Thursday, June 26, 2014

Your Problems are not Your Identity!

Maybe it is too soon to write this post. I am in the process of learning what amounts to a new skill. I have been fortunate in that I haven’t had to simultaneously fight money problems deeply entwined with waves of powerful negative emotions since the early years of our marriage. Even then those occasions were rare events. Looking back over those years with the perspective of nearly 40 more years of experience and wisdom, I would be more fearful then than I was at that time. The courageous optimism of a young man still in his early twenties is a wonderful thing.

I have spent the last month in another city dealing with a family emergency involving my elderly parents. Money isn’t the problem. Access to money is the problem. As I worked on the problem, I felt as though I was drowning in my own emotions. From time to time I had to stop, take a deep breath, and realize I am not the same thing as my problems.

Yes, I have problems. They are very real. Pretending they do not exist will not help. Running away will not help. Clarity of vision is the only way to begin the process of healing.

I must accept the facts as they exist. If your credit card balances total $15,432.15, that is the reality of your situation. You can’t change the past.

It is now time to do what will solve the problem or at least improve the situation. That requires understanding. Although I have already been reading up on the subject, in my particular situation I need expert advice from an estate planner, a CPA, and an attorney in another state. I already have a relationship with a CPA and an estate planner. Now that the immediate, acute medical situation is stabilized, I will begin to explore our family’s options with these individuals who have helped me in the past. I also need to investigate a recommended attorney.

When you are in over your head, don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek out knowledgeable professionals. When money is involved, just be careful. As the Great Communicator observed, “Trust, but verify.”

Before you can understand a problem and implement a solution, you must separate your emotions from the problem. Easier said than done. When you need a time out, take a time out. Treat yourself and your emotions kindly. Ask for prayer. Find a friend who is willing to listen to you unload a great heap of negativity. When you have returned to a semblance of sanity you will be better able to fight those battles.

Lao Tzu understood this conundrum, “A skillful solider is not violent, an able fighter does not rage, the greatest conqueror wins without struggle.” When I have successfully separated my problems from my identity I will be better able to help those I love.

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