If you have a lot of debt in your name, you may have dreams about somehow magically having all of your debts forgiven. Maybe a generous benefactor swoops in to pay off everything that you owe, or perhaps your loan servicer realizes there’s been a clerical error and wipes away the remaining balance. Imagine that moment for a second. Imagine the feeling of having that debt lifted off of your shoulders.
Now come back to the present, and think about what got you into debt in the first place. What were the circumstances? Who was involved? Is there someone you blame for getting into debt? Do you have any regrets around the circumstances that got you into debt?
Notice the difference between those two emotions: the “feeling” debt free and the emotions that surfaced when thinking about the story behind your debt. I’m sure your roller coaster of emotions were huge, ranging anywhere from relief and joy when you’re finally debt free to bitterness, anger, resentment and sadness when you think about the circumstances surrounding your debt.
Out of all of the personal finance topics out there, debt is by far the most emotional. It’s safe to say that most of us would prefer to be debt-free rather than have any debt to our name. And depending on the type of debt, the story behind how each of us got into debt can range from traumatic medical emergencies to emotional divorces.
That’s why the first step to paying off your debt is dealing with all of those emotions. So before you dive into a debt repayment plan, take a moment to recognize and reflect on the emotions behind your debt. You can start by asking yourself the following questions:
How do I accept the fact that I’m in debt? You’re in debt. You have it. And regardless of how you got there, it’s in your name and you have to deal with it. If it’s wrongfully in your name, that’s one thing. But chances are that it’s yours and you have to pay it back. Step one is accepting the fact that you’re in debt and that it’s time to deal with it.
Who do I need to forgive? Think about the circumstances around your debt. Is there someone that you hold a grudge against for getting into debt? Do you need to forgive someone who was involved in those circumstances? More importantly, do you need to forgive yourself for making a choice that got yourself into debt in the first place? Let go of any bitterness and resentment you’re holding onto.
What kind of positive action can I take today to begin the debt payoff process? Now that you’ve acknowledged, accepted and forgiven the emotions behind your debt, it’s time to take small steps toward paying it off. Write down one positive step that you’re willing to take today to get yourself going in the right direction – whether that’s setting up automatic payments to pay off your debt or something as simple as opening up your account to see your total balance. Remember, it only takes one small step to start to make a difference and build positive momentum.