Money Isn't the Cause of Stress
There are many articles written about money and stress. The widely used phrase, financial stress, is mentioned and written about over and over. We've come to accept that money causes stress. But, does it really?
I've experienced many times in my life that I felt stressed and that it looked like it was because of my financial situation. If you saw my credit card statements several years ago, you might agree that I had good reason to feel stressed. My debt felt out of control with no apparent end in sight. I remembered saying to a friend, 'thinking about my debt makes me want to cry!' And, sometimes I did cry.
I've come to understand, however, how thought works, that we're feeling our thinking moment to moment. What I said years ago had a lot of wisdom in it, that in thinking about something brings about a feeling. Even when I faced high credit card debt, I didn't feel stress 24/7. I was still living and having fun with friends, family, and doing the things I enjoyed like going for a trail run, hiking, and practicing yoga.
The stressful feelings came when I got caught up in my thinking. Sometimes it felt like a rainstorm passing through me. Looking back though, I didn't always feel stressed about my credit card debt. I've come to know that beyond the rainstorm is the sun, our wisdom, or intelligence, whatever word fits, that is always available It's who we are.
What occurred to me to do next was to work with a coaching partner and create a plan of action to pay off my debt over a period of time. In looking forward in this direction there were feelings of hope. In time, I started seeing the numbers go down.
The hopeful feelings weren't a result of the numbers. It's just that I was giving my attention to hopeful thoughts.
Sometimes, I'd got caught up and gave my attention to the thoughts that felt like I'd been defeated. As I can understand how thought works today, I can see that the numbers on the credit card statements and in my bank accounts were just numbers. Neutral numbers. My thinking about them, however, fluctuated, and wanted to make them mean something about me, about my future, and my ability to handle my finances.
I see this when I am working with clients. The level of stress they feel when they're talking about their finances. As I share this understanding of thought with them, the stressful feeling goes down significantly. There is a calmness that comes in, the mind relaxing. From this place there is a looking forward in a different and sometimes new direction, toward hopefulness. When there's a feeling of hope, there's space for new ideas and new possibilities. Action steps naturally occur from this place of being.
There is an awareness, that during our time together, the numbers never changed, but their thinking about them did.
It’s easy to latch onto the belief that our external circumstances cause us to feel a certain way. But, if we look a little deeper, we might begin to see that it was our thoughts that we were feeling, that we're feeling right now.
I've had moments of getting so caught up in my 'rainstorm' of thoughts, that all I can see is the external factor that looks like it played a role in what I was feeling. We do that as humans, connect the dots, create meaning. I do that. But, when there's even the smallest of relief from my stirred up thinking, I see that I was just caught up in the storm. I know there's nothing I need to do to fix or change anything about my thinking or what I am feeling, because this too shall pass. Beyond the storm is the sun and beyond my thinking is the intelligence of life.