What a potential plane crash taught me about my money fears
A couple of weeks ago I was on a scary flight home from New York. There was massive turbulence, strong enough that several people actually screamed, electrical issues, the engines were making really alarming noises and the woman sitting across from me was completely convinced that we were going to crash and was crying almost the whole way. I was pretty convinced too for a while, but I sat quietly in my seat with barely a flicker of anxiety or even that nervous feeling in my stomach. I was pretty serene considering the fact that I was sitting there thinking about what It might be like to die.
I'm not trying to make light of the situation either, I honestly felt a moment of sadness that this may well be the end of me, but the reality is that in that situation, fear and panic is actually useless because I'm sitting in a giant steel tube several thousand feet above ground. If we go down there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it.
There is nothing I can do that will save me.
So why worry.
But I did start to think quite seriously about fear and was really stunned to realize that all of the fears that I do have are actually really small in comparison to death. My greatest fear is being broke.
Are you laughing yet? Probably not, because its by no means a unique fear. I bet you're a little concerned about that too!
Seriously though, think about the fact that I am more afraid of being broke that I am of dying in a horrible fiery plane crash. Then think about where that comes from.
We are constantly told that our financial standing is the measure of our worth. We are also constantly told that there is not enough to go around. That making money is hard work. That there's always someone around the corner waiting to take advantage of us. That we will lose everything. That any moment now the economy is going to crash and it will be horrible.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much time Ive wasted plotting and planning my bill payments in the past. Measuring to the cent what I can and cant spend and where. And you know what its gotten me? A lack of sleep and constant low level anxiety. The fear has not in any way improved my financial situation. Its not helped me use my money smarter. Its not prevented me from having debt.
So I'm sitting in this plane seat being bounced around by turbulence, having decided that I'm ok with this being my last day... and I started really exploring my fear; and it went something like this.
So what would happen if I ran out of money? I would have to borrow money and Id be in debt. Well, you already have debt, so what... Well what if I didn't have a job and couldn't make payments?! (this is me panicking...) Well you could always get a job, you know that right... But if I couldn't then Id have people calling me up telling me I have to make payments. (more panic) So what, you explain the situation and you do what you can to pay them. But if I cant then they will come and take away all my stuff. Wow. so you're worried about losing some stuff. really? You know that no one will stop you buying more stuff right? And since when is stuff important to you?
When I was little a family member found himself in this situation, and people came and repossessed everything he had. Now of course this was a shitty situation, but guess what. He kept going. He didn't fall apart, he didn't die, nobody dragged him away to debtors jail or anything awful. He is still very much alive actually and I clearly have far too active an imagination. And my fear is based on how I felt about a situation happening to someone else when I was a 7 year old.
How I felt then is not and will never be my reality now.
Even if I DID lose everything, I would react and respond totally differently.
So why does the fear still linger? Why am I still approaching that fear as though I am 7 years old?
Simply, because I let it. Because I never stopped to think about why, and because we often make decisions based on the fear of a situation that is not our reality.
Funny when you look at it like that isn't it!
All fear, is based on beliefs, and when you explore why those beliefs are in place and challenge them, they tend to dissolve.
So take a step back and focus on exploration towards being fearless. Or rather, to fear less.
Don't feed your fear, challenge your fear.
And being broke is definitely not as bad as being in a plane crash!