“A worry pulls tomorrow’s cloud over today’s sunshine.”

Let’s be honest for a bit.  We all want to feel secure in knowing that we have enough money to live on. We all want to make sure we can pay house payments, rent, buy our groceries, pay our hydro-electric bills and anything else we need to pay for.  We feel secure when we have a good job and regular pay. It can be stressful when everything is up in the air financially speaking or when bills pile up but the money coming in can’t keep up.

Money troubles can also bring relationship troubles and health troubles, so it is really a good idea to get a “handle” on how we respond to money problems. Typically, we tend to worry and anticipate problems down the road as a result of our current situation. We construct all kinds of scenarios and act them out in the present as if they had already happened.

We worry we fret, we anticipate what we think will probably happen, but the good news is that we din,t have to. The good news is that we can” kick this worry monster in the teeth”.

In his youtube presentation, Dr. Paul Jenkins, a psychologist at Live on Purpose, proposes 3 steps, or principles to consider in order to help us beat the destructive habit of worrying about money.

Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
– Swedish Proverb

1. We need to understand what worry really is

We are gifted with very active imaginations, but we don’t always use them well. Worry is really just using our imagination to imagine our situation getting worse. We become anxious, nervous and apprehensive as a result of projecting negative outcomes. In all reality, we don’t actually know what is going to happen because we don’t know the future. Each day us different and they bring new circumstances. Things change. The projections that we make only exist in our minds.

If we are able to use our imaginations to project negative outcomes, what could we accomplish if we flipped the situation around? If we can imagine negative scenarios, we can also imagine positive scenarios using our imagination. Of course, we are naturally wired to focus on the negative. It is second nature to us. So, trying to imagine positive scenarios might feel unnatural and awkward at the beginning.

Whatever position we choose to take, however, we choose to look at our circumstances, we need to remember that we get to choose how we will see our situation and what we will do about it.

2. We need to understand what money is

We tend to attribute more value to money and what it is than we ought to. Money is intrinsically symbolic, a representation of what we want to have. While we like to assign value to money, tho only value it has is what it can buy. So when we say we want or need more money what we are actually communicating is that we would like to have more possibility to have what we can obtain with money. It’s not the money that we want, but the “stuff”, to put it a little crudely.

Money is a receipt that we give to another person or party in return for a service rendered or a product received, a means of trade. When we receive value, we give out a receipt. Conversely, when we give value to others, they give us a receipt.

So if money is a form of receipt, why are we worrying about stockpiling receipts?

As we have seen, worry is a misuse of a good imagination and money is a receipt. So we can put thew two together and say that worrying about money is really misusing our imagination, creating scenarios about not having a big enough pile of receipts. It sounds a little silly when we put it this way, but I think you get the bigger picture.

Which leads us to the third point.

3. We need to shift our focus

We need to take our eyes off the “pile of receipts” and look at what value we give or receive. Then we can begin to think differently, even productively and creatively. We begin to imagine the ways we can add value to others. This shift of focus opens our minds to new ways of seeing, new possibilities and avenues to explore. It takes out of a victim mindset and into an empowered position.

Shifting our focus is key to thinking differently about money and our relationship to it. We absolutely need to do this if we are to escape the worry cycle. However, even though many of us may know this we still hold ourselves back, believing all the false information we have grown up with or we may not even give ourselves permission to think differently. We may not feel comfortable doing so.

We often, knowingly or unknowingly, sabotage ourselves in this area. There are a couple of things we can do:

1. Get our priorities straight

There is a great example from the Bible about priorities in the book of Haggai

God: “Look at what’s happening to you!”  “You have planted so much, but bring in so little”. (Haggai 1: 5-6)  “Why are you living in  these luxurious homes while my house is in ruins?”

So basically, God is chastising Haggai for pushing forth his own agenda and ambitions (career, possessions, and leisure)

We can easily fall into the same trap by focusing too much on what we want to attain or pursue and by allowing these pursuits to take over our common sense and our money. When we lose our sense of what is important, our priorities get out of whack. The real value is not in what we can get for ourselves, but in what we can give and do for others.

2. Determine what we have control over

Sometimes we worry over money, but we fail to recognize (or admit) that we are responsible for our own money mismanagement. Perhaps we are desiring more than we need or not paying attention to how we are spending our money.  It might be time to take a look at our budget (or start one). Maybe it is time to take a hard look and see where we can cut back.

At any rate, no matter what the circumstances, we are responsible for our choices in every circumstance and we can only control what we can control. At the end of the day, we shouldn’t sweat what we can’t control.

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”

– Erma Bombeck

6 Facts about worrying

1. Over 90% of what we worry about never happens

2. Worrying is a huge waste of time

3. Worrying is unproductive

4. Worry adds tension to personal relationships

5. Worry prevents you from being able to enjoy life

6. Worrying leads to more worry and more stress

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca