Coping With The Fear And Shame Of Debt

by Mark Brinker

Coping with shame and guilt.I came across a great article yesterday on The Huffington Post about how people are coping with debt. The headline that originally attracted me to this article was, “The American Dream Is For Sh*t“, so I just had to check it out.

The article focuses primarily on people that got behind on their mortgages, and their thought processes and emotions as they dealt with their financial problems. What I found interesting is that people with mortgage problems were experiencing nearly the same feelings and anxieties as people with credit card debt problems. The similarities were uncanny.

For example:

Although researchers find that some underwater borrowers who could continue paying their mortgages strategically default anyway, the vast majority continue to pay. Many homeowners, out of a combined sense of fear, shame, courage and morality, resist making what is otherwise a logical financial decision.

Walking away from a home, however, is more than the sum of a few business decisions. For many homeowners, it’s either an act of civic defiance against a system they no longer buy into or the end result of being shuffled around by institutions that don’t help them solve their financial problems.

The article further went on to say:

The hostility people felt from their banks made the decision to walk away easier for many, and some now even revel in it, celebrating a break from a system they see as rigged against them. “We get daily calls from creditors and banks that threaten this and that, and I just laugh knowing I am helping to bring down the system that has brought us all down and continues to reap giant profits at the expense of the little guy,” said one. Others are still haunted with shame by the decision. Most said they felt a mix of both.

Many of the homeowners said they felt alone and powerless in their interactions with the banks and were curious to hear what other people in similar situations had to say. “There should be support groups for people who have to deal with these banks,” said Richmond Burton, 50, a soon-to-be-former resident of Long Island’s East Hampton. “It can drive you crazy. I’m very good at dealing with pressure, and they made it feel like you’re at their mercy.”

In speaking one-on-one with several thousand people over a period of 15 years in various levels of financial distress I can say without a doubt that most folks are good, honest, decent people that want to do the right thing and honor their financial obligations. No one ever thought that someday they wouldn’t be able to pay their bills. However, when reality hits, it can be a terrifying experience.

Hearing about how other people dealt with their financial problems can be very comforting. Yes, you’re still going to need to address your financial challenges. But at least you know that you’re not alone, and many others are (or were) in the same boat as you.

If you’re having financial difficulties right now, I strongly recommend that you check out this entire article ASAP. It’s worth it. Here’s the link:

The American Dream Is For Sh*t

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