Stop your brain’s emotional pinball game to reduce financial anxiety
Stress for Succes
June 24, 2008
If you’ve been historically financially sound but are now experiencing economic anxiety, not only are you stressed because your security is threatened but also because things have changed
All change equals stress, even good change. It stretches your comfort zone, putting you into unfamiliar territory creating the feeling of being out of control. When faced with change it feels safer to cling to the familiar.
You can get through any difficult situation in better stress shape by learning to cope with your shifting landscape. In my program, “Coping at the Speed of Change,” my purpose is to show people how to redirect their resistance-to-change energy into problem-solving energy.
When excessively stressed, like when losing your job or home, your stress emotions of anger/fear are triggered more intensely and cloud your ability to think clearly to solve your stressor. It’s perfectly normal. The original intent of these emotions was to motivate you to take positive action. So, after investing in problem solving if your emotional energy is still like a “chemical pinball game in the brain areas that are engaged in emotions,” as Dr. Nick Hall would say, it’s time to redirect your stress energy and slow down this emotional ricocheting.
For example, if you and I are in similar financial straits, and you’re better at not blowing things out of proportion, you’ll be more alert to problem-solving options. Because I’m more stressed I’m probably digging in my heels resisting what’s going on around me. My energy goes more into finding reasons to justify my resistance like, “Management’s always looking for ways to get rid of me,” than focusing on problem solving.
Here are two ideas that can help you move from the emotional part of your brain to the more rational problem solving part:
Dr. Hall advises you finish off “I am glad …” three times in the context of what’s upsetting you. When your financial stress is sending you into the stress stratosphere, fill this in three times: “I am glad that I still have a job.” “I am glad my spouse also brings home a paycheck.” “I am glad I have always landed on my feet historically.” This should subdue your emotions, which allows you to move into the rational thinking part of your brain.
Stop blaming and complaining about what’s going on and instead force yourself to answer, “What are my options?” Ongoing blaming and complaining are red flags that you’re becoming a victim to whomever you’re blaming and whatever you’re complaining about. Victims generally see no way out of their predicament other than for someone else to change. But, to get yourself out of your financial pickle you need to take appropriate action. All that blaming and complaining do is keep your chemical pinball game going. Substitute any excessive blaming and complaining with identifying your options in dealing with your stress.
Learning to redirect your emotional stress energy and the emotional subsequent pinball game it creates will lower your financial anxiety and help you move beyond it more quickly.
Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., of InterAction Associates, is a trainer and a Stress Coach. E-mail her at www.jackieferguson.com with your questions or for information about her workshops on this and other topics and to invite her to speak to your organization.