“Previously, on this blog …”

Why not decide what you want and act as if it were already a reality? Then three things could happen. One, you attract people who can help, as said above. Two, you get where you want, faster. Three, and most importantly, you preserve your health and sanity.



How can we use our knowledge of how the mind works in order to help us in those first difficult days, when we have started to realise the situation in its entirety: when we have moved on from being in denial about our debt problem but we don’t yet have a plan?

Or, to misquote Kipling: “If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs… you don’t understand the situation.” Seriously though, this is a time when a little knowledge of your own thought processes can alleviate the worst effects of stress … and stress is a natural consequence of being seriously in debt.

We all experience stress at various times and a certain amount of it is positive; without it we wouldn’t get out of bed most days. What I’m talking about here is called in the jargon “distress” and it’s the right word.

It is sometimes said that the conscious mind can only hold one thought at a time. Buried in our subconscious mind, however, are millions of pieces of data. Some people liken the subconscious mind to the processor of a PC, and the conscious mind to the monitor or screen. Others prefer the analogy of an iceberg: what percentage is below the surface? Some of that data will be facts, some of it impressions or feelings, such as how you felt when you saw that final demand notice on your doormat.

Sadly, it is hard or impossible to control the way thoughts pop up from the subconscious mind on to the monitor of your conscious mind. If those thoughts are predominantly negative, then you will be stressed all the time. But, remember, the conscious mind can only hold one thought at a time. That thought might switch frequently if you have a butterfly mind, but you can help it along. How? By choosing to populate your conscious mind with a clear mental picture of what you want to happen, not what you fear.

On the other hand, you may have heard it said that “managing expectations” means creating low expectations in others, which can easily be exceeded. For example, many theme parks have signs telling you how long you’ll have to wait in line from a specific point. It’s well known that Disney states these times in a pessimistic way, so that the visitors will feel pleased that they got to the front of the line faster than they had expected.

The same is true in managing expectations in one’s boss. Years ago, when I worked in the chemical industry, I had an American colleague who had an annual fight with his boss in order to negotiate more realistic (i.e. lower) sales targets. “I decided,” said Carl, “that I’d rather have a fight once a year at target-setting time, than have a fight every month-end.” In other words he managed his boss’s expectations downwards.

That is fine for creating and managing the expectations of your boss or, dare I say it, your clients, if you have any. But in managing your own expectations – and those of others with whom you interact while you are dealing with your debts – I hope you’ll agree with me that positive expectations are the way to go.


To be continued …

The above is an extract from Chapter 2 (“Mind Over Matter”) of “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”. [LINK]

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