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Archive for the ‘Finances’ Category

Recovering from Debt Addiction

Monday, December 20th, 2010 by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

(Excerpt from Fall Newsletter 2010)

John has a well-paying job, but carries a debt load equal to half his salary. He spends compulsively, buying things he doesn’t really need. Because he also doesn’t keep track of his finances, he frequently bounces checks. John would like to get control of his spending, but hasn’t been able to rein himself in.

Sarah never spends money unless she has to and neglects self-care such as dental check-ups. She is self-employed but doesn’t make enough to cover her basic expenses and uses credit cards to pay bills when she falls short. Her debt load is a great worry to her, but she feels helpless to change the situation.

John is a compulsive debtor and Sarah an underearner, but their core problem is the same. According to Jerrold Mundis, author of How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously, repeated debt results from dysfunctional or distorted subconscious attitudes and perceptions about money and self.
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Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.

Managing Financial Anxiety Managing Financial Anxiety

Thursday, April 9th, 2009 by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

Sarah is a self-employed hair stylist who’s watched her business decrease by 50 percent. She’s cut expenses, but is stuck in a costly lease she can’t afford. She’s also worried about losing her home, and says her anxiety is “through the roof.”

Frank and Marilyn have well-paid jobs, and she believes that they will weather the economic downturn. However, Frank is so afraid that one of them will lose their job that he has stopped paying anything but basic bills and recently yelled at Marilyn for going to the dentist.

If you have had to tighten your belt, like Sarah, it’s normal to experience anxiety. And when you read every day about failing businesses and people losing their jobs, you can understand that Frank would fear losing theirs. Money is connected with security, a basic need. And when our basic needs are threatened, we feel alarmed.

Although uncomfortable, anxiety isn’t all bad. Mild anxiety can actually motivate us to take positive action.
Indeed, that seems to be its role. We can’t let go of what’s bothering us until we face the situation, and then
we often fi nd that the anxiety has lessened or gone away. But severe anxiety is different. It’s debilitating.
And when anxiety interferes in our lives it can be a disorder.

If you have these symptoms of anxiety disorder, you might want to seek professional help:
• worry, panic or fear that is extreme for the situation
• repeated thoughts or fl ashbacks of traumatic experiences
• nightmares, night terrors and insomnia
• cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
• shortness of breath
• heart palpitations

Use Anxiety Productively to Ease If
If your anxiety is mild or moderate, these strategies can help reduce it by using anxiety as a spur for action.
Face any money issues. Fighting yourself in a down economy adds insult to injury. Seek support and learning in therapy, Debtors Anonymous, and books such as Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously, by Jerrold Mundis and Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.

Acknowledge your role.
If you made a questionable fi nancial choice, blaming others or beating yourself up won’t help. Understand why you made the choice. Do something about it, if you can, and then let it go.

Forgive yourself.
Be proactive. You can’t direct the economy, but you can gain a sense of control and reduce your anxiety
by being more proactive around your finances. Face the reality of your situation and take appropriate
steps, whether that’s negotiating with creditors or leaseholders, reducing expenses or seeking other sources of income.

Don’t cut to the bone.
Eliminating all treats from your budget reintroduces scarcity into the equation, which can breed more anxiety. Learn to live well within your means by seeking pleasures you can afford.

Find the courage to face your anxieties and take the actions that present themselves. Sarah eventually negotiated with her leaseholder and moved to an affordable location he also owned. Frank is now exploring
the root of his money issues, and he and Marilyn have added inexpensive pleasures to their lives. For more on managing financial anxiety, take a look at the Top 10 tips.

Read more in Dr. Tobin’s Quarterly Newsletter

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Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.

Turning Financial Crisis into Opportunity

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008 by Mel Schwartz, LCSW

As a psychotherapist, I have worked with many individuals who are high powered, high income Wall Streeters. Even in the best of times, many of them are beset with emotional and psychological challenges in spite of their enormous wealth. Given the literal free fall of the economy that we’re currently experiencing, many are now facing the hugest hurdle of their lives; and I’m not simply speaking financially.

Those who are so fortunate to earn vast sums of money and accumulate enormous assets tend to place a disproportionate amount of their attention on what should simply be one facet of their lives. As unimaginable as it may be, billionaires may still suffer from self-esteem issues that plague many of us. Those who are driven to succeed in such a way are often compensating for other deficits in their lives. These may include challenges with interpersonal relationships and emotional intimacy. People who tend to be strong type A personalities are so inclined because they are very uncomfortable in the more intimate exchanges of relationships, so they default to the arena in which they feel more comfortable.

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Mel Schwartz is a psychotherapist with offices in Westport Ct and NYC. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory or his website. This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.

A Life of Generosity, Gratitude & Grace

Thursday, October 9th, 2008 by Ruth Gordon, LCSW

Years ago my mother used to say to me, “Gregory Peck can park his shoes under my bed at any time”. I felt the same way about Paul Newman.

Granted, I never met the man, but between his amazing good looks, generosity, talent and personal courage I do believe he was someone quite special. I have never heard or read a negative word about Paul Newman. He appeared to be down to earth, and humble to the point that he attributed his many successes to good luck.

One of the discussions I frequently have with clients is about their feelings of not being good enough. There is always a mention of someone, or several someone’s who “make” them feel inferior. This is what I have to say about that: Anyone who truly feels good about him/herself, who is comfortable in his/her own skin, would NEVER attempt to make another feel “less than”. There’s a adage I learned a long time ago — “under the arrogance lies the shame.”

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Ruth Gordon is licensed clinical social worker in both Massachusetts and Florida. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory. This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.