Broker Check

Forgiveness as a Financial Planning Tool

| August 28, 2017
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Do you remember that song, “That’s Just the Way it Is?” I’m listening to it now as I write this. I was in 6th grade when it came out. It topped the charts and made me wish I never quit piano lessons in 4th grade. Ah the regret that I’d never play like Bruce Hornsby! But that’s just the way it is.

Actually, I could go back and take piano lessons at 43. I’m just saying that’s just the way it is as an excuse. Some people use the phrase as resignation. You know the types: quitters, losers and pessimists. But some people use the phrase in a healthy way. Sometimes it can be said as a sign of peace and acceptance of your new reality. Let me explain.

For example, one thing I’ve noticed with divorcees and widows is a fair amount of frustration and regret. When a marriage dissolves or a spouse passes the introspection can be crushing. I hear women say, “I should have done this or I should have done that.” Worse they blame themselves for too much, “I always make the wrong decisions, what’s wrong with me?” But it can also be directed at your former spouse, alive or otherwise. “Why didn’t he keep his promise. It’s ALL his fault.”

This frustration and regret needs to be addressed as part of your financial plan. Why? Because you have to make decisions and anger at yourself and others perpetuate a cycle of toxic thinking. Words spoken in anger beget anger. Decisions made in anger are not to be trusted.

Anger at yourself hurts your financial plan. So many women tell me that they are financially illiterate. Guess what, they’re not. Instead, they have beaten themselves down to a place where they are paralyzed to move forward. Inward-directed anger creates a spirit of resignation which causes us to disengage. Recognize and deal with your negative self-talk. It’s self-defeating. It’s paralyzing.

Anger at others (friends, family, your spouse) can lead us to cut off our nose to spite our face. You’ve heard the story of the wife selling the soon-to-be ex-husband’s Porsche for pennies on the dollar? Turns out it’s a true story though many internet legends are out there based on the true story. Financially, that makes no sense. I’m not a lawyer, but it doesn’t seem legal, either. Selling the asset was a decision based on toxic thinking.

This emotion is normal but emotions are meant to be dealt with. We need to move on to forgiveness and acceptance. You may not want to hear that right now, but it’ll still be true when you come around. There are several ways you can find forgiveness and acceptance. Your therapist, your pastor, self-help books, conferences and retreats. In fact, you may want to try all of the above. I don’t care what method you use to reach a state of forgiveness and acceptance. The key is that you start the journey toward forgiveness and acceptance. Over time you’ll be able to look back over your life so far with peace and acceptance. You’ll use your life so far as the launching pad to your next, best chapter. You’ll be able to say, with a smile, “That’s just the way it is.”

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