When it comes to managing anxiety or stress during difficult times many of us have developed a huge trunk full of coping skills. We can take a walk, drink a beer, call a friend, turn up the music, write in our journal, pray or eat chocolate – sometime lots of chocolate.
Some of these strategies work better than others and some have unwanted side effects; but it is important to understand that even our most trusted strategy only provides temporary relief of the symptom and does nothing to solve the underlying problem.
If the stress is temporary, choosing to handle it with a coping strategy is reasonable. However, using coping mechanisms to avoid the needed change can be very destructive.
Take for example my friend Kate. Kate brings home $560 a week. Kate’s obligations total $595 a week. Dear Kate is strong, she has excellent coping skills, and she manages the stress of never being current on her bills really well, almost all of the time. Every once in a while things stack up and Kate starts feeling hopeless. She often chooses this time to vent to a friend. She sometimes even asks for advice when she is feeling this way but in her condition, she can’t hear the recommendations given.
Kate’s coping skills are over-developed. In a lot of ways she would be much better off if she just crashed. Crashing is all about humility. Humility is NOT about weakness, it’s about open mindedness.
Sometimes it takes the repo’ ed car to bring about the humility necessary for a person to change their money behavior. Sometimes all it takes to “crash” is to hear the right words at the right time.
We’ve all resisted the hearing of the truth about something. Maybe it is/was a bad relationship we just couldn’t let go of or the fact that our career path has led to a dead end or that we are destroying our tomorrows by living beyond our means today.
Whatever your unheard truth is, maybe today is the day to let go of your coping mechanism and really look at the underlying problem. Pray for the strength and humility required for change.