take itout and spend it before the end of the month? Do you put money into an investment account, only to take it back before it has earned you any returns? Have you made a loss because returns can only be realised over a longer period?
Relationships do not fail; people fail at relationships. When people get married because of fear of rejection and desperation for intimacy, they avoid discussing financial issues and hope love will sustain them through it all, only to be faced with divorce a couple of months or years later.
As my colleague Magauta Mphahlele, a specialist in debt counselling, once put it so eloquently: it is often only then that they realise they have “sexually transmitted debt”.
They now have to share their pension or pay off debts they didn’t accrue themselves because they were too scared to address financial issues at the beginning of the relationship. We all know that marriages cost money when they start and when they end.
The question to ask is: Why do I fail at my money goals, lifestyle goals or relationships?
The answer lies in dominant negative emotions that we are unable to manage. As long as we make decisions based on fear and live in survival mode, we will never achieve fulfilling financial results.
All negative emotions regarding money or any other aspect of our lives have their foundation in fear – fear of not having enough, fear of not being good enough, fear of not doing enough, fear of failure, fear of losing money and so forth.
And all that fear is, really, is a lack of knowledge or a lack of information.
We often hear that knowledge is power. To conquer fear, we have to plan to acquire knowledge in the key areas of our lives, which is why I regularly ask people what their personal development budget is. And the personal growth budget is not for formal education alone, it is also for informal education in all the key areas of our lives that trigger fear-based emotions, such as self-knowledge, marriage, parenting, health and lifestyle, spirituality, mental, financial, social and career.
Any area in your life where you are not empowered allows someone or something to overpower you. Negative emotions are no exception; they can overpower you and cost you money when you do not understand them, their source and how to manage them.
YOUR MONEY, YOUR EMOTIONS