We all face financial situations we don’t know how to deal with at one time or another. The important point is to be able to bounce back. But how? It’s not easy to recover — especially when you’ve fallen from great heights.
John was the “dentist to the stars.” He treated the biggest names in Hollywood. Not only was John a great dentist, he was a guy who was easy to like. Soon the Hollywood big shots started inviting him to their parties. John liked going to those parties. He liked it a little too much.
It didn’t take long for John to get involved with the wrong people and the wrong behaviors. Eventually, he lost everything. Now John waits tables on Sunset Strip. He still sees his former big shot patients, of course. But it’s usually while he’s serving them a foo foo salad or corking an expensive bottle of wine for them at the restaurant. He feels humiliated.He’s angry at the world and he’s angry at himself for messing up his life. He can’t let go and he can’t move on.
Even if you’ve never faced a problem like this, it’s very important to learn from John’s experience. I’m no therapist, of course, but I’ve seen lots of people deal with tragedy – financial and otherwise. In those who have succeeded to go on and (in my opinion) lead happy lives, here’s what I’ve seen works best:
Does John have anything to be grateful for? Not if you ask him. But if you ask me, the answer is yes. First, he’s not dead. The way he was carrying on, death certainly could have been one outcome. Next, he’s got a job. Third, he’s not sick. Fourth, he worked out a fair plan to pay off his creditors. The list goes on and on.
I know this is easy for me to say because I’m not in John’s shoes. But when people are able to overcome financial devastation, gratitude is a key ingredient. And when they stay stuck, the lack of gratitude is also prevalent. John needs to consciously make a daily list of what he’s grateful for – even though he doesn’t feel like doing it.
People who bounce back rather than focus on their own little world are helpful to others. By getting involved with others and trying to make their lives better, John would gain a lot. First, it would help him find gratitude easier – especially if he was helping people who were really in trouble.
Next, when you help other people, you just can’t help but feel good about yourself. That’s going to help boost John’s self-esteem and confidence. And having more self-esteem and confidence is going to help propel John in his career. If he’s interested in becoming a dentist again, there is nothing more important than this step, if you ask me.
3. Accept the Worst
My all-time favorite book is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carneige. In this book, he gives practical advice on how to stop worrying. One of the most powerful techniques he suggests is to accept the very worst and try to improve upon it.
So what if John is a waiter now? Who cares? Is that really so bad? He’s got a roof over his head and food on the table. The only person who thinks this is a tragedy is John. And John can decide that it’s not a tragedy.
If you lost your job and had to work at Flippy Burger to support your family, could you do it with a positive attitude? If so, you have the key to a worry-free life. If you can accept and love yourself for doing the best you can and not worry about the result, you have a great deal of freedom.
Financial resilience after failure doesn’t come from money — that’s why I’m writing about it. Money is never a cure if the problem is self-esteem. In order to repair your self-esteem, you have to do estimable acts. Only after you repair your self-image can you start the climb back up the financial ladder.
But until you do, all the money in the world won’t fix what ails you. Have you overcome financial failure? How? What were the most difficult steps you took?
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