Thursday, December 9, 2010

What the Recession Can Teach Us About Ourselves

- by Jeff Katowitz, LMFT
What a mess we are in - 2010. Families are complaining about debt, poor decisions, if they could only go back they would have done things differently. They worry about their job security and their ability to make ends meet. Will they be able stay in their home? Should they down-size? Have they been living beyond their means? These are many of the questions that I have been hearing lately. What is significant and perhaps more difficult to examine is how did they get here and what can they learn from their actions?
Embedded in the fear, doubt and frustration is an opportunity. This is a time for families to make real changes. Unfortunately, many are forced into making them sooner than they could have ever imagined. But if real changes are to occur and be maintained, individuals and families may feel less pressured as a result of a shift in life style – from one that is overwhelming to one that is more manageable.  Many find it hard to make concrete changes in their behavior, fearing that they will have to make sacrifices,  and they struggle with the perception of a future that somehow appears to be defined as "losing something."
It may benefit each of us to take a little inventory or our daily behaviors, particularly how we spend our money. Begin to question your spending habits. Is it necessary to buy that cup of coffee on our way to work or the matching pair of shoes that we convince ourselves we need to go with a particular outfit? The bottom line is the bottom line, and when we get close to either not having money or begin a process of creating more debt for ourselves, this is where we get into problems. One habit that may be constructive moving forward is to ask yourself a simple question when feeling the urge to purchase something that we desire - "Do I need it or do I want it?" If you simply want something but it is not something that is essential in terms of your daily living, then this item should not be purchased. It's that simple. Just walk right past it when you see that thing that you "have to have" and say to yourself that you have plenty of time to purchase this item but, at this juncture, you’re fine waiting. At a time where it is more practical and appropriate, you will make the purchase. 

      By taking little steps, mini revisions and subtle changes in our daily lives can yield significant outcomes that result in making us feel better. Now imagine stringing together moments and perhaps consecutive days of healthy decisions and truly being able to find contentment and gratitude for what we have.

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