Phrase "DON'T PANIC" representing the effective mindset of dealing with debt.

Ever found yourself shaken by a story you stumbled upon online?

I did. It was a gut-wrenching tale on BBC news. It was about an American couple, just stepping into their golden years of retirement, embarking on a dreamy round-the-world trip.

Years of grinding, juggling jobs, kids, and all the chaos of life, they’d finally earned their ticket to a carefree adventure. But life, with its cruel sense of humour, had other plans.

On the very first leg of their journey, the husband tragically plunged to his death from a renowned tourist spot.

I found myself gasping, “Why them? Why now?”

They were complete strangers, yet their story hit me hard. It was a stark reminder of life’s unpredictability and the unfairness that comes with it.

The Unpredictability and Unfairness of Life

Think about it.

Millions of us spend our lives working our fingers to the bone, saving every penny, all for a secure future. But along the way, life happens. Illness strikes, bad luck hits, and some of us meet a tragic end, just like that unfortunate couple.

Life’s a wild card. We never know when our time’s up.

Now, I’m not trying to paint a grim picture here or suggest we throw caution to the wind because tomorrow is uncertain. That’s not the point.

The point is, life’s randomness and unfairness can offer us a fresh perspective. And that’s exactly what we need when dealing with debt: a clear head and a new outlook.

Without these, we’re left wrestling with fear, panic, stress, anger, and depression daily. And trust me, that’s a heavy burden to bear.

Debt Management Lessons from the School of Hard Knocks

During the toughest phase of my life, I learned three crucial lessons about managing debt. These lessons shifted my mindset, helping me tackle my debt in a positive way.

Lesson 1: Debt is Just a Chapter in Your Life’s Book

After pulling down the shutters on my online shop, I was left staring at a mountain of debt. It was so overwhelming, it felt like I was paralysed. The effects of debt on mental health started to show.

Panic set in.

How on earth was I going to pay all this off?

The sheer size of the debt was terrifying.

I found myself wishing for some magical portal to swallow me up and make me vanish.

I was stuck in this state for so long that I fell ill and ended up under the surgeon’s knife.

As I came around from the surgery, a thought struck me:

What if I had died?

Just a few days before the surgery, I had read about a patient who had died due to an allergic reaction to anaesthesia.

What if I had a similar reaction and died on the spot?

Then another thought crossed my mind.

What if I knew I was going to die in a few hours? Would I be so worried about my debt?

Probably not.

It would be the last thing on my mind, considering all my debt would die with me.

By obsessing over it, I had let my debt consume my life when, in reality, it was just a part of it.

Lesson 2: Dealing with Debt is a Puzzle Waiting to be Solved

During my university days, I held onto a life motto like a lifeline:

Every problem has a solution.

This became one of my personal finance tips that I leaned on during tough times.

I would repeat this mantra whenever life tossed me into the deep end.

Despite the odds, I managed to navigate through my education.

No matter what life hurled at me, I focused on finding solutions rather than wallowing in the problems.

And sure enough, each time, I found a way out.

But when debt came knocking, I realised I had forgotten my own mantra. My mind was filled with problems, not solutions.

Then, a random comment on an online forum jolted me awake.

It said, “any debt can be solved.”

That’s when I decided to face my debt head-on, just like I had done with other challenges before.

So, I buckled down, drafted my first budget, slashed expenses immediately, and started hunting for ways to boost my income.

Remember, dealing with debt is a puzzle that can be solved.

The moment you shift your focus from the worry, anxiety, and stress of debt to finding solutions, you’ll shed the negative emotions and start spotting opportunities to whittle down your debt.

Lesson 3: Debt Doesn’t Define You

Whether it’s the result of poor decisions or life’s curveballs like medical emergencies, car repairs, divorce, job loss, or business failure, debt doesn’t define us.

But it can lead to debt and depression, a dark place where it’s easy to lose sight of who we are.

Sure, it can knock us flat on our backs. And it hits hard.

But always remember, we are not our debt.

We have the power to figure out what went wrong and how to set things right.

We embark on a new journey in our lives, approaching everything with a mindful attitude and making wise choices.

Along the way, we grow humble, develop empathy for others, change our money mindset, free ourselves from material possessions, build resilience, learn to be fearless, and evolve into better versions of ourselves.

We are a sum of all these experiences, not just our debt.

Final Thoughts on Dealing with Debt

Our time in this life is limited.

We’ve already spent enough of it tangled in emotional turmoil—I know I did.

Take a step back and look at the bigger picture of your life. Realise that debt is just a small part of it. It’s a problem that needs a solution, and it doesn’t define us.

But with the right personal finance tips, we can navigate through this.

Celebrate small victories as you chip away at your debt.

And remember, debt doesn’t have to—and shouldn’t—stop you from living your best life.

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