Personal finance: The psychology of debt… how to be 'free' in UAE

We are controlled by money - and the lack of it seems to destroy our core


Theda Muller

Most times we are not pre-warned of a diminishing income. Because it comes at short notice, we are not prepared to suddenly deal with shortfalls in crucial areas of our lives.

This then leads to huge emotional strain affecting the family, our relationships, and our attitude at our place of employment.

It has a direct negative effect on our productivity and performance.

As humans we are not susceptible to immediate change, because it takes some real experience and training to enable us to handle these situations instantaneously.

To avoid this kind of situation in the future, it is imperative to plan and initiate a form of savings and back-up for such instances.

Easy to say, but I know very difficult to implement and to effectively manage.

I certainly will never imply that debt or finding yourself in a financial crisis is always self-inflicted, because sometimes we are placed in very trying and difficult situations, beyond our control and this leads to personal losses that we find hard to cope with emotionally.

We are unable to focus and gain perspective to continually manage our lives in the same comfortable manner we are accustomed to.

At this stage we definitely need support, direction and encouragement, because some people cannot just adjust and do not have the ability [due to a lack of focus and emotional turbulence] to have the answers at their fingertips.

The alternative to seek advice is also a hard issue, because people who are unaffected by hardships cannot resonate with our situation or emotions and they very seldom permit their comfort zones to be disturbed.

Who wants to get involved?

So they might listen to your problems, maybe once or twice, but they certainly will not get involved and here lies the differentiating factors that should become evident to you.

The outcome is no support, whatsoever and we should not expect it either.

Money has been instrumental in the destruction of great friendships and here is the lesson: If you treasure a friend that is invaluable to you, how come you allow money to destroy that friendship in an instant?

The reason is that we are controlled by money, the over-abundance of it and the lack of it destroys our core being.

We are not prepared to have an open relationship with money when at the end of the day, money is only a tool to acquire the things we want in live, to survive, to feed our families, buy our homes, cars and have the life we desire.

Why is it that so many people are prepared to simply destroy that which is unobtainable in stores - friendship?

The value is in the wrong place for sure. Walk with your valued friends; serve them as they serve you because we cannot exist without one another.

The human mind is an interesting component of the body and it controls all of our processes… but we have yet to master its full functionality.

We should realise that at the end when we find ourselves in adverse situations, then it is because we have no control over our mind and we permit self-destruction on impulse, without giving much thought to our actions.

Get organised

The same applies to how we manage our financial lives, our ability to organise, be disciplined and constructively plan a fail-proof mechanism that can protect us forever.

Over the past two years I have encountered emotionally destroyed people who lost millions in stock broking, real estate and business ventures - they are at a loss as to where to start. These are people previously rated at ‘Wealth Management’ levels where they may have had a high standard of living where the debt accumulated, would equate to that lifestyle level.

How would that person cope now?

It would be emotionally draining to know where to start if all was lost. However, if we considered an average person, the emotional state would be the same as the problems and responsibilities are identical, each on their respective levels.

Debt does not differentiate between classes of people; it affects us all irrespective of our background, education, experience or disposition in life. Debt does not afford preferential treatment to any levels of society. Neither do banks’ Collections or Legal Departments anywhere in the world, because everyone is ‘painted with the same brush’, i.e. a delinquent client, period.

The humiliation and degradation would obviously have a harsher impact on the individual with the previously high standard of living and this is a normal observation. It is always harder to fall from the top and there is no short-cut to problem resolution within this context. There are emotions we must experience, situations we must face, justifications we must tender, where sincerity, willingness and commitment is the ultimate to resolve any debt problem.

It could never happen to us

Generally, people thrive on gloating about other’s misfortune and I sometimes wonder why they assume they could never find themselves in the same situation? Or is it just that we assume ‘It could never happen to us?’

I have seen so many typical examples and it absolutely used to infuriate me to watch a Collections Agent or Bank Representative embarrass a so called ‘default’ client in the presence of an audience, simply because they can, or they derive some form of ego booster from flaunting what they assume is their authority.

I have personally been subjected to this form of humiliation and I can tell you it is the worse feeling under the sun, no matter how hospitable and reasonable you try to act, it just is not good enough. The humiliation and degradation continues until they eventually derive their self-satisfaction in their assumptions as authoritarians.

Undoubtedly I have also met some real compassionate Collections Agents and Managers who display an enormous degree of compassion and empathy for the true situation and they try their utmost to accommodate the client’s ability to repay the debt in questions.

I would never generalise, because either way, we are indebted when we find ourselves in this situation. But it is a comforting feeling when your creditor is accommodating and affords you an opportunity to set the record straight.

In all walks of life, even if confronted with a default Client, respect calls for respect. I am aware that there are clients who are habitual bad debtors and they are purposefully unwilling to meet their commitments.

This is a different situation; this is not the character I am trying to portray.

Commit to be debt-free

Being debt-ridden is horrible, it is a situation I detest, a feeling I abhor and a commitment I have made to myself to be debt-free, because there is no better feeling in the world not to have this responsibility.

Being in a situation that is out of control disrupts our emotional metabolism and in most areas of our lives, we just cannot acquire the stability we desire to just live like normal human beings.

Granted, some of us must have debt to meet those real important commitments that afford us a reasonable payment plan.

But then it must be within our capability to maintain. Debt does not have to be bad, it can serve as a vehicle to obtain the things we can afford and need in our lives, where we are responsible to meet our commitments.

If debt is all that is on our sub-conscious mind, then debt will be all we attract until we change our situation by creating a situation of deliberate creation, means that we are in sync with what we desire and can achieve without any negative hindrances.

It is not enough to persue ‘The Law of Attraction’ when you are not in a mind-set to magnetize yourself, because all you will attract is the current state of mind you are in.

Sometimes we achieve far beyond our wildest imagination, but we don’t take care of the ‘cheese’, because we assume that we can never lose it, but then we do.

So at that point we must know how to change our mind-set again and hopefully it is a lesson well learnt for the future and we don’t repeat the same mistake again.

We are infallible, nobody is perfect but we can learn from our mistakes.

Click to read: Reality-check for UAE residents: From flipping credit cards to a wealthy mind-set

Theda Muller is a UAE-based author of two books: Embrace Financial Freedom Volume One: 10 Proven Ways To Release Debt And Emotional Fears In Today’s Economy, and Volume Two: Releasing Fear And Bouncing Back From A Debt Crisis.
She also conducts webinars and workshops on debt recovery.

The views expressed are the author’s own and do not reflect in any way, the views of Emirates 24|7. Readers are advised to carry out their own due diligence before taking any decision.

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