Fear is the worst enemy of the debtor.
Fear allows us to accept false solutions and incorrect thoughts into our consciousness when we are dealing with debt.
Fear is not reality.
Overwhelmingly the pattern that emerges in people facing financial troubles is they eventually become afraid and paralyzed by their situation. They either leap at any solution or do nothing. They fall for fake promises of help or take action that leaves them only further in debt, without money, and still facing the same debt monster.
I wanted to share with you a different point of view on the whole debt experience, one I wish I had fully realized when I was facing my debt demons years ago. Well, on some level I did. You’ll see.
When you fall behind on your bills and don’t think you’ll be able to meet your obligations it is only natural to be concerned and worried, that is unless you are a sociopath like Dexter on that television show that murders people without remorse.
But the emotional whipping we give ourselves distorts reality and we do much more damage to ourselves than we have to; needlessly and senselessly.
Let’s just take one part of the debtor experience, the debt collection call.
Many fear the debt collection call. They feel they are being judged or viewed with moral disdain for not meeting their obligation on a timely basis. Or at least that’s what the voice in the head says.
The reality is that if you could pay your bill, you would. If it was within your ability to make your payment by the due date you would have made the payment. But sometimes shit just happens.
It doesn’t matter if the reason for your inability to make ends meet is that your home was just wiped off the map by a terrible tornado, or the business you worked for was destroyed by fire. The reason could be as simple as you lost your job or slipped and fell and are now laid up injured. Whatever the reason the outcome is the same, you simply can’t make the ends meet. It is what it is and that’s all that it is.
Are victims of a hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster left in a shameful position? Should they feel guilt or moral embarrassment because they can’t make the next payment, or maybe the one after that?
Let’s put all of this mess into perspective.
Nobody wants to be beholden to another and not be able to meet that obligation. It’s not something most start out to strive for. Sure we can point to scammers, crooks, and flim-flam ne’er-do-wells. But if you are reading this, that’s not you.
Debtor shame makes people do stupid and ridiculous things and have stupid and ridiculous thoughts. From the low end of the spectrum it makes people agree to payments they just can’t meet to the high end of the spectrum, they take their own lives in suicide or murder their family in shame.
And that entire spectrum of silly and senseless things is born out of just one issue, we fear the debt instead of embracing it.
Embrace the Debt. Are You Insane?
The actual best move to make when you start to feel the fear of debt creeping into more and more of your waking thoughts is to stop fearing it. The fear harms you more than helps you. It does not change your situation nor does it give you the opportunity to make it better.
The best thing you can do in times like these is to embrace and own the situation, not run from it. If you are in debt and can’t pay the bill, accept it. Live in the moment when you can’t make the next payment but do it from a position of reality, rather than fear.
There is a large volume of travel between being afraid of the phone ringing and the words a strange voice on the end of the line is going to say that will judge you, to welcoming the call and the debt collector.
You can react in fear or you can live in joy. The choice is absolutely yours. Which do you want to live in? The choice is entirely yours. It is your choice so what do you chose?
As silly as this may sound, being in debt and having the debt collector call is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s unfortunate, but it’s not the worst thing.
On the scale of horrible things I’d much rather get a collection call than be on fire or get jabbed in the eye with a sharp stick.
We allow ourselves to be panicked by the collection call simply out of a poor sense of prioritizing the reality of the event. On the scale of having our neighborhood hit by a tsunami or getting a collection call, the collection call is less than a nothing.
Here is What You Need to Do When We Get Collection Calls
When you start to get collection calls I’d welcome each one like a long lost friend and be cheerful and cordial as you describe why you can’t pay. What?
You heard me.
The debt collector is not a person to fear, nor is the attorney that might threaten to sue you. None of those people are. The collection folks are not there to judge you. They are there to persuade you into making a payment promise or repay your debt. They are there to do a job. That’s it.
Have you ever seen that show “Parking Wars” where people behave badly when they get parking tickets? The citizen goes off in a rude tirade against the city employee that just issued them a ticket for an obviously expired meter.
But once in a while the person walks up to their car as the ticket is being written and admits it was their fault, they thank the parking ticket writer for being nice about it and they deal with the situation for what it is. Which approach do you think leaves the person with more serenity and a better day?
The ticket person doesn’t morally judge the person they just gave the ticket to. They issue the ticket based on the facts. The debt collector is just doing the same thing. You are behind so they are trying to collect money from you. That’s all it is.
There is a reason that seeking serenity and the Serenity Prayer is a foundational block of helpful programs like Debtors Anonymous. It’s because it helps to put the situation into proper perspective.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
If you are suffering with debt worry, you can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you feel hopeless and your stress level is through the roof; try this alternative approach.
The next time a debt collector calls, welcome the call with enthusiasm, thank the collector for calling and make the person your friend. There is no reason for you to become fearful of what the collector is going to say. They already know you are behind on your bills and you already know they are trying to get a payment out of you. What more can they tell you?
When I was living through my troubles there was the one debt collector that I did become friendly with. It got to the point that I’d look forward to his calls. And a few years later when I started helping people that had money troubles I’d even call him for some advice on different collection situations. He was a great friend to have and tell me how to deal with the collector for this client or that one.
You are not going to disarm a debt collector with nastiness or aggression. But you will absolutely disarm the debt collector by being the nicest person they talk to today. Being nice isn’t going to change the situation but trust me when I tell you that it will radically change your day for the better.
Imagine two debt collection calls. On one you shout, cry and scream at the collector. You end the call by slamming the phone down and carry the exchange with you through the day. You’re mad and angry and it impacts your day from that point forward until something takes over your thoughts.
On the other call you smile, remain friendly, and act cordial. The moment the call is over you can abandon the call in your thoughts and move on knowing you were just the best person you could be.
The debt collector has no power over you unless you let them so why not take their power away by being nice, a joy to call, and a truthful person in their day filled with venom and hateful encounters. By doing this it improves the quality of your day and can even lead to more and better solutions when dealing with the situation.
When your financial situation changes or we need to tackle the underlying debt, there are solutions and don’t worry, I’m always here at GetOutOfDebt.org to help you for free.